Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator by Gary Noesner

29 May

 A fast-paced recap of the career of a Hostage Negotiator, including highlights and low points, the book is, at times, an entertaining read. However, Noesner spends a fair bit of time defending himself, and casting aspersions on others, for the calamity that was Waco. It is his contention that, had the higher ups constrained the more militant members of the FBI, he and his team of negotiators would, slowly but surely, have gotten most of the people out. From the information provided by Noesner, this seems very likely to be the case, but, it is a case of Noesner protesting too much. By throwing over former colleagues, Noesner leaves a reader with bad feelings towards him.

In general, Noesner treats those in opposition to him with respect, trying mostly to understand their thinking. There is, unfortunately, one glaring exemption where he shows pure contempt for those on the other side. This is in his treatment of the situation on Vieques (an island in the Caribbean that belongs to Puerto Rico, a U.S. Commonwealth). He characterizes the Puerto Ricans who were opposing the U.S. Navy’s live bombing exercises on Vieques as ignorant and stupid. It is a more than unsavory element, especially coming so late in the book. As a Puerto Rican, and knowing of many other communities in the U.S. that have waged the same losing battle against having live ammunition so close to their families, this strikes me as patently unfair and makes me wonder if Noesner’s problem is more with Hispanic people than with activists. An uneven book, I would not recommend it to others…as vanity projects go, this one seeks to rewrite history in a way that flatters only one person, and that is Noesner.

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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Book Reviews


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