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Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator Hardcover – September 21, 2010
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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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.
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
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What is most interesting is that Mr. Noesner does not pull his punches, yet at the same time remains respectful toward his former employer (the FBI) as well as the people he has worked with over the years. The author's descriptions ring true and fit with other details the reader can find through research, while at the same time filling in the blanks concerning much of what was happening behind the scenes. Mr. Noesner is a firm believer of hostage negotiations (and that negotiators should work closely with tactical agents), and that belief can be felt throughout the book.
I also enjoyed the quotes prefacing each chapter. It is a side benefit that some of the the techniques employed by hostage negotiators can be used by anyone to enhance their relationships in the workplace as well as in one's personal life (this is not a point made by the author, just a personal reflection).
"Stalling for Time" is an easy read, told in a story form that places the reader within the action. Many of the highlights of Mr. Noesner's career are some of the biggest news stories, such as Waco and the Freemen siege in Montana. For readers aware of these incidents this book will add to your knowledge, as well as educate those first hearing about these historical events.
This book is a mix of real life drama, true crime, and life saving events which are simply CAPTIVATING. Mr. Noesner takes you on a journey through his career and it is a journey you will not forget.
5 stars without hesitation!
Of particular interest for those who care to look deeper are the lessons learned by failures. For me at least, this is what sets this book apart from other autobiographies. Using clear and concise narrative in describing unfolding incidents the reader can't help but be drawn into the uncertainty, risk, personalities and politics that, for better or worse, influenced decisions and actions. Readers can almost feel the tensions and frustrations. If nothing else is taken from this book, the absolutely critical requirement of negotiators and tactical operators to work together to resolve these situations is self-evident.
I seldom make the effort to write a review but this book deserves the five-stars and I especially recommend it for those making life and death decisions in hostage situations.