From Publishers Weekly
This close-up look at the FBI's most elite unit by a 15-year veteran including firsthand accounts of actions at Waco and Ruby Ridge is alternately funny, exciting and disturbing. With his liberal arts background and experience as a D.C. speechwriter, Whitcomb was an unusual candidate for special agent. Currently director of information management for the Bureau's Critical Incident Response Group, he recounts his 1980s epiphany, following a State of the Union address, that he wanted to help preserve American democracy; he chose the FBI as his medium. He details the tricky, competitive process of becoming an agent, and humorously recalls how, as a cocky, ambitious FNG ("fucking new guy"), he clashed with his conservative superiors, yet soon valued their expertise as he chased an assortment of fugitives, bank robbers and kidnappers from a rural Missouri field office. He details these cases and his own growing expertise, then depicts with gallows humor the "physical and emotional hell" of applying to join the Hostage Rescue Team's (HRT). He succeeded and became a sniper, and offers excellent insight into the science and mindset of this rarefied killing art. In skillful prose, Whitcomb upholds the FBI's party line. Alongside sharp observations of the rituals and absurdities of federal law enforcement, he fiercely espouses an unreconstructed "thin blue line" philosophy whereby he perceives figures such as David Koresh and Randy Weaver simply as evil men and incompletely addresses civic disillusionment with the Bureau following Waco, Ruby Ridge and the FBI crime lab scandals. Still, Whitcomb ably portrays conflicts between the agency's factions Washington bureaucrats, profilers and negotiators, and the gung-ho HRT during these major crises. This valuable book makes a compelling read for armchair G-men everywhere. (Sept. 13)Forecast: There's always a market for insider FBI stories, and Whitcomb's involvement in the controversial Ruby Ridge and Waco incidents gives this one extra currency. A six-city author tour and print advertising in major newspapers should lead to brisk sales.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Special Agent Whitcomb here recounts his early years in the FBI, which included stops at Ruby Ridge and Waco as a sniper in the elite Hostage Rescue Team. Whitcomb is not only a true adventurer with interests in mountain climbing and sharpshooting but master of the "cold zero" shot the first, perfect shot. He is also a talented writer. Although he tends to go a little overboard with his patriotism and pride, this fast-paced memoir never lags. His realistic portrayal of the grinding training and work regimen coupled with the strains on family life make the "you-are-there" accounts of FBI operations in Waco, Bosnia, and, most recently, Vieques more gripping. A bit more background on these events would have helped with historical context. Still, it's hard to believe that Whitcomb has been an agent for only 15 years. Let's hope he stays with the FBI and continues writing. Karen Sandlin Silverman, Ctr. for Applied Research Philadelphia
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Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.