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Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator
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Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  2,998 ratings  ·  267 reviews
An enraged man abducts his estranged wife and child, holes up in a secluded mountain cabin, threatening to kill them both. A right wing survivalist amasses a cache of weapons and resists calls to surrender. A drug trafficker barricades himself and his family in a railroad car, and begins shooting. A cult leader in Waco, Texas faces the FBI in an armed stand-off that leaves ...more
Hardcover, 226 pages
Published September 21st 2010 by Random House (first published January 1st 2007)
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 ·  2,998 ratings  ·  267 reviews

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jv poore
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
What an extraordinary book! Mr. Noesner was involved in some very high-profile incidents, such as Ruby Ridge, Waco, as well as the Washington DC sniper crisis that those of us on the East Coast remember well. In addition, he was instrumental in the creation of the negotiation team in the FBI, training, drafting and revising policies and procedures, as well as acting in the capaciy of a negotiator whenever and wherever needed.

This is a man that, in my opinion, has a right to be arrogant; however,
Dave Cullen
Sep 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was only the second book I've ever blurbed. I was very impressed. My review:

This was such a rewarding book. I've always been fascinated by that very basic question: when someone is disturbed and irrational enough to actually pick up a gun and take hostages, how on earth do you talk him down?

What was most startling to me was that until very recently in human history--a few decades ago--we didn't know.

The more I learned, the hungrier I got to learn more. How interesting that so much of it amo
Chris Steeden
Gary Noesner

Friends and colleagues urged Gary Noesner (pronounced Nes-ner) to write a book on his hostage / crisis negotiator experiences ‘to share the lessons I learned over years of convincing people to put down their weapons and surrender peacefully’. He believes ‘that the skills discussed in this book can help anyone to become better person, a more engaged spouse, a more attentive parent, a better friend, and a more effective leader’. Quite a claim. OK Gary, I am all ears.

The first case he writes about
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars! Stalling for time was a fascinating account of many standoffs throughout Noesner's career as an FBI Negotiator. Some of the problems in his role were conflicts among different factions dealing with these standoffs that resulted in tragedy, such as Ruby Ridge and Waco. Noesner shared many success stories he had by negotiating and talking, rather than violently stomping in, which seemed to have poor results. His communication skills are admirable and seem not only applicable to hostage ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is interesting for what it is--a first hand account of a bunch of hostage crises--what the FBI did and didn't do. But it's not much more beyond that. For example, it doesn't really coalesce lessons learned that should be applied to other circumstances (though there are some). Noesner begins and ends the book describing situations where men killed others or took hostages because they couldn't get what they wanted from women. Seems like this whole industry is about managing male egos from ...more
Mar 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I felt like this book was well written, personal, and engaging. It gave me insight into the difficulties and practices of negotiation, and a LOT to think about. The author seemed like someone who genuinely cares about his job, the people, and a positive outcome, and I respected his honesty throughout the book.
Sep 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting topic but boring execution. I understand why this is written like a case report, but the amount of procedural details included somehow managed to remove all the suspense from a topic as riveting as hostage negotiation. I think I just expected something different and didn’t have the patience this book requires. Perhaps it’s worth a re-read at a different time.

See more of my reviews: Blog // Instagram
Jan 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was so good. After reading Columbine, I wanted a lighter read (so naturally, I reach for hostage negotiations...really, self?). I read a chapter at lunch every day, and let me tell you, it was difficult to put it down.

Noesner's style is fantastic and made his stories compelling. It reads like a narrative and is written in a conversational, engaging manner. For the most part, it read in chronological order of his career and each chapter focused on an incident.

I was born in 1991, so I ba
Nov 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read but much of it felt more like a resumé than an exciting page turner about the different situations he encountered over his 30+ years in the field.
I felt at times (or maybe for about 90% of the book....), like he was trying to convince me that negotiators are just as important as tactical teams. I get it Gary, your job is important... I’m just engaging in some lite reading for the thrill of an intense hostage situation! Cut me some slack!
Oh and the epilogue!! A lecture about
Tess Taylor
5- Gary Noesner is one of the godfathers of hostage negotiation. Through a mix of brilliant psychology and detective work, he and his colleagues invented this important technique, which is practiced in police forces and federal bureaus across the country today. This book spans Noesner's career in the FBI, highlighting some of the most riveting hostage investigations in US history through his first-hand accounts as a negotiator and advisor.

