Marcinko, Richard 1940-

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Marcinko, Richard 1940-


Born November 21, 1940, in Lansford, PA; son of George L. (a coal miner) and Emilie T. Marcinko; married Kathy Black, 1962 (marriage ended, 1985); married Nancy Alexander, September 4, 1993; children: (first marriage) Kathy, Richie; stepchildren: (second marriage) Brandy, Tiffany. Education: U.S. Navy Postgraduate School, B.A.; attended United States Air Force Air Command & Staff College; Auburn University, M.A.


Home—Alexandria, VA. Agent—Witherspoon Associates, Inc., 157 W. 57th St., Ste. 700, New York, NY 10019.


U.S. Navy, 1958-89; became commander; served in Sea, Air, Land unit (SEALS) in Vietnam, 1966-68; naval attaché in Cambodia, 1973; president of Special Operational Security (SOS) Temps, Inc.

Richard Marcinko, Inc., founder and conductor of motivational seminars; Zodiac Boats Maritime Training Academy, spokesman; Oakley Sunglasses, spokesman; Red Cell International Corporation, chairman of the board.


Recipient of Legion of Merit, Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat V (4 times), Navy Commendation Medal (2 times), Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star.



(With John Weisman) Rogue Warrior (autobiography), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Rogue Warrior: The Real Team (biography), Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Leadership Secrets of the Rogue Warrior: A Commando's Guide to Success, Pocket Guides (New York, NY), 1996.

The Rogue Warrior's Strategy for Success: A Commando's Principles of Winning, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1997.


Red Cell, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1994.

Green Team, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Task Force Blue, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Designation Gold, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1997.

SEAL Force Alpha, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Operation Delta, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Echo Platoon, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Detachment Bravo, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 2001.

(Sole author) Violence of Action, Atria (New York, NY), 2002.

(With Jim DeFelice) Vengeance, Atria (New York, NY), 2005.

(With Jim DeFelice) Holy Terror, Atria (New York, NY), 2006.


The Rogue Warrior's Strategy for Success: A Commando's Principles of Winning was adapted as a sound recording, Simon & Schuster Audio (New York, NY), 1997; several of Marcinko's "Rogue Warrior" novels were also adapted as audionovels by Simon & Schuster.


Richard Marcinko is coauthor of Rogue Warrior, an account of his often harrowing experiences during his thirty-year career in the U.S. Navy. Rogue Warrior, written with John Weisman, provides a particularly grueling depiction of life in the Navy's Sea, Air, and Land unit (SEALS), in which Marcinko served as a commander. In the mid-1960s he fought in Vietnam and in the 1970s and 1980s he served in SEALS counter-terrorist operations. "I'm good at war," Marcinko confided to People in 1992. "My philosophy is, kill them before they kill us." In the same People profile he complained about the managerial function of many career officers and declared: "Even in Vietnam, the system kept me from hunting and killing as many of the enemy as I would have liked." David Murray, assessing Rogue Warrior in the New York Times Book Review, proclaimed Marcinko's story "fascinating," and Robert Lipsyte, writing in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, acknowledged the book's "sheer readability." Lipsyte observed that Rogue Warrior possesses "a manic energy."

Marcinko has stated that he wrote Rogue Warrior to cover the legal expenses of a 1990 trial in which he was accused of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. The specific charges involved a kickback of 100,000 dollars that Marcinko purportedly received in exchange for helping a vendor obtain a government contract for grenades. Although Marcinko was convicted and spent fifteen months in prison, the author claims the charges against him were actually motivated by a vendetta of the military brass he had embarrassed in a 1984 anti-terrorist operation. At the behest of the U.S. Navy, Marcinko formed a special unit known as Red Cell that staged mock terrorist attacks to demonstrate weaknesses in military defenses. Successful mock attacks staged by Red Cell included planting "bombs" near Air Force One and seizing a nuclear submarine.

Marcinko and Weisman have continued their collaboration with a series of best-selling paperback novels set in the same milieu and featuring a fictionalized Marcinko as the protagonist. Later novels in the series were written by Marcinko and Jim DeFelice. According to Marcinko, he had to turn to fiction because the U.S. government had warned him not to reveal any more SEAL or defense information. The first novel in this action-adventure series is Red Cell, published in 1994. Roland Green, writing in Booklist, commented: "How much of this sequel to the legendary and unorthodox SEALS leader's memoirs is fiction and how much actual fact is likely to remain forever in dispute." As the story opens, the fictional Marcinko—described by a Publishers Weekly writer as "the novel's cynical, coarse, egotistical, irreverent and bloody hero"—is recalled from retirement to assume his former rank of Navy Captain. Marcinko is told to put together a special team of SEALS to be known as Red Cell; their goals are to prevent the sale of nuclear devices to North Korea and to test the security of American military bases. The emphasis here is on action, with detailed descriptions of training, weapons, and hand-to-hand combat. Red Cell and Marcinko emerge victorious, seizing a tanker with contraband weapons in the Pacific, and exposing the corruption of American politicians. The Publishers Weekly writer concluded: "A surefire bet for wannabe soldiers of fortune, this is also a frighteningly plausible scenario of political and military power gone astray."

