Rainbow Six (novel)

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Rainbow Six
TomClancy RainbowSix.jpg
First edition cover
AuthorTom Clancy
CountryUnited States
SeriesJohn Clark
Set inRyanverse
PublisherG.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date
August 3, 1998
Media typePrint (Hardcover, Paperback)
Preceded byExecutive Orders 
Followed byThe Bear and the Dragon 

Rainbow Six is a techno-thriller novel, written by Tom Clancy and released on August 3, 1998. It is the second book to primarily focus on John Clark, one of the recurring characters in the Ryanverse, after Without Remorse (1993); it also features his son-in-law Domingo "Ding" Chavez. Rainbow Six follows Rainbow, a secret international counterterrorist organization headed by Clark (whose codename is "Rainbow Six"), and the complex apocalyptic conspiracy they unravel after handling multiple seemingly random terrorist attacks. The book debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list,[1] and has since been adapted into a series of video games.


CIA operative John Clark forms a secret multi-national counterterrorist unit known as Rainbow. Based in Hereford, England, the unit consists of two operational teams composed of elite soldiers from NATO countries, and is supplemented by intelligence and technological experts from MI6, Mossad, and FBI. Clark serves as the commanding officer, his son-in-law Domingo Chavez leads one of the two teams, and their second in command is Special Air Service (SAS) officer Alistair Stanley.

For their first deployment, Chavez's team rescues hostages during a bank robbery in Bern, Switzerland. Several weeks later, they are deployed to Austria, where a group of left-wing German terrorists have taken over the schloss of a wealthy Austrian businessman to obtain (nonexistent) "special access codes" to the international trading markets. They are then deployed to the Worldpark amusement park in Spain, where a group of Basque revolutionaries have taken a group of children hostage and demand that various prisoners, including Carlos the Jackal, be released.

Clark and his colleagues become suspicious about the sudden rise in terrorist attacks. Unbeknownst to them, the first two attacks are part of an intricate plan to wipe out nearly all of humanity, codenamed "the Project". Dr. John Brightling, a staunch radical environmentalist who heads a biotechnology firm called the Horizon Corporation, ordered the attacks through ex-KGB officer Dmitriy Popov to raise global concern over terrorism, which would then allow co-conspirator Bill Henriksen's security firm Global Security to land a key contract for the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Henriksen plans to release "Shiva", a deadly strain of the Ebola virus developed by Horizon and tested on kidnapped human test subjects, through the fog-cooling system of Stadium Australia, infecting everyone present. Since the Olympics attracts people from virtually every country in the world, infecting them would ensure the swift worldwide spread of Shiva. The resulting epidemic would kill millions, and Horizon would distribute a "vaccine" (actually a slow-acting version of the virus itself) which would then kill the rest of the world's population. The "chosen few", having been provided with the real vaccine, would then inherit the emptied world, justifying their genocidal actions as "saving the world" from the environmentally-destructive nature of humanity.

Popov, unaware of the Project, discovers the existence of Rainbow as he reviews the "police tactical teams" (actually Rainbow in disguise) that responded to his attacks, and brings it to Brightling's attention. Brightling and Henriksen task Popov with orchestrating an attack on Rainbow to prevent them from being deployed to the Sydney Olympics. He persuades breakaway members of the Provisional Irish Republican Army to attack a hospital near Rainbow's base and take Clark and Chavez's wives (who work there as a nurse and a doctor, respectively) hostage. When Rainbow arrives, a team of IRA militants ambush them, killing two Rainbow troopers and injuring several others, including Stanley. Despite this, the two Rainbow teams manage to repel the ambush, retake the hospital without civilian casualties, and capture some of the terrorists. Interrogation of their leader, Sean Grady, reveals Popov's involvement, and Brightling evacuates him to Horizon's secret OLYMPUS base in Kansas.

