Rainbow Six (novel)

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For the Rainbow Six franchise, see Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six.
Rainbow Six
First edition cover
First edition cover
Author Tom Clancy
Country United States
Language English
Series Jack Ryan universe
Genre Techno thriller
Publisher G. P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date
August 1998
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 740 pp (first edition, hardback)
ISBN ISBN 0-399-14390-4 (first edition, hardback) & ISBN 0-425-17034-9 (paperback edition)
OCLC 39069409
813/.54 21
LC Class PS3553.L245 R35 1998
Preceded by Executive Orders
Followed by The Bear and the Dragon

Rainbow Six is a techno-thriller novel written by Tom Clancy. It focuses on John Clark, Ding Chavez, and a fictional multi-national counterterrorist unit codenamed Rainbow, rather than Jack Ryan and national politics. There is a series of video games by the same name.


Several NATO countries have collectively organized an elite counterterrorist unit, composed of the best soldiers from the militaries of several nations, named Rainbow. Based in Hereford, England (real-life home of the Special Air Service), the team is led by John Clark (who had the idea for Rainbow), a recurring character in Clancy's novels. Rainbow is "blacker than black," its American funding directed through the U.S. Interior Department by the U.S. Congress, then through the Pentagon's Office of Special Projects, with no connection whatsoever to the Intelligence Community. Fewer than a hundred people in Washington, D.C. know that Rainbow exists.


The idea for the title comes from the United States Color-coded War Plans, specifically the Rainbow Plans of the 1930s, where Rainbow Five is the last known plan. In these plans, various countries were given a color code, and the Rainbow Plans outlined strategies for dealing with potential conflicts between coalitions of countries. Rainbow Five, for instance, which is discussed extensively in the Plan Dog memo, details several U.S. strategies for America's involvement in World War II. For Rainbow Six, the aggressor is international terrorists. "Rainbow Six" also refers to John Clark, the leader of Rainbow, because "Six" is US military terminology for a unit commander. Additionally, the title symbolizes the multi-national nature of the elite unit. While a rainbow contains many colors, the unit contains many nationalities.

Plot summary[edit]

Central Intelligence Agency operative John Clark and Domingo Chavez join Special Air Service (SAS) officer Alistair Stanley in forming an elite multinational counter-terrorist unit known as Rainbow, based in Hereford, England. The unit consists of a highly effective and cohesive pair of operational squads, supplemented by intelligence and technological experts from the SAS. Clark is the commanding officer, while Chavez leads one of the two squads.

Not long after the establishment of Rainbow, a bank in Bern, Switzerland, becomes the site of a hostage situation, eventually determined to be led by wanted terrorist Ernst Model. In an early and desperate show of resolve, the terrorists kill one of the hostages, leading the Swiss government to seek help from Rainbow. Chavez's Team-2 is deployed to the scene and, disguised as policemen, is able to successfully breach the bank and kill the terrorists with no further loss of civilian lives.

Their plans destroyed, the eco-terrorists retreat to their refuge deep in the Brazilian rain forest, hoping to negotiate a deal to return to the United States. Clark, knowing that they may never be put on trial, tracks down the Brazilian hideout and deploys Rainbow to the location. After Rainbow defeats the eco-terrorists' militia force and destroys their facility and supplies, Clark has the survivors stripped naked and left to die, taunting them to "reconnect with nature." When no survivors resurface in nearby towns, one agent notes that although people try to preserve nature, nature is not known for returning the favor.

For his crucial assistance, Popov is not charged for his role in the attacks. The Horizon Corporation continues as a legitimate pharmaceutical corporation, without their CEO and the other employees involved in the never-revealed plot.

Release details[edit]

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

External links[edit]