Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Stalling for Time by Gary Noesner
On Thursday, April 7, Gary Noesner will speak about his new book, Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator. The event is sponsored by Valley Writers, a chapter of the Virginia Writers Club. Noesner is a writer living just across Smith Mountain Lake from my house. He's a hell of a story teller.
Stalling for Time takes us through several high-profile and no-profile FBI hostage crises. From cases that made local, but not national news, to those that kept us glued to our television screens for weeks, Noesner shows us which tactics work and which don't, who makes the best negotiators, how and why things can go dreadfully wrong. Since he was involved in developing the current hostage negotiation techniques, he knows what he's talking about.
Small cases like the distraught man who takes his two children and wife hostage in a hot railroad car. Noesner helped various law-enforcement groups on the same tactical page of trying to talk the man out with limited or no loss of life. Unfortunately, the baby and wife died, but the man emerged with his daughter. Both are safe but forever changed by what happened.
High-profile cases like the Branch Davidian stand-off outside Waco, TX, filled the headlines and television nationwide for weeks. Even though the negotiators were making progress, some in charge were unwilling to wait. We remember what happened: the FBI abandoned negotiations, attacked the compound and too many people died in a conflagration.
Noesner talks candidly about his clashes with colleagures and superiors. Some times he wins the power play; some times he loses. He never stops trying, however, to move the non-violent negotiation through to a peaceful resolution.
A good story very well told. If you want a glimpse into what it's like in an FBI hostage negotiation, read this book. You'll find the stress and boredom collide to produce intense fatigue and happiness when everything goes according to the script.
I wonder what he'll write next.