However, this action turns out to have been a fatal miscalculation by the conspirators; Popov was unaware of the genocidal plans of his employers, but the people at OLYMPUS talk openly about them. Upon learning about the Project, Popov, appalled by what he has assisted, escapes and reveals his knowledge to Clark and the FBI, who have been investigating the kidnappings of the Shiva test subjects. Popov's warning comes just in time for Chavez and his team, who were deployed to the Olympics to oversee venue security, to thwart Shiva's release at the last minute.

Their plans in shambles, Brightling and key co-conspirators escape to another, smaller Horizon base in the Amazon rainforest near Manaus, Brazil. Clark personally leads a team there, and they dispatch the guards and destroy the facility. Knowing that there is not enough evidence to convict them, Clark instead has the survivors stripped naked and left to fend for themselves in the jungle, taunting them to "reconnect with nature". As time pass but no survivors emerge, Clark quips that while humanity seems to have an instinct to act in accordance with nature, nature seems unwilling to respond in kind.


Team Rainbow[edit]

Executive and support branches[edit]

  • John Clark: Commander of Rainbow (codename Rainbow Six)
  • Alistair Stanley: Deputy commander (codename Rainbow Five)
  • Bill Tawney: Head of the intelligence section, former MI6 intelligence analyst
  • Dr. Paul Bellow: Resident psychologist specializing in criminal psychology, from the FBI
  • Tim Noonan: Resident tactical electronics and surveillance specialist, FBI special agent
  • David Beled: Technical Staff lead, from Mossad
  • Sam Bennett: Communications officer, U.S. Air Force major
  • Daniel "Bear" Malloy: Lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Marines, pilot of Rainbow's MH-60K Night Hawk helicopter
  • Dave Woods: British Colour Sergeant, firing range instructor
  • Alice Foorgate and Helen Montgomery: Executive secretaries
  • Katherine Moony: Secretary


  • Major Peter Covington: Team-1 commander, SAS member
  • Miguel "Mike" Chin: Former U.S. Navy SEAL, Master Chief Machinist's Mate
  • Mortimer "Sam" Houston: Sniper-observer
  • Fred 'Freddy' Franklin: Rifle 1-2, former U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit instructor at Fort Benning
  • Geoff Bates: Former British SAS member


  • Domingo "Ding" Chavez: Team-2 commander, former CIA Special Activities Division member, Clark's son-in-law
  • Julio "Oso" Vega: Machine gunner, former Delta Force member
  • Eddie Price: Senior member, former SAS sergeant major
  • Louis Loiselle: Former DGSE member
  • Dieter Weber: Rifle 2-2, former GSG 9 Feldwebel
  • Homer Johnston: Sniper, former Delta Force member
  • George Tomlinson: Former Delta Force member
  • Mike Pierce: Former 82nd Airborne Division member
  • Steve Lincoln: Former Delta Force member

Horizon Corporation and affiliates[edit]

  • John Brightling: Billionaire, chairman of Horizon Corporation, mastermind of the Project
  • Bill Henriksen: Security consultant, head of Global Security, former FBI agent and Hostage Rescue Team member
  • Carol Brightling: Science Advisor to the President, former wife of John Brightling; their divorce is a ruse used to safeguard her position, which enables her to pass secrets to Horizon
  • John Killgore: Senior research scientist involved in testing the Shiva virus
  • Barbara Archer: Researcher involved in testing the Shiva virus
  • Kirk Maclean: Researcher tasked with kidnapping homeless men and single women in New York City to be used as Shiva test subjects
  • Mark Waterhouse: Recruiter for Brightling's "chosen few" (radical environmentalists who share the Project's ideals)
  • Foster Hunnicutt: Survivalist, member of Brightling's "chosen few"
  • Wilson Gearing: Ex-lieutenant colonel with the U.S. Army Chemical Corps, tasked with releasing Shiva at the Olympics

Other characters[edit]

