The Making of Tom Clancy

By: Leslie Milk

Nancy Reynolds, the former Reagan insider and lobbyist, featured in the June issue of Washingtonian, can also take credit for discovering thriller writer Tom Clancy.

Clancy was selling life insurance when he wrote a book called The Hunt for Red October. US Naval Press printed a small quantity of the book and it became a cult favorite at the CIA. Then Reynolds got a copy, according to Bob Shule, a former Reynolds lobbying partner.

“She loved it,” Shule says. “She called the Naval Press and asked for more copies. She sent them to President Reagan, the vice president, the secretary of defense.”

Reagan loved the book and told Reynolds he wanted to meet Clancy. She took him to the White House and then called a few publishers to tell them they were “missing the boat,” according to Shule. The little book from the Naval Press sailed on to success as a best-seller and made the insurance salesman a multi-millionaire.

Clancy recently celebrated his sixtieth birthday. Of course, Nancy Reynolds was invited to the party.

 For more on Nancy Reynolds, see page 131 of the June 2007 "Cheap Eats" issue, on newsstands now.