- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Random House; American First edition (Sept. 21 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400067251
- ISBN-13: 978-1400067251
- Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 2.2 x 24.2 cm
- Shipping Weight: 440 g
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #347,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator Hardcover – Sep 21 2010
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“Riveting . . . the most in-depth and absorbing section is devoted to the 1993 siege near Waco, Texas.”—The Washington Post
“Captivating . . . an electrifying read . . . No Hollywood movie can top this story for thrills, suspense, or action.”—New York Journal of Books
“Certain to fascinate true crime readers . . . The compelling centerpiece of the book is Noesner’s analysis of ‘what went wrong at Waco’ with the Branch Davidians.”—Publishers Weekly
“Engrossing . . . The book is also an intimate history of contemporary American militia movements.”—New Republic
"Gary Noesner is a gripping storyteller, and man, does the guy have stories. It's like watching an emotional bomb squad defuse explosive personalities. The big surprise is how recently the FBI learned the basic tenets of what makes a man put the gun down, a discovery story as captivating as the hostage standoffs that illuminate it." —Dave Cullen, Author of Columbine
“Gary Noesner has done something remarkable with this book, turning the murky process of hostage negotiations into a set of predictable and clear routes to bargaining success."—Robert B. Cialdini, bestselling author of Influence: Science and Practice
“Tortured people, desperate moments, dangerous solutions. Stalling For Time takes us deep into the lethal world of hostages, sieges, and terrorsism. Gary Noesner, a thirty year veteran of the Bureau, has written a landmark work that’s both a nail-biting thriller and an expose of timely importance. This is a must-read not only for true crime fans but for every cop and G-Man in the country.”—John Huddy, bestselling author of Storming Las Vegas
"Stalling for Time reads with the page-turning intensity of a first-rate thriller, only everything here is, remarkably, true. In finally opening up about his craft -- about his 30 years spent reasoning with unreasonable people in situations that were literally life and death -- Gary Noesner has written an essential book about the fine art of communication. For anyone who wants to know how to stay cool under fire, this book is indispensable."—Douglas Stone, best-selling author of Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
"Gary Noesner has written an account of his decades-long career as a hostage negotiator that is so gripping it grabs the reader by the throat. It's a spectacular read and every word of it is true."—Peter Bergen, author of Holy War, Inc. and The Osama bin Laden I Know
“An intense, immersive narrative, making [Noesner’s] real-life experiences read like episodes of a good cop drama . . . vicariously entertaining.”—Kirkus Reviews
“The world doesn’t need me to tell them that Gary Noesner has been there, and done that. There are hundreds of living victims across the globe that are living testament to Gary’s abilities to successfully negotiate, or teach others effective crisis negotiation.”—Lt. Tom Monahan, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept., Director, Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center
About the Author
Gary Noesner retired from the FBI in 2003 following a thirty-year career as an investigator, instructor, and negotiator. An FBI hostage negotiator for twenty-three years of his career, he spent ten years as the bureau's Chief Negotiator. Following his retirement from the FBI he became a Senior Vice President with Control Risks, an international consultancy. Noesner has appeared on numerous television documentaries produced by A&E, the History Channel, Discovery, TLC, and National Geographic. He is the founder of the National Council of Negotiation Associations, which represents about eighteen organizations and thousands of law enforcement negotiators nationwide. He speaks at law enforcement and corporate events and continues to consult part-time.See all Product description
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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.
Mr. Noesner writes extensively about WACO, but also about many other incidents that he was involved in over his long career. In one incident, the FBI had learned from past mistakes and defused another potentially explosive situation. Mr. Noesner writes that the media drifted away, as a peaceful outcome was not news.
To take the most notable example, in the Waco incident, he comes to the end of the section, noting how he was certain Koresh was stalling and not writing the Seals. Except, when Ruth Riddle came out of the burning building, she carried a disk with the First Seal. Now, we could parse over the meaning of that, the validity of Koresh et. al. but Noesner clearly sidesteps and omits this, and actually directly contradicts this. At a deeper level, reading without emotion, it becomes clear Noesner struggles with his "government hero" need to deflect or explain away faults (and expressly makes notes when naming names, that he means no harm, which takes away the sting from the bite) and his "personally moral hero" in Noesner being a naturally wonderful human, who truly wants to improve the ability to save lives. This struggle comes out - likely subconsciously - when detailing events that could have been handled better.
There are a few other places where there was "sin by omission".
That said, it was also a fabulous read, generally documented well from Noesner's angle, and had great explanations in the negotiation strategies employed in various fields, contexts and situations around the world. Noesner does have the ability to read people fairly well, but there is a touch of feeling in situations where things went wrong, Noesner, himself, claims no fault and "should have listened to me". Noesner may well have had the best idea, but it can come across underdeveloped on WHY his strategy is the best. One scenario may explain it thoroughly, then another scenario with a different strategy is reduced to "just trust me I know best". I would clearly believe he does, but this is a book written for readers, so I'd like to have seen some of that explained more.