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Cussler in 2011
|Born||Clive Eric Cussler|
July 15, 1931
Aurora, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||February 24, 2020 (aged 88)|
Scottsdale, Arizona, U.S.
|Notable works||Dirk Pitt series|
Clive Eric Cussler (July 15, 1931 – February 24, 2020) was an American adventure novelist and underwater explorer. His thriller novels, many featuring the character Dirk Pitt, have reached The New York Times fiction best-seller list more than 20 times. Cussler was the founder and chairman of the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), which has discovered more than 60 shipwreck sites and numerous other notable underwater wrecks. He was the sole author or lead author of more than 80 books.
His novels have inspired various other works of fiction in the form of films, TV, other novels and even video games.
Clive Cussler was born in Aurora, Illinois, the son of Amy Adeline (Hunnewell) and Eric Edward Cussler, and grew up in Alhambra, California. His mother's ancestors were from England and his father was from Germany. He was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout when he was 14. He attended Pasadena City College for two years and then enlisted in the United States Air Force during the Korean War. During his service in the Air Force, he was promoted to sergeant and worked as an aircraft mechanic and flight engineer for the Military Air Transport Service (MATS).
After his discharge from the military, Cussler went to work in the advertising industry, first as a copywriter and later as a creative director for two of the nation's most successful advertising agencies. As part of his duties, Cussler produced radio and television commercials, many of which won international awards including an award at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.
Following the publication in 1996 of Cussler's first nonfiction work, The Sea Hunters, he was awarded a Doctor of Letters degree in 1997 by the Board of Governors of the State University of New York Maritime College who accepted the work in lieu of a Ph.D. thesis. This was the first time in the college's 123-year history that such a degree had been awarded.
In 2002 Cussler was awarded the Naval Heritage Award from the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation for his efforts in the area of marine exploration.
Clive Cussler began writing in 1965 when his wife took a job working nights for the local police department where they lived in California. After making dinner for the children and putting them to bed, he had no one to talk to and nothing to do, so he decided to start writing. His most famous creation is marine engineer, government agent and adventurer Dirk Pitt. The Dirk Pitt novels frequently take on an alternative history perspective, such as "what if Atlantis were real?" or "what if Abraham Lincoln wasn't assassinated, but was kidnapped?"
The first two Pitt novels, The Mediterranean Caper and Iceberg, were relatively conventional maritime thrillers. The third, Raise the Titanic!, made Cussler's reputation and established the pattern that subsequent Pitt novels would follow: a blend of high adventure and high technology, generally involving megalomaniacal villains, lost ships, beautiful women, and sunken treasure.
Cussler's novels almost always begin with a chapter taking place in the past. These contain none of the novel's main characters and often seem disconnected from the plot until the main characters discover a mystery or secret connecting the events in the first chapter to the rest of the story. This almost always comes in the form of a long-lost artifact which holds the key to the villain's or hero's objectives. Often in the first chapter, a ship or plane carrying a top-secret, important, or dangerous cargo is lost and never found, until it is recovered by a modern character later in the book.
Cussler's novels, like those of Michael Crichton, are examples of techno-thrillers that do not use military plots and settings. Where Crichton strove for scrupulous realism, however, Cussler prefers fantastic spectacles and outlandish plot devices. The Pitt novels, in particular, have the anything-goes quality of the James Bond or Indiana Jones movies, while also sometimes borrowing from Alistair MacLean's novels. Pitt himself is a larger-than-life hero reminiscent of Doc Savage and other characters from pulp magazines.
As an underwater explorer, Cussler discovered more than 60 shipwreck sites and wrote non-fiction books about his findings. He was also the founder of the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), a non-profit organization with the same name as the fictional government agency that employs Dirk Pitt.
Important finds by NUMA include:
A visual and interactive depiction of Cussler's NUMA Foundation Expeditions has been made available as an extension of NUMA's original website.
Finds formerly believed to be important include:
In what started as a joke in the novel Dragon that Cussler expected his editor to remove, he would often write himself into his books. At first he wrote himself simple cameos, but later as something of a deus ex machina, providing the novel's protagonists with an essential bit of assistance or information. Often, the character is given an alias and not revealed as Cussler until his exit with the characters remarking on his odd name. The cameos include the Dirk Pitt Adventures, as well as the Fargo Adventures books Lost Empire, Spartan Gold, Kingdom, and The Tombs. The Tombs also includes his wife, Barbara.
There are at least two other types of recurring in-jokes that are less obvious to a casual reader. One is the frequent reuse of the name Leigh Hunt for different characters in different novels. Seventeen books have had a character with this name, frequently in the opening prologues, frequently a sailor, usually dying; a notable exception is the first (in chronological order) Dirk Pitt adventure, Pacific Vortex!, in which Admiral Leigh Hunter is a major character, commander of the 101st Recovery Fleet in Hawaii. In the introduction to Arctic Drift, Cussler says there was a real Leigh Hunt who died in 2007 and the novel is dedicated to him. Another is that significant events in several novels occur on July 15 (Cussler's birthday). He also used the name "Periwinkle" in his works. In The Adventures of Vin Fiz (and in other works as well) there appears a donkey named Periwinkle. In Valhalla Rising, the Periwinkle is the name of a catamaran in which Pitt, Giordino, and Misty Graham are rescued by none other than Cussler himself. Cussler's friend Craig Dirgo is mentioned in several books.
