Clive Cussler

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Clive Cussler
Born(1931-07-15) July 15, 1931 (age 83)
Aurora, Illinois,[1]
United States
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Clive Cussler
Born(1931-07-15) July 15, 1931 (age 83)
Aurora, Illinois,[1]
United States

Clive Eric Cussler (born July 15, 1931) is an American adventure novelist and marine archaeologist. His thriller novels, many featuring the character Dirk Pitt, have reached The New York Times fiction best-seller list more than 20 times. Cussler is the founder and chairman[2] of the real-life National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), which has discovered more than sixty shipwreck sites and numerous other notable sunken underwater wreckages. He is the sole author or lead author of more than 50 books.


Clive Cussler was born in Aurora, Illinois, and grew up in Alhambra, California. He was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout when he was 14.[3] He attended Pasadena City College[2] 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).

Clive Cussler married Barbara Knight in 1955, and they remained married for nearly fifty years until her death in 2003.[4] Together they had three children — Teri, Dirk, and Dayna — who have given him four grandchildren.

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.[2] 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.[2] This was the first time in the college's 123-year history that such a degree had been awarded.[2]

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.

Cussler is a fellow of the Explorers Club of New York, the Royal Geographic Society in London, and the American Society of Oceanographers.[5]

Literary career[edit]

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 kids and putting them to bed he had no one to talk to and nothing to do so he decided to start writing.[6] 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, 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.

Clive Cussler has had more than seventeen consecutive titles reach The New York Times fiction best-seller list.

Art imitating life[edit]


As an underwater explorer, Cussler has discovered more than sixty shipwreck sites[7] and has written non-fiction books about his findings. He is 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. Cussler owns a large collection of classic cars,[7] several of which (driven by Pitt) appear in his novels.

Important finds by Cussler's N.U.M.A. include

A visual & interactive depiction of Dr. Cussler's NUMA Foundation Expeditions has been made available as an extension of NUMA's original website. It is an informative and educational overview from a global perspective of Dr. Cussler's expeditions and discoveries.

Appearances as characters[edit]

In what started as a joke in the novel Dragon that Cussler expected his editor to remove, he now often writes himself into his books; at first as 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 how odd the name is. The cameos are usually restricted to the Pitt adventures, although the Fargo Files books Lost Empire, Spartan Gold, Kingdom, and The Tombs had Cussler making an appearance. The Tombs also includes his wife, Janet.

A regular name in Cussler novels was Leigh Hunt. Seventeen books have had a character named Hunt appear in the opening prologues, usually dying; notable exception is the first (in chronological order) Dirk Pitt's adventure, Pacific Vortex, in which Admiral Leigh Hunt 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 surreptitious in-joke is that significant events in several novels occur on July 15 (Cussler's birthday).



Upcoming books[edit]

TitleSeries#Release Date
Havana StormDirk Pitt Adventure Series23October 28, 2014[11][12]
The AssassinIsaac Bell Adventure Series8March 3, 2015[13]

Dirk Pitt Adventures[edit]

 # TitlePublication Date
1Pacific Vortex!11983
2The Mediterranean Caper21973
4Raise the Titanic!1976
5Vixen 031978
6Night Probe!1981
7Deep Six1984
12Inca Gold1994
13Shock Wave1996
14Flood Tide1997
15Atlantis Found1999
16Valhalla Rising32001
17Trojan Odyssey32003
18Black Wind3, 42004
19Treasure of Khan3, 42006
20Arctic Drift3, 42008
21Crescent Dawn3, 42010
22Poseidon's Arrow3, 42012
23Havana Storm3, 42014

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.

The NUMA Files[edit]

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, 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", and "Zero Hour."

 # TitlePublication Date
1Serpent *1999
2Blue Gold *2000
3Fire Ice *2002
4White Death *2003
5Lost City *2004
6Polar Shift *2005
7The Navigator *  2007
8Medusa *2009
9Devil's Gate 2011
10The Storm 2012
11Zero Hour 2013
12Ghost Ship 2014

The Oregon Files[edit]

The Oregon Files features a ship named the Oregon which Cussler introduced in the Dirk Pitt Adventure Flood Tide (1997). While appearing to be a decrepit freighter, it's 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 their missions. Kurt Austin, Joe Zavala, and Dirk Pitt all make cameo appearances in the fourth volume, Skeleton Coast (Juan speaks to Pitt on the telephone; and Austin and Zavala appear at the end).