  • Dmitriy Arkadyevich Popov (aka Iosef Serov aka Joseph Andrews): Former KGB operations officer working for Brightling
  • Sandra "Sandy" Clark: John Clark's wife, nurse
  • Patricia "Patsy" Clark-Chavez: John Clark's daughter and Domingo Chavez's wife, MD
  • Ernst Model: Sociopathic former Red Army Faction member who leads the botched bank robbery in Bern
  • Hans Fürchtner: Left-wing terrorist, recruited by Popov to take over the schloss of a wealthy Austrian businessman
  • Petra Dortmund: Left-wing terrorist, Fürchtner's longtime partner
  • Erwin Ostermann: Austrian financier taken hostage by Fürchtner and Dortmund in his home
  • Andre Herr: Former Action Directe member in charge of the hostage situation at Worldpark
  • Sean Grady: Provisional Irish Republican Army cell commander who leads the attack on the Hereford hospital
  • Tom Sullivan: FBI agent based in New York investigating Bannister's disappearance
  • Frank Chatham: FBI agent and Sullivan's partner
  • Ed Foley: Director of Central Intelligence
  • Mary Bannister: Shiva test subject who manages to message her father, alerting the FBI


Rainbow Six explores the issue of radical environmentalism. According to Marc Cerasini's essay on the novel, the philosophy of the antagonists are considered as an extreme form of naturalism, based on Jean-Jacques Rousseau's view that society's functions corrupt mankind and that "a natural or primitive state is actually morally superior to civilization". The novel shares elements found in James Bond movies: a biological weapon being used to end or rather cull the human race, mad scientists plotting world domination, and high-tech secret bases hidden from civilization. Clancy makes the plot relevant and morally ambiguous by incorporating motivations similar to those of real-life radical ecocentric environmentalists and deep ecologists, such as Pentti Linkola and Paul R. Ehrlich,[2][3] rather than blanket hunger for power and brash misanthropic resentment.[4][5] In several regards, critics have noted similarities in the population control regard to the later-released Kingsman: The Secret Service and Dan Brown's Inferno, as well as those of Thanos in Marvel's Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.[6][7][8]


The concept of Rainbow Six was conceived from a discussion between Clancy and Doug Littlejohns, a former Royal Navy submarine commander and CEO of Red Storm Entertainment, a video game developer co-founded by Clancy in 1996. Their discussion occurred during a Red Storm company outing in Colonial Williamsburg, when Littlejohns suggested a strategy shooter game based on the FBI Hostage Rescue Team. When Clancy mentioned that he was writing a novel about a hostage rescue team, their conversation led to Littlejohns noting the protracted diplomatic delays in authorizing a foreign counterterrorist unit's deployment overseas, and he suggested the concept of a permanent counterterrorist unit that already had authorization to deploy internationally.[9] The name "Rainbow" came from the term "Rainbow nation", a term coined by Desmond Tutu to describe post-apartheid South Africa under Nelson Mandela's presidency. "Six" came from the American rank code for captain (O-6); though Clark would more accurately be described as a major general (O-8) in the novel, "Rainbow Six" read better than "Rainbow Eight".[9] The strategy shooter game Littlejohns suggested was eventually developed into Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six.[9]


The book received mixed reviews. Entertainment Weekly praised the novel's "sprawling, Bondesque plot" as well as its action scenes that are "vivid and cinematic—and notably lacking in the clichés and B-movie tone of his dialogue". Publishers Weekly also hailed the scenes as "immensely suspenseful, breathtaking combos of expertly detailed combat and primal emotion".[10]

Criticism was focused on flat characters and the implausibility of the plot. A review from Orlando Sentinel stated: "Clancy may have crossed the line into the realm of the unbelievable...I suspect even some of his most rabid fans will shake their heads at parts of this novel."[11] Entertainment Weekly also noted that "some of [Clancy's] secondary characters have a flat, dime-novel feel".[12] Canadian environmentalist Paul Watson condemned the book as "a vicious defamation of the Environmentalist Movement, embodying, amplifying and packaging all the worst stereotypes and prejudices."[13]


Video game[edit]

