Red Rabbit

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Red Rabbit
Red Rabbit cover.jpg
Mass market paperback cover
Author Tom Clancy
Audio read by Derrick Hagon
Country United States
Language English
Series Jack Ryan
Publisher G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date
August 5, 2002
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback), Audio
Pages 640
ISBN 0399148701
Preceded by Patriot Games
Followed by The Hunt for Red October

Red Rabbit is a spy thriller novel, written by Tom Clancy and released on August 5, 2002. It directly follows the events of Patriot Games (1987). The plot incorporates the 1981 assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II, as Jack Ryan, now an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency, must rescue a Soviet defector who overheard of a KGB plot to kill the pontiff. While suffering from poor reviews, Red Rabbit debuted at number one on the New York Times bestseller list.[1]

Plot summary[edit]

Jack Ryan, from Baltimore, former U.S. Marine, Naval Academy history professor and author, turned CIA analyst, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the British Secret Intelligence Service help with transporting a Russian defector and his family to the United States. The defector tells of a KGB plan to kill newly selected Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in Rome from Poland, the first non-Italian pontiff in centuries. The assassination is ordered by Yuri Andropov, the head of the KGB, out of concern of the Pope's support of the Polish Solidarity trade union and democracy movement. Should Poland wiggle out of the Soviet sphere of influence, Andropov lacks confidence he can crush it with military force as the Russians did three decades earlier with the 1956 Hungarian uprising or the "Prague Spring" in Czechoslovakia in 1968, and that idea is ruled out as the new conservative Republican American President, Ronald Reagan, is not as relaxed as his predecessors towards Soviet aggression. While Andropov gets universal support from the Politburo and senior members of the KGB, he does not calculate one factor, Captain Oleg Zaitzev, a junior officer in the KGB, whom, although not told of the plot, pieces it together when transmitting one-time pad coding to the KGB chief of station in Italy. Zaitzev, who secretly reads a Bible and honors the Russian Orthodox Christian faith, is haunted he will be doomed to Hell for participating in a conspiracy to kill a man who did nothing to him or his native country. Ed Foley, a CIA agent assigned to Moscow, frequently takes the same subway as Zaitzev, and his better clothing causes Zaitzev to realize he is an American when he sees and passes him by. Zaitzev slips notes inside Foley's pocket to wear certain colored ties on a specific days of the week if he wishes to communicate. A careful game must ensue to ensure both men are genuine and not "dangles", with Foley ultimately communicating with CIA Headquarters that Zaitzev is a "rabbit" (one seeking defection and immediate exit from the country), along with his wife and young daughter. Other themes explored are Jack Ryan's adjustment to being stationed in England while his wife Cathy gets a job as an eye surgeon in a British hospital, Andropov's Politburo service under the waning years of the Era of Stagnation and a doddering Soviet general secretary of the Communist Party, Leonid Breznev, as well as shortages in the Soviet economy and its drab existence for the majority of its populace, whilst the Politburo and other select elites live in places as nicely furnished as any of the "Western capitalists" they denounce.


Upon its release the novel received somewhat poor reviews. Critics praised Clancy's believable account of the plot, but disdained the lack of suspense. Reviewers for CNN and The New York Times considered the development of the main plot slow and tedious and noted that sub-plots remained underdeveloped and unresolved. Another criticism was medium to heavy use of anachronisms, such as Jack suggesting investing in Starbucks. At the time of the novel, Starbucks had one location; which seemed highly unlikely it would branch out into international markets. [2][3] Reviewers for Publishers Weekly and Esquire believed the involvement of Clancy's main character Ryan in the main plot to be highly marginal.[4][5] Nevertheless, the novel reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller List.[6]


  1. ^ "BEST SELLERS: August 25, 2002". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 July 2018. 
  2. ^ Meagher, L.D. (September 24, 2002). "Review: Clancy's 'Red Rabbit' rotten". CNN. Retrieved 2006-10-23. 
  3. ^ Maslin, Janet (August 15, 2002). "Books of the Times: Swipes About Hollywood And Other Media Types". The New York Times. 
  4. ^ Miller, Adrienne (September 11, 2002). "Clancy Time". Esquire. Archived from the original on September 22, 2002. Retrieved 2006-10-23. 
  5. ^ "Red Rabbit". Publishers Weekly. July 29, 2002. Retrieved 2006-10-23. [permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "NYT Best Sellers List; Fiction" (PDF). Hawes Publications. August 25, 2002. Retrieved 18 January 2010.