Clive Cussler married Barbara Knight in 1955, and they remained married for nearly 50 years until her death in 2003. Together they had three children — Teri, Dirk, and Dayna — who have given him four grandchildren. Cussler's daughter Teri is the creator and manager of the Cussler Museum in Arvada, Colorado, where Cussler's collection of classic automobiles is on display. Cussler married Janet Horvath, who survived him. Clive Cussler was a part-time resident of both Arizona and Colorado.
Cussler died at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona, on February 24, 2020, at age 88.
|2||The Mediterranean Caper2||1973|
|4||Raise the Titanic!||1976|
|18||Black Wind3, 4||2004|
|19||Treasure of Khan3, 4||2006|
|20||Arctic Drift3, 4||2008|
|21||Crescent Dawn3, 4||2010|
|22||Poseidon's Arrow3, 4||2012|
|23||Havana Storm3, 4||2014|
|24||Odessa Sea3, 4||2016|
|25||Celtic Empire3, 4||2019|
1) Although published in 1983, Pacific Vortex! was written and takes place before The Mediterranean Caper.
2) Also published as Mayday!
3) Novels featuring Dirk Pitt and his children Dirk Pitt, Jr. and Summer Pitt.
4) Novels co-authored with Clive Cussler's son, Dirk.
This series of books focuses on Kurt Austin, Team Leader of NUMA's Special Assignments division and his adventures. Some characters from the Pitt novels appear such as Sandecker, Al Giordino, Rudi Gunn, Hiram Yaeger and St. Julien Perlmutter. Pitt makes brief appearances in the books Serpent, White Death, Polar Shift, Devil's Gate, The Storm, Zero Hour, and Ghost Ship and is mentioned in Lost City. Juan Cabrillo, the captain of the ship Oregon, also made a brief appearance in The Pharaoh's Secret.
|1||Serpent *||1999, Jun. 01|
|2||Blue Gold *||2000, Aug. 01|
|3||Fire Ice *||2002, Jun. 03|
|4||White Death *||2003, Jun. 23|
|5||Lost City *||2004, Jul. 22|
|6||Polar Shift *||2005, Aug. 30|
|7||The Navigator *||2007, Jun. 05|
|8||Medusa *||2009, Jul. 02|
|9||Devil's Gate †||2011, Nov. 14|
|10||The Storm †||2012, May. 29|
|11||Zero Hour †||2013, May. 28|
|12||Ghost Ship †||2014, May. 27|
|13||The Pharaoh's Secret †||2015, Nov. 17|
|14||Nighthawk †||2017, Jun. 19|
|15||The Rising Sea †||2018, Mar. 13|
|16||Sea of Greed †||2018, Nov. 06|
|17||Journey of the Pharaohs †||2020, Mar. 10|
This series of books features a ship named the Oregon, which Cussler introduced in the Dirk Pitt Adventures novel Flood Tide (1997). While appearing to be a decrepit freighter, it is actually a high-tech advanced ship used by an unnamed and mysterious "Corporation" under the leadership of Juan Cabrillo. The ship is run like a business, with its crew being shareholders, taking jobs for the CIA and other agencies to help stop crime and terrorism. The crew is adept at disguises, combat, computer hacking and more to aid them in their missions. Kurt Austin, Joe Zavala, and Dirk Pitt all make cameo appearances in the fourth volume, Skeleton Coast (Cabrillo speaks to Pitt on the telephone; and Austin and Zavala appear at the end).
|1||Golden Buddha ‡||2003|
|2||Sacred Stone ‡||2004|
|3||Dark Watch §||2005|
|4||Skeleton Coast §||2006|
|5||Plague Ship §||2008|
|7||The Silent Sea §||2010|
|8||The Jungle §||2011|
|11||The Emperor's Revenge ≠||2016|
|12||Typhoon Fury ≠||2017|
|13||Shadow Tyrants ≠||2018|
|14||Final Option ≠||2019|
These books are set mostly in the U.S. in the early part of the 20th century. They center around Isaac Bell, a brilliant investigator for the Van Dorn Detective Agency, which appears to be modeled after the real-life Pinkerton Agency. Like Pitt, Bell has an affinity for automobiles and is a crack shot. The first book reveals that Bell survives into 1950 with a wife and grown children. Though the setting is a century ago, the books still qualify as techno-thrillers, since they feature the advanced technology of that time such as private express trains, telegraphs, telephones, dreadnought battleships and early airplanes. Isaac Bell also is a principal character of the background story in the Fargo Adventures novel The Gray Ghost.
|2||The Wrecker ‖||2009|
|3||The Spy ‖||2010|
|4||The Race ‖||2011|
|5||The Thief ‖||2012|
|6||The Striker ‖||2013|
|7||The Bootlegger ‖||2014|
|8||The Assassin ‖||2015|
|9||The Gangster ‖||2016|
|10||The Cutthroat ‖||2017|
|11||The Titanic Secret §||2019|
The series focuses on Sam and Remi Fargo, a married couple who are professional treasure hunters.