 # TitlePublication Date
1Golden Buddha 2003
2Sacred Stone 2004
3Dark Watch §2005
4Skeleton Coast §  2006
5Plague Ship §2008
6Corsair §2009
7The Silent Sea §2010
8The Jungle §2011
9Mirage §2013

Isaac Bell Adventures[edit]

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.

 # TitlePublication Date
1The Chase2007
2The Wrecker 2009
3The Spy 2010
4The Race 2011
5The Thief 2012
6The Striker 2013
7The Bootlegger 2014
8The Assassin 2015[13]

Fargo Adventures[edit]

The series focuses on Sam and Remi Fargo, a couple who are professional treasure hunters.

 # TitlePublication Date
1Spartan Gold ^  2009
2Lost Empire ^2010
3The Kingdom ^2011
4The Tombs 2012
5The Mayan Secrets 2013
6The Eye of Heaven ×2014


TitlePublication Date
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 Pitt2011

Children's Books[edit]

TitlePublication Date
The Adventures of Vin Fiz2006
The Adventures of Hotsy Totsy2010

(*) 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 DuBrul.
(‖) 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.

Recurring characters[edit]


Dirk PittMain character of the Dirk Pitt Adventure Series, and Special Projects Director of NUMA
Al GiordinoDirk Pitt's Sidekick
Admiral James SandeckerRetired Admiral, Original Director of NUMA, now the Vice President
Rudi Gunn2nd in command NUMA
Dirk Pitt, Jr.Son of Dirk Pitt
Summer PittDaughter of Dirk Pitt
Kurt AustinMain Character of The NUMA Series, and Special Assignments Team Leader
Joe ZavalaKurt Austin's Sidekick, and Member of the Special Assignments Team
Paul TroutMember of the Special Assignments Team
Gamay TroutMember of the Special Assignments Team

Friends, etc.[edit]

Loren SmithCongress Woman, and wife of Dirk Pitt
St. Julien PerlmutterNautical Historian
Hala KamilSecretary General of the U.N.
Clive CusslerOld Guy who always shows up to save the day

The Corporation[edit]

NameJob TitleInformation
Juan CabrilloChairmanMain Character of The Oregon Files
Max HanleyPresident
Linda RossVice President after truitt retires
Eddie SengDirector of Ground Affairs
Richard "Dick" TruittVice president until book 3
Hali KasimCommunications Specialist
Bob Meadowsgun dog
Carl Gannonprocurement specialist
Mark MurphyWeapons Specialist/IT
Eric StoneHelmsman/IT
Chuck "Tiny" GundersonPilot
George "Gomez" AdamsChopper Pilot
Julia HuxleyDoctor
Franklin LincolnLead Gundog
Mike TronoGundog
Jerry PulaskiKilled on mission in Argentina/ gun dog
Larry KingSniper
Kevin NixonManages "The Magic Shop" (Wardrobe & Disguise)

Van Dorn Detective Agency[edit]



Cussler has co-authored books with other writers, such as Russell Blake.[14]


  1. ^ "Clive Cussler". Retrieved 2007-02-16. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "NUMA.Net Clive Cussler Biography" (Web Article). Retrieved 2007-10-06. 
  3. ^ Cussler, Clive; Dirgo, Craig. Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt Revealed. New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 0-671-02622-4. 
  4. ^ "TV.Com Clive Cussler Biography" (Web Article). Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  5. ^ "Simon Clive Cussler Biography" (Web Article). Archived from the original on June 29, 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  6. ^ " Clive Cussler Biography" (Web Article). Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  7. ^ a b Cussler, Clive (2004-10-26). Valhalla Rising. Berkley Trade. Inside dust jacket flap. ISBN 978-0-425-20404-7. 039914787X. 
  8. ^ Jonathan Thompson (2005-01-23). "Dating of wreck's timbers puts wind in sails of the 'Mary Celeste' mystery". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-07-22. 
  9. ^ "Raise the Titanic". Retrieved 2008-06-14. 
  10. ^ Glenn F. Bunting, $78 million of red ink?, Los Angeles Times, April 15, 2007.
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ Rivera, Jeff (January 18, 2014). "Indie Author Russell Blake on Working with the Great Clive Cussler". Huffington Post The Blog. 

External links[edit]