Other entries in the "Rogue Warrior" series find Marcinko and his cohorts confronting the threat of germ warfare (Green Team), tracking down a stolen nuclear device (Option Delta), and battling the Soviets over control of the oil-rich Caspian Sea (Echo Platoon). Reviewing the ninth installment in the series, Detachment Bravo, in which Marcinko tangles with the a terrorist arm of the Irish Republican Army, Green, writing this time in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, observed: "What readers have seen in hero-author Marcinko's previous outings is on view in this one, too." A Publishers Weekly reviewer, describing Detachment Bravo as "a military vigilante's fantasy," went on to note: "Make no mistake—these irreverent characters skewer the establishment and trumpet opinions on what's wrong with the world today (e.g., political correctness, environmentalism) while upholding their pledge to defend it from terrorists."

Marcinko is the sole author of the 2002 entry in the series, Violence of Action, but he did not deviate from the previous formula. The plot is derived from 9-11 and other terrorist actions, and the fictional Marcinko faces a terrorist with a stolen nuclear bomb. The author then partnered with DeFelice to write Vengeance, the eleventh book in the series. A Kirkus Reviews critic commented that Vengeance is more enjoyable than Violence of Action, and described the book as "ridiculous fun, like Lethal Weapon flicks."

The twelfth "Rogue Warrior" novel, Holy Terror, portrays the fictional Marcinko in Vatican City as he instructs NATO officials in counterterrorism. The usual thrilling, fast-paced action particular to the series ensues. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that "Marcinko and DeFelice's iconoclastic hero takes no prisoners while kicking terrorist butt in this breezy techno-thriller."

Independently, Marcinko has penned three nonfiction books related to the "Rogue Warrior" series. Rogue Warrior: The Real Team presents ten short biographies of Navy SEALS, identifying them in terms of models for the fictional characters in the "Rogue Warrior" novels. The book also draws a parallel between military training and corporate team building. A writer for Publishers Weekly was highly critical of Rogue Warrior: The Real Team depicting it as an "advertising ploy" for Marcinko's "planned CrossRoads Training and Development Center for corporate leadership development," and concluding: "Readers with the right stuff will feel burned by this blatant exercise in self-promotion." In Leadership Secrets of the Rogue Warrior: A Commando's Guide to Success, Marcinko offers what a Publishers Weekly reviewer described as "a bracing, gutsy, tough-talking empowering manual aimed at business managers." In addition to setting out "Ten Commandments of SpecWar" (special warfare) that managers should follow, Marcinko supports his strategies with relevant examples from IBM, Chrysler, Waldenbooks, and other major corporations. "His pep talk," concluded the Publishers Weekly writer, "should be required reading for managers who want to weed out prima donnas, transform the lazy and motivate the troops." The sequel to Leadership Secrets of the Rogue Warrior, titled The Rogue Warrior's Strategy for Success: A Commando's Principles of Winning, fared less well with a Publishers Weekly critic, who found Marcinko's corporate success stories to be dated, characterized his approach as "Rambo in pinstripes," and felt that "specifics for achieving business success are hard to come by in these pages."

Marcinko once told CA: "Since the demise of the Soviet Union there are now at least five hundred Dick Marcinkos out there who used to work for the KGB, GRV, and SPETSNAZ; who own no property; who didn't write a best-seller; who don't have a retirement fund; who have to make a living doing what they do best. Some maniac is going to buy their talents and use them for personal gain. There is no world order. Today's world is like a box of rubber bands. Today the ‘tail is wagging the dog’ instead of ‘the dog wagging the tail.’ I'll always have fresh experiences to write about. I get the data from my experience as president of Special Operational Security (SOS) Temps, Inc., contracted worldwide. Through Richard Marcinko, Inc., I conduct motivational and team building seminars for Fortune 500 companies. Once again I take on the bureaucracy. Some things never change! Namely me."



Marcinko, Richard, and John Weisman, Rogue Warrior, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1992.


Booklist, March 1, 1994, Roland Green, review of Red Cell; March 1, 1995, Roland Green, review of Green Team, p. 1179; February 1, 1996, Roland Green, review of Task Force Blue, p. 917; October 1, 2002, Roland Green, review of Violence of Action, p. 302; May 15, 2005, review of Vengeance, p. 1637; April 15, 2006, Roland Green, review of Holy Terror, p. 29.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2005, review of Vengeance, p. 442.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 5, 1992, Robert Lipsyte, review of Rogue Warrior, p. 2; January 1, 1999, Roland Green, review of Operation Delta, p. 832; March 15, 2000, Roland Green, review of Echo Platoon, p. 1293; May 1, 2001, Roland Green, review of Detachment Bravo, p. 1667.

New York Times Book Review, April 19, 1992, David Murray, review of Rogue Warrior, p. 12.

People, May 4, 1992, author profile and interview, pp. 155-156.

Publishers Weekly, February 7, 1994, review of Red Cell, p. 118; February 6, 1995, review of Green Team, p. 77; April 8, 1996, review of Leadership Secrets of the Rogue Warrior: A Commando's Guide to Success, p. 51; February 10, 1997, review of Designation Gold, p. 68; May 5, 1997, review of The Rogue Warrior's Strategy for Success: A Commando's Principles of Winning, p. 191; December 21, 1998, review of Operation Delta, p. 57; April 26, 1999, review of Rogue Warrior: The Real Team, p. 69; April 23, 2001, review of Detachment Bravo, p. 49; September 30, 2002, review of Violence of Action, p. 51; May 9, 2005, review of Vengeance, p. 42; May 8, 2006, review of Holy Terror, p. 48.


Richard Marcinko Home Page, (March 30, 2007).