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Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator Hardcover – September 21, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (September 21, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400067251
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400067251
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #124,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Noesner, a former FBI hostage negotiator for 23 years, was the first person to run the bureau's Crisis Negotiation Unit. Looking back, he recalls some major standoffs along with his efforts to understand and interpret the behavior of hostage takers, sometimes finding negotiations thwarted by the actions of his own colleagues. The compelling centerpiece of the book is Noesner's analysis of "what went wrong at Waco" with the Branch Davidians when negotiation and tactical teams were working at cross purposes. After opening with a dramatic account of a man who abducted his estranged common-law wife and their son and was holding a gun to her head, Noesner describes his own "quintessentially American childhood," when he got the idea for his life's work from a segment about the FBI on The Mickey Mouse Club. Drawing on official reports, personal notes, memos, and memories of conversations, he writes with a simple style that nevertheless generates much suspense, recreating past events with a vivid intensity certain to fascinate true crime readers.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Formerly chief of the FBI’s unit for hostage negotiation, Noesner interlinks principles for talking to cornered desperadoes with cases from his career. Some of those caught nationwide attention, such as the disastrous 1993 siege of religious zealots in Waco, Texas, and here Noesner tells his side of the story. In his discussion of less-well-known incidents, Noesner underlines his core belief that negotiation is more effective in peacefully resolving standoffs than law enforcement’s method of tactical assault. Although professionals are the audience for that debate, true-crime readers have plenty to absorb in Noesner’s accounts, which include several episodes of the husband-abducting-wife-and-kids scenario, a couple of prison riots, three 1990s showdowns between the law and beleaguered fanatics (the Branch Davidians, the Montana Freemen, and the “Republic of Texas”), and a miscellany of terrorism and kidnapping incidents. Working his ideas into the narrative, Noesner reconstructs negotiating dialogue both as a critique of techniques, such as establishing rapport with a hostage taker, and as life-or-death drama. The latter, plus the inside-the-FBI tone, renders Noesner’s recollections a guaranteed attraction in new-books displays. --Gilbert Taylor

More About the Author

Gary Noesner retired from the FBI in 2003 following a 30 year career as an investigator, instructor, and negotiator. A significant focus of his career was directed toward investigating Middle East hijackings in which American citizens were victimized. In addition, he was an FBI hostage negotiator for 23 years of his career, spending the last ten years as the Chief Negotiator for the FBI. He retired as the Chief of the FBI's Crisis Negotiation Unit, Critical Incident Response Group, the first person to hold that position. In that capacity he was heavily involved in numerous hostage, barricade, and suicide incidents; covering prison riots, right-wing militia standoffs, religious zealot sieges, terrorist embassy takeovers, airplane hijackings, and over 120 overseas kidnapping cases involving American citizens.

Following his retirement from the FBI he became a Senior Vice President with Control Risks, an international risk consultancy, and most recently spent five and a half years working a kidnap case involving three American defense contractors taken hostage by the FARC in Colombia, South America. He continues to do kidnap management consulting work for Control Risks part-time.

He has three grown children and resides in Virginia with his wife Carol.

For additional information go to www.garynoesner.com

Customer Reviews

This is an interesting and well written book.
Doreen Mahlstedt
Written by Gary Noesner, it provides a fascinating insider's look into the world of FBI hostage negotiations, looking into cases such as Ruby Ridge and Waco.
S. Smith
While not a "how-to" book for negotiations, there are some lessons from the book that can be applied to business or in one's personal life.
CJ-MO

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Dave Cullen on September 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This was such a rewarding book. I've always been fascinated by that very basic question: when someone is disturbed and irrational enough to actually pick up a gun and take hostages, how on earth do you talk him down?

What was most startling to me was that until very recently in human history--a few decades ago--we didn't know.

The more I learned, the hungrier I got to learn more. How interesting that so much of it amounts to listening.

I had previously learned a great deal about hostage negotiators researching my book COLUMBINE. (The head of the FBI investigation in that case, Dr. Dwayne Fuselier, was a leading negotiator and I spent a great deal of time with him.) Fuselier spoke very highly of Gary Noesner, so I was curious.

I expected to skim through much it, but found myself hanging on every word. There is a great deal to learn here, and it was just as interesting to watch the story of how difficult it was to teach the FBI these ideas. Individuals picked them up rather easily, but making the institution embrace them was a bigger challenge.

My biggest surprise, though, was what a natural storyteller Noesner turned out to be. He has the easy style and readability of a lifelong novelist. It was a gripping and thoroughly enjoyable read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ranger5 on September 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a fair and balanced look inside the FBI's crisis negotiations and crisis management programs. Gary's observations of the process from an operator's view point is priceless and right on point. He writes in a non-critical converational style, pointing out the positives as well as the negatives associated with each incident. Unless you have been where the author has,you cannot understand or appreciate the tension involved in "stalling for time" when human life is at stake. Gary's reasoned approach to negotiations made a tremendous contribution to the rethinking of crisis management within the FBI. The mistakes highlighted in this book are easily made when managers/leaders rush to judgement at a crisis. This book should be required reading for any law enforcement professional. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good read as well!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kate Stokes VINE VOICE on September 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A faced paced and informative look at the world of hostage negotiating. The writing is very down to earth and should be accessible by readers at any level. I find myself already being more mindful of some of the techniques discussed in the book during my personal business dealings. The concepts detailed in the book can (and do) apply to most situations of conflict that normal people encounter in their day to day affairs. This is perhaps the greatest strength of the book. The dramatic vignettes do not cover any new ground in the true crime genre; the concepts behind them, however, are immensely helpful to anyone who may find themselves in conflict with others since we will all encounter more of these situations before our life is over. 4/5 stars.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dr. J. J. Kregarman VINE VOICE on October 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is riveting but with wider implications than the stories it tells. Over and again Gary Noesner emphasizes how important it is to have trained negotiators available to manage hostage and other crisis situations and how deadly can be the all-to-human tendency to rely on force as a first response. We, as Americans, should be very grateful for his service and make sure that we have people with his skills available in our future because the need for such skills is sure to arise. His telling of his interview of Majed al-Mulqi, leader of the terrorist hijacking of the Achille Lauro, was most illuminating. Here useful information including an admission of murder was forthcoming where confrontational interviews had drawn a blank. Over and again instances are related where horrendous situations were defused without needless loss of life. Required reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By CJ-MO VINE VOICE on September 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was fascinated from the very first chapter of Gary Noesner's true stories from his experiences as an FBI hostage negotiator. Mr. Noesner shares details of selected cases which represent the development of his career and the discipline of hostage negotiation within the FBI. The author shares insights into well-known cases such as Ruby Ridge and Waco as well as situations unknown to most people. You could tell that the author was not only proud of his accomplishments in the field of hostage negotiation, but also sincere and caring in his dealings with the hostages and the perpetrators.

I found the book to be interesting, action-packed, and as much of a page-turner as the most exciting suspense novel. While these aren't funny situations being described, the author did manage to insert some humor when appropriate. I learned a lot about the negotiation process, what can go wrong, and how the use of force can often make a dangerous situation even worse. I found the book to be very enlightening and was sorry to see it end. I could have continued reading more of the author's descriptions and insights from his FBI experiences. While not a "how-to" book for negotiations, there are some lessons from the book that can be applied to business or in one's personal life. For example, allow others to save face and keep their dignity when resolving a conflict, don't let your own pride get in the way of a solution, and finally know when to be more forceful and when to back off. I highly recommend this exciting and thought-provoking book.
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