Life on the Edge as an
FBI Hostage Negotiator
(Clindt Van Zandt
(With Daniel Paisner)
(Putnam)We originally reviewed Facing Down Evil for this issue but as will happen in the world of musons and electronic space, the review (and our original copy) got eaten up by the space spooks. If we were full-time in the fear business, we would think that Mr. Big was watching us, but since the review was fairly benign, actually mostly complimentary of the author and his real-life action scenes (how'd you like to be negotiating with a bunch of crazies with AK-47s and a variety of innocents in their clutches?) --- we believe it to be our own failure to make a backup copy rather the fact that we were reviewing a book on a rather obscure side of mostly hidden FBI functions.The main thrust of our review was that Hostage Negotiating as a business isn't for the faint-hearted. One has to do some fairly subtle negotiations, not unlike a high-level corporate manager. In one case, Van Zandt was forced to offer a kidnapper a helicopter, complete with a month's supply of food, if Van Zandt would permit him to leave the compound. (Mother and child were saved after a sharpshooter took out the bad guy).
We suggested that Van Zandt's techniques were worthy of study, for the ideal is not only to save the lives of the hostages but the hostagee. One has to make promises, but --- he tells us --- one never lies (stretch the truth often; lie never). Van Zandt was part of the negotiations with the Branch Davidians at Waco, and (apparently) was not a happy camper, suggesting that if his ideas had been in place, many lives would have been saved.
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At the end, the book devolves into a general (very generalized) faulting of the new directions of high-stakes hostage negotiation. Too, there is a general revulsion at the experiences the author had in Third World countries, especially on the streets of Manila where he almost died of food poisoning. An alarming turn of events for one who spends most of his days in intense negotiations with hostage-takers who could do him in at any moment with their weapons of choice at the drop of a hat. After years of such, to die of a meal of fried rat doesn't seem at all just.--- Lolita Lark