Butterfly Bill’s Home Page > Bliss Fire Press
|Books about the Rainbow Family|
Ten books have been written that describe the Rainbow Family and their Gatherings.
All are available for purchase online.
People of the Rainbow – a nomadic utopia
by Dr. Michael I. Niman,
An ethnography of the Rainbow Family written in sociological style. In his own words:
"This book describes different aspects of Rainbow Family life such as how the Rainbow Family Council functions; how the physical infrastructure of the Gatherings work; how they confront problems non-violently; who the Rainbow people are; how they are motivated to work in a society without money; how they relate to other communities and how they care for the land on which they gather. It also looks at internal contradictions within the Family and places the Family into an historical context. It examines how the mainstream world relates to the Rainbow Family; how the media sees them and reports on the Gatherings and how the U.S. government treats them. It also examines the Family's relationship with Native Americans from whom they've appropriated much of their culture and spiritual beliefs."
This book was first published in 1997, and had 274 pages. A second edition came out in November of 2011, and has 336 pages. Two new chapters have been added, one about the increasing number of gatherings in places other than the U.S.A., and another about the continuing attempts by the Forest Service police to suppress the gatherings, with a detailed examination of the 2008 Kid Village raid.
Copies may be obtained at Amazon or The U. of Tenn. Press.
Rainbow Gatherings – a memoir
by Butterfly Bill,
Another ethnography, in the form of a memoir of my experiences from my first Gathering in North Carolina in 1987, followed by many regionals and nationals from Vermont to Oregon until the one I attended in Montana in 2000. I describe the people who make the Gathering go and various parts of its infrastructure in the order that I was introduced to them myself over the course of 14 summers, giving many details. I examine their central ideal of anarchism, a society with no leaders, and describe how in spite of this leadership can arise spontaneously out of people trying to work together. I also examine their ideals of non-violence and non-coercion, and describe how successfully conflicts are resolved in peaceful ways and people are inspired to do things voluntarily.
Dr. Niman has called this a "native ethnography", "because of its attention to detail and methodological deconstruction of the Gatherings as physical and social entities. The author is a native participant writing about his own introduction to the Rainbow Family and his eventual self-identification as a Rainbow."
This book came out in 2010, and has 368 pages. It is also available as an e-book, in a Kindle version from Amazon, or as an ePub from the author.
See more information at
Purchase from the author
Somewhere under the Rainbow
by Tom Thumb,
Tom Thumb describes his decade or so of experiences with European gatherings, where many things are the same as in America, but other things are noticeably different. He talks of both the joys and frustrations of living an anarchistic society with detail and humor. In his own words:
“I’ve been going to Rainbow Gatherings in Europe and Israel for 12 years now, and it’s been an incredible journey. I arrived a cynic, more interested in what I could get out of the Rainbow than what I could ever give. Like a pebble in a stream, however, my sharp edges were smoothed as I learned to open up to others and share myself in a way that I could never could have imagined. This book then, is an attempt to share what the Rainbow has meant to me.”
This book came out in 2013 and has 202 pages. It is available from Amazon.com.
by Butterfly Bill,
This book takes up the story where the first volume of Rainbow Gatherings ends, in the autumn after the Montana national gathering in 2000, and continues thru ten more national gatherings until Tennessee in 2012.
These were years of confrontation with the law enforcement officers of the Forest Service and years of increased trust and cooperation with the resource management rangers. And they were years when a new generation of gatherers came into play, wearing new and different colors.
I narrate many councils I attended with various Forest Service officials, and relay many stories I heard at the Information counter about events all over the gathering, with the same attention to detail as the first book.
This book came out in 2013, and has 298 pages. It is also available in a Kindle version and as an e-book.
See more information at
by Mary Kohut,
This author went to her first Gathering in West Virginia in 2005 and then to the one in Colorado the next year. In her own words:
"In researching this group, I found little media; most of what I did find was overly simplistic. That's when I knew I had to do this right. I had to write a book exploring Rainbow history, concepts, politics, media coverage, and related activities."
This book was finished in 2008, and has 173 pages. It is available from Lulu.com, where you can either download it or obtain a bound paper copy.
by Dr. Chelsea Schelly,
An ethnography of the Rainbow Gathering with a special emphasis on how the physical arrangements of its infrastructure influence the behavior and overall culture of its people. In her own words,
“The technological structures that support human dwelling are shaped by and come to shape how we act and interact with one another. The physical systems at a Gathering, which are free and open and require active participation, support and even promote a cultural system that is also free and open and involves active participation. The material structures that support life at a Gathering ... reinforce an intangible cultural system. These technological structures require active participation, and they actively empower participants to engage in collective life in ways that enhance social connectivity.”
This book came out in 2014 and has 185 pages. It is now available from Amazon.com, but only in hardcover (at an academic textbook price). A lower priced paperback edition is due to come out in September 2015.
Go to purchase site at
Judge Dave and the Rainbow People
by David B. Sentelle,
At the Gathering in North Carolina in 1987, the Forest Service tried to issue an closure order blocking access. Some Rainbow lawyers challenged this order in court, and Judge Dave presided over the proceedings, finally ruling in favor of the Rainbows. He visited the site to gain better understanding, and later he wrote about what he saw in a 270 page book.
This book was first published in 2002. As far as I can make out, it is out of print and no longer available new from the publisher. Used copies can be obtained at Amazon.
Friends Along the Way
by Rich in Spirit,
Rich in Spirit, one of the principal focalizers of Instant Soup Kitchen, which for many years has been a venue for musicians at the July North American gatherings, has written about his life on the Rainbow road.
This book came out in 2012. It is available in a variety of paper formats, and also as an e-book (but you will need an Apple iOS device to read it; there is no PC compatible version).
Memoirs of a Lawyer and Warrior of the Rainbow
by Michael Linick,
Strider mounted a successful challenge to the permit requirement in 1998
In his own words,
This book came out in 2012. It is available for Kindle.
The Unpolished Man
by David Alexander English,
This is a long rambling autobiography starting in his childhood, and it covers every aspect of his vagabond life. Many of his years he spent going to Rainbow Gatherings in many different countries
In his own words,
Autobiography of the contemporary, visionary artist, world traveler, and imagineer David Alexander English...”
This came out in 2011. It is available from Amazon sudsidiary CreateSpace