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six was released on August 21, 1998, about two weeks after the release of the novel. It was developed alongside the novel and bases its plot on an early manuscript of the story.[9] The game was developed by Red Storm Entertainment (which was co-founded by Clancy in 1996) based on their preexisting concept of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team in an international setting.[14] Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six was a commercial success for Red Storm and spawned a number of sequels, now developed by Ubisoft. It revolutionized the first-person shooter genre by forcing the player to think tactically and realistically in every mission, unlike the arcade games of the time.[15][16]


In July 2017, Paramount Pictures announced plans to make a film adaptation of the novel with Akiva Goldsman as producer.[17] Ryan Reynolds was reported to be in early talks to play Clark.[18] In September 2018, Michael B. Jordan was announced to be playing the main character in a two-part film series, with Rainbow Six as the intended sequel to a film adaptation of another Clancy novel featuring Clark, Without Remorse.[19]

Release details[edit]

  • 1998, U.S., G. P. Putnam's Sons ISBN 0-399-14390-4, Pub date August 3, 1998, hardcover
  • 1998, U.K., Michael Joseph Ltd ISBN 0-7181-4336-1, Pub date August 27, 1998, hardback
  • 1998, U.S., Putnam Publishing Group ISBN 0-399-14413-7, Pub date August 1998, hardcover (Limited Edition)
  • 1998, U.S., Demco Media ISBN 0-606-17207-6, Pub date September 1998, unbound
  • 1998, U.S., Random House ISBN 0-375-70324-1, Pub date August 1998, paperback (Large Type Edition)
  • 1999, U.S., Berkley Publishing Group ISBN 0-425-17005-5, Pub date September 1999, paperback
  • 1999, U.S., Berkley Publishing Group ISBN 0-425-17034-9, Pub date September 1999, mass market paperback


  1. ^ "The New York Times bestseller list for August 23, 1998" (PDF). Retrieved September 22, 2018.
  2. ^ "Pentti Linkola: "Humanflood"".
  3. ^ "Radikalare än Thanos". June 3, 2019.
  4. ^ Greenberg, Martin H. The Tom Clancy Companion (Revised ed.). pp. 36–38.
  5. ^ "Luonnonsuojelija Pentti Linkola on kuollut – Elämäkerturi: "Hänellä oli ymmärrystä ja herkkyyttä kuunnella toista ihmistä"".
  6. ^ "Review 'Inferno' Another Preposterous Dan Brown Yawn". October 26, 2016.
  7. ^ "The Science of 'Avengers: Endgame' Proves Thanos Did Nothing Wrong". Forbes.
  8. ^ "Radikalare än Thanos". June 3, 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d "The agony and ecstasy behind the first Rainbow Six". Eurogamer.net. December 4, 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
  10. ^ "Fiction Book Review: Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  11. ^ Skoneki, Mark. "TOM CLANCY GOES BEYOND FANTASTIC INTO FANTASY". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  12. ^ Kennedy, Dana. "Book Review: 'Rainbow Six'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  13. ^ Paul G. Watson, "Propaganda, Lies and Vicious Lies", in The Rainbow Quarterly, Autumn 2001
  14. ^ "Postmortem: Redstorm's Rainbow Six". Gamasutra. January 21, 2000. Archived from the original on August 4, 2001. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  15. ^ "The History of Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six". Xbox Wire. March 31, 2015. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  16. ^ Packwood, Lewis. "The bizarre tale of how Tom Clancy sold his name to videogames". PCGamesN. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  17. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (July 11, 2017). "Akiva Goldsman Moves To Paramount; 'Rainbow Six,' 'Ologies' & 'Avengelyne' On Menu". Deadline. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
  18. ^ Gurwin, Gabe (July 13, 2017). "'Rainbow Six' Film In Development, Could Star Ryan Reynolds". Digital Trends. Retrieved October 6, 2018.
  19. ^ Kroll, Justin (September 20, 2018). "Michael B. Jordan to Play Tom Clancy Character John Clark". Variety. Retrieved October 6, 2018.

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