|1||Spartan Gold ^||2009|
|2||Lost Empire ^||2010|
|3||The Kingdom ^||2011|
|4||The Tombs +||2012|
|5||The Mayan Secrets +||2013|
|6||The Eye of Heaven ×||2014|
|7||The Solomon Curse ×||2015|
|9||The Romanov Ransom **||2017|
|10||The Gray Ghost **||2018|
|11||The Oracle **||2019|
|12||Wrath of Poseidon **||2020|
|The Sea Hunters: True Adventures With Famous Shipwrecks ‡||1996|
|Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt Revealed ‡||1998|
|The Sea Hunters II: Diving the World's Seas for Famous Shipwrecks ‡||2002|
|Built for Adventure: The Classic Automobiles of Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt||2011|
|Built to Thrill: More Classic Automobiles from Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt||2016|
|The Adventures of Vin Fiz||2006|
|The Adventures of Hotsy Totsy||2010|
(*) indicates books co-authored with Paul Kemprecos.
(†) indicates books co-authored with Graham Brown.
(‡) indicates books co-authored with Craig Dirgo.
(§) indicates books co-authored with Jack Du Brul.
(‖) indicates books co-authored with Justin Scott.
(^) indicates books co-authored with Grant Blackwood.
(+) indicates books co-authored with Thomas Perry.
(×) indicates books co-authored with Russell Blake.
(≠) indicates books co-authored with Boyd Morrison.
(**) indicates books co-authored with Robin Burcell.
|Dirk Pitt||Main character of the Dirk Pitt Adventures series, head of NUMA and previously Special Projects Director of NUMA|
|Al Giordino||Dirk Pitt's sidekick|
|Admiral James Sandecker||Retired Admiral, original director of NUMA, now the Vice President of the United States|
|Rudi Gunn||Second in command of NUMA|
|Dirk Pitt, Jr.||Son of Dirk Pitt|
|Summer Pitt||Daughter of Dirk Pitt|
|Jack Dahlgren||Dirk Pitt, Jr.'s sidekick|
|Kurt Austin||Main character of the NUMA Files series and Special Assignments Team leader|
|Joe Zavala||Kurt Austin's sidekick and member of the Special Assignments Team|
|Paul Trout||Member of the Special Assignments Team; husband of Gamay Trout|
|Gamay Trout||Member of the Special Assignments Team; wife of Paul Trout|
|Sam Fargo||Main character of the Fargo Adventures series|
|Remi Fargo||Main character of the Fargo Adventures series|
|Selma Wondrash||The Fargos' chief researcher|
|Wendy Corden||Assistant researcher under Selma|
|Pete Jeffcoat||Assistant researcher under Selma|
|Rube Hayward||The Fargos' CIA contact|
|Juan Cabrillo||Chairman of the Corporation|
|Max Hanley||President of the Corporation|
|Richard Truitt||Vice President of Operations for the Corporation|
|George Adams||Helicopter Pilot / Operative|
|Rick Barrett||Assistant Chef / Operative|
|Monica Crabtree||Supply and Logistics Coordinator / Operative|
|Carl Gannon||General Operations / Operative|
|Chuck "Tiny" Gunderson||Chief Pilot / Operative|
|Michael Halpert||Finance and Accounting / Operative|
|Cliff Hornsby||General Operations / Operative|
|Julia Huxley||Medical Officer / Operative|
|Pete Jones||General Operations / Operative|
|Hali Kasim||Communications Expert / Operatives|
|Larry King||Sniper / Operative|
|Marion "MacD" MacDougall Lawless III||General Operations / Operative|
|Franklin Lincoln||General Operations / Operative|
|Bob Meadows||General Operations / Operative|
|Mark Murphy||Weapons Specialist / Operative|
|Kevin Nixon||Magic Shop Specialist / Operative|
|Langston Overholt IV||The Corporation's CIA contact|
|Sam Pryor||Propulsion Engineer / Operative|
|Gunther Reinholt||Propulsion Engineer / Operative|
|Tom Reyes||General Operations / Operative|
|Linda Ross||Security and Surveillance / Operative|
|Eddie Seng||Director of Shore Operations / Operative|
|Eric Stone||Control Room Operations / Operative|
|Mike Trono||General Operations / Operative|
|Isaac Bell||Main character of the Isaac Bell Adventures series and Chief Investigator of the Van Dorn Detective Agency|
|Marion Morgan||Isaac Bell's fiancée, and later, wife|
|Joseph Van Dorn||Owner of the Van Dorn Detective Agency|
|Archie Abbott||(actual name, Archibald Angel Abbott) College friend and fellow detective to Isaac Bell at the Van Dorn Detective Agency|
|Judge James Comden||Powerful and corrupt political antagonist, contemporary to Isaac Bell|
|Aloysius "Wish" Clarke||Detective of the Van Dorn Detective Agency, senior to and casual mentor to a younger Isaac Bell, besot by alcoholism|
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