Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cold Zero: Inside the FBI Hostage Rescue Team” as Want to Read:
Cold Zero: Inside the FBI  Hostage Rescue Team
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Cold Zero: Inside the FBI Hostage Rescue Team

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  668 ratings  ·  46 reviews
For the first time a member of the F.B.I.Us elite Hostage Rescue Team--its most highly trained and specialized squadron that handles large-scale emergencies in the U.S.--reveals his experiences, describing in breathtaking detail the brutal training, the weapons and tactics, and the dramatic showdowns that marked many of his missions, including Ruby Ridge and Waco.
Paperback, 528 pages
Published October 1st 2002 by Grand Central Publishing (first published November 1st 2001)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cold Zero, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Cold Zero

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.92  · 
Rating details
 ·  668 ratings  ·  46 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Cold Zero: Inside the FBI Hostage Rescue Team
Barry Sierer
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Christopher Whitcomb, who is also a fiction writer, originally went to Washington DC to be congressional speechwriter. He decided to join the FBI and eventually found his footing in the Bureau after being exiled to a satellite office in Missouri during his first year. He decided that he needed a new challenge and passed the demanding selection process for the Hostage Rescue Team.

Whitcomb’s prose is direct, sharp, and explicit regarding what he sees as well as his own impressions of the people he
Isaiah Campbell
The book that I will be reviewing is the popular New York Times bestseller is cold
This was written by an author that I had never heard of his name is Christopher Whitcomb but this was his first book and was a great success. I’ll start by writing a little about the author Chris Whitcomb is a 15 year veteran of the F.B.I, serves in the critical incident response group’s tactical intelligence unit. In this role he oversees FBI intelligence gathering and information management operations durin
Jul 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: listened-2019
Whitcomb's biography of life as an FBI agent is well-written and engaging. He is confident in his abilities, also evidenced by the successes of his career, and provides a, I presume, lightly filtered account the challenges of being an agent

There are two missed opportunities in Whitcomb's narrative. The most glaring is the disconnect between his contempt for the political process during Ruby Ridge and Waco and his appreciation for the ability of CIRG to professionally manage crisis. As a particip
Natalie Poirier
Nov 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: stopped-reading
I found Cold Zero: Inside the FBI Hostage Rescue Team by Christopher Whitcomb when I was browsing a used bookstore in my hometown. It was only 50 cents so I said why not. I only read the first 100 pages and decided it was time to DNF the book. The book was well written and Chris described circumstances very well. However, I think it came down to personal preference. I just found the book to be boring. I thought it would be a very interesting tale about the FBI but I found it rather dull and slow ...more
Johann Lilly
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Mr. Whitcomb's description of life in the FBI prior to HRT seems idyllic--more like propaganda--compared to the bureaucratic blockades of other books from Special Agents. This may reflect the decade in which he served, prior to HRT. Upon further reflection, it could be the experience of those who perform at the highest levels--those who are the best of the best. The complaints of those who fail various selections or fail to advance in a military or government position can overshadow the intransi ...more
Samuel R.
Nov 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I grabbed this not really thinking about what it was about. Just going by the cover and thinking it was a piece of fiction. Reading through it I was pleasantly surprised at how it was laid out and written. It gives a very good, first-hand account of one person's rise through the ranks in the FBI. The author is able to convey not only the personal stresses and rigors of his job but also the effect it had on his family and friends, leaving you with a better understanding of the HUMAN side of holdi ...more
Ye Zhou
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A Terrific Experience

Lucky to have a well-educated former English major student as the protagonist. This is a real-life adventure. And I feel relieved that you didn’t take the shot.
Greer Andjanetta
Apr 12, 2021 rated it liked it
A somewhat routine thriller about a kidnapped first lady of the USA. Readable, but not very mysterious and some threads which are introduced during the story are never followed up on or resolved before the book ends. Lots of mayhem and bodies.
Bill Pryor
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific Read

Easy page turner and Whitcomb puts you into the action. It feels like he is whispering into your ear as you walk into one harrying situation after another.
Judith Erwin
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down, which is rarely true for me. I found the material fascinating and the prose outstanding.
May 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This close-up look at the FBI's most elite unit by a 15-year veteran including firsthand accounts of actions at Waco and Ruby Ridge is alternately funny, exciting and disturbing.

With his liberal arts background and experience as a D.C. speechwriter, Whitcomb was an unusual candidate for special agent. Currently director of information management for the Bureau's Critical Incident Response Group, he recounts his 1980s epiphany, following a State of the Union address, that he wanted to help preser
Oct 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Cold Zero
The book that I read was cold zero by Christopher Whitecomb and it is about an FBI agent who goes through training and how it affected his home life and all of the hardships that he had to go though in moving his family around and how his training was. Also Whitecomb tells us about how he had to go through training and he tried to win shooting competitions and how the FBI is so particular in everything that they do. I would probably rate this book a four out of ten because it wasn’t ver
Kate Lowell
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: research
I really enjoyed this. Mr. Whitcomb writes well. I'm always a little leery going into autobiographical stories, because the quality of the writing varies so much, but I can guarantee that isn't a problem with this one. (He does have a degree in English, and spend part of his career as a writer.)

I think my favorite part about this books was Mr. Whitcomb's ability to let the reader see the wide variety of people that join the FBI, and to portray the personalities involved. There's a certain degre
Oct 09, 2009 rated it liked it
In this sort-of memoir Whitcomb tells many stories from a ground-level perspective, relating details of day-to-day life in the FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Team. He was on-site for both the Ruby Ridge and Waco stand-offs in the 1990s and provides an interesting view into those events, though I wish he gave more context and analysis of what were major law enforcement egagements. In some ways it's understandable that he talks mostly about what he saw directly at the time. However, as the book contin ...more
Dec 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Good book that will not only teach you some things about the FBI HRT but also give some insights on the author's own life, his personal issues in serving with the FBI and the morality of doorkicking LEO in the civilian world.

Unfortunately much of the book is spent by the author in waiting for things to happen, related to very important cases such as Ruby Ridge or Waco... interesting and relevant for the issues outlined above and the transformations applied to the FBI afterwards ... but frustrati
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Whitcomb is not your traditional FBI lawyer type. He came from an English literature background and was a Congressional speech writer before he joined the bureau. However, after working a short time in Missouri as a field agent, he was selected for duty on HRT. He participated in Ruby Ridge and Waco among other missions. The book has some introspective qualities but it also has curse words and feels realistic. While all FBI books must be pre-approved by HQ, this one does manage to speak in some ...more
Jul 17, 2007 rated it liked it
I enjoy a good thriller as much as the next airport reader, but sometimes one craves a bit of truth in their diet. Two books dealing with special operations and clandestine operatives stand out. For those interested in the life, both books cover the recruiting and training aspects, as well as some of the actual operations.
Cold Zero is written by a former FBI sniper that was part of their elite Hostage Rescue Team. By Way of Deception provides a some what scary depiction of the inside workings of
Oct 13, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A disappointment after making promises to be a first-person account of thrilling FBI sniper missions. The first half of the book was just about engaging with its descriptions of the tough training required to make it to FBI's elite units. After that, the missions Whitcomb described were just plain dull and dreary. His philosophical musings make for more entertaining reading than his missions and it wasn't supposed to be that way. I am sure there are better books of this sort out there and I am g ...more
Oct 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is enlightening as to some of the training involved in becoming and being a member of the FBI and the personal character and physical stamina of the agents. The field of law enforcment demands many sacrifices, and it takes a special person indeed to perform the duties with honesty, integrity, and commitment. The author is obviously proud of his service and achievements during his career.
Sep 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews
This was a good book.The theme of the book was justice.In this book the author moved from state to state arresting bad guys.From rapist to drug lords he shot hand cuffed and killed some of the worst people alive.Him and his team do it all and I really enjoyed reading it.The author was telling the readers about what it was like to be in the FBI.I think males would enjoy it over females.It was very long.
Everly Reynolds
Jun 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
Definitely not jam-packed with what you'd expect: covert missions and hostage rescue attempts. There was a lot of detail - almost too much - but before you'd get to where you thought the action would be described, the chapter was ended and there would be a new story started. Compared to other books of this genre, I felt that's where it was lacking. However, this book does provide some great FBI insights if you're not looking for non-stop action. ...more
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-justice
I literally couldn't put it down. A man who made determined choices to succeed and have a better life and serve his country, and he accomplished all of it. He took part in important hostage-raid situations in Ruby Ridge and Waco with the Davidians. I was working for Congress the day that attack went down and I remember it well. Written with heart. Written pragmatically. You finish feeling you really know what these men go through to perform their duties. ...more
Oct 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: true-crime
An interesting outline of the author's experiences of some of the major events in the last twenty years of the FBI's history. Many of the experiences were either comical or enlightening in some form. Great book for thisee who have an interest in major actions of law enforcement, however the last fifty pages did get a little dry. ...more
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the history of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team (HRT). I read it during another time when I was testing for another tactical team, and found it full of insights regarding the requirements, training, and mindset of Operators.

This books a great look into the team that sets the bar for all local Police tactical teams.
Feb 27, 2010 rated it liked it
He was pretty impressed with himself and liked to talk about the awesome things he did. He talks about the awesome things he did a LOT. But he really did do some cool things so it is fun to read even through the self-glorification.
Apr 06, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Not an amazing non-fiction book, but a good reference book for anyone interested in the FBI or HRT. Additionally, its got a pretty good recounting of Ruby Ridge and Waco; events I was definitely not familiar with before reading this book.
Aug 15, 2012 rated it liked it
The first half of this book was superb, and really showed the nitty-gritty insides of the FBI. However, once the second half kicked in, it began to drag, and I lost interest in it almost completely. The second half wasn't bad, but I thought it simply wasn't necessary. Overall: good. ...more
Sep 03, 2015 rated it liked it
I FINALLY finished this book. It's a total dude book, so it was hard for me to get into, but my husband knows the author and was a part of HRT for a time so I wanted to understand that aspect of his life better.
If you're looking for a light, easy read, this is not your book.
Oct 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
well written...very interesting
Oct 14, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone intersted in FBI or Law Enforcement
Good, quick, exciting read.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History Of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, And Assassins
  • Hostage Zero (Jonathan Grave #2)
  • Typhoon Ace: The RAF Defence of Southern England (A Harry Rose Novel Book 3)
  • Fast Ice (NUMA Files #18)
  • Halo: The Fall of Reach
  • Firewall
  • High Treason (Johnathan Grave, #5)
  • No Mercy (Jonathan Grave, #1)
  • Sea Stories: My Life in Special Operations
  • Into the Stars (Rise of the Republic Book 1)
  • The Henna Artist (The Henna Artist, #1)
  • Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber
  • Bugsy Siegel: The Dark Side of the American Dream
  • The Killer Across the Table: Unlocking the Secrets of Serial Killers and Predators with the FBI's Original Mindhunter
  • Double Jeopardy (Stone Barrington #57)
  • The Swallows
  • The Alpha Enigma
  • The Winter Agent
See similar books…
His three books have been released by major publishers and well reviewed. You can find some details about him here:

News & Interviews

Oh hey, we're nearly halfway through 2021! We can't really believe it either... Traditionally, this is the time when the Goodreads editorial...
36 likes · 6 comments