I listened to the audiobook version of Stalling for Time
Jul 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-books
Couldn’t put it down!

Reading about well known standoffs from the guy behind the scenes was very intriguing. As with government agency, there will be different viewpoints and unfortunately these differing points of view were costly in Ruby Ridge and Waco. Ruby Ridge and Waco were well known events as we watched them unfold on television. Reading what happened behind the scenes was very eye opening. The other stories, though lesser known to me, were just as captivating. The idea that words matter,
Mattie Vandiver
The writing in this book isn’t great, but I appreciated reading Noesner’s experiences. I mostly read this to read his comments about Waco and compare it to the recent dramatic documentary on Netflix, so I enjoyed hearing the actual story.
Jul 23, 2018 rated it liked it
After watching the recent Waco miniseries, I became more interested in hostage negotiation and Gary Noesner, a lead hostage negotiator for the FBI. I come away from this book with a greater appreciation for the role negotiators play in solving some situations and with interest in learning more about some of the cases mentioned. The details on when and why in the process to offer some concessions to the hostage taker(s) was especially interesting. As it is written by a negotiator, the bias toward ...more
Alain Burrese
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading an advanced review copy of "Stalling For Time: My Life As An FBI Hostage Negotiator" by Gary Noesner, and I found it to be an engaging, interesting, and enlightening read. I didn't want to put it down. Noesner, who spent 30 years in the FBI and retired as the chief of the FBI's Crisis Negotiation Unit shares some of his fascinating stories along with his beliefs regarding hostage negotiations. It is very well written, in a comfortable engaging manner, and through the stor ...more
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: social-issues, misc
Waco, Texas: Who can forget that? Gary Noesner was a negotiator at that disastrous event.

Few things can be more chancy than negotiating when hostages are involved. The situation is intense, people are scared and confused, the atmosphere is primed for explosion, and plenty of things can set off a tragic ending. Sometimes, everything works out to a happy conclusion. Sometimes, not.

In such an event, there is great pressure by the authorities to conclude things quickly. A police or FBI presence will
The author's explanation of how the relationship between negotiators and SWAT teams can be difficult: "It's much easier to go tactical after failed negotiations than to negotiate after failed tactics. I know of at least one case in which a police marksman missed when he took a shot at a barricaded perpetrator. It was then a major challenge for the negotiators to try to convince the subject that the authorities were really there to help and didn't want to do him harm."

The author worked for the FB
Aug 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I highly recommend this book. I don't understand why a person would read fiction when there are so many amazing and true stories in this world.

I was absolutely hooked in the first few pages.

One star was deducted because the chip in the author's shoulder does get awkwardly in the way sometimes. There is a lot of tension between the tactical team and the negotiating team in the author's point of view; all failures are the fault of the tactical team. This becomes tedious to read.

Finally, several o
Jul 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, favorites, nonfic, cops
For nonfiction, this was actually really absorbing; I read it cover to cover. The book was informative without being dry, and the little bits of insight into huge events (Waco) were really enlightening. You pick up rather easily that Noesner really was dedicated to his job, and that makes it more appealing to read.
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
I first learned about this book when Michael Shannon, who plays Gary Noesner in the new TV mini-series "Waco", appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He described Noesner and this book, and I knew I wanted to read it.

The book is intense--too intense in one particular chapter (chapter 5) that still haunts me--and eye-opening. I love the perspective and hearing Noesner's personal insight/opinions about how things could have turned out differently in various cases. Learning about Waco was
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Found this an excellent read after watching the series Waco. He’s definitely an FBI man through and through, so you have to take his words with that bias in mind, however I found the majority of his views and stories fair. Riveting to hear all his experiences, read it very quickly.
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good book! I particularly enjoyed his experiences with Ruby Ridge and Waco.
Sovida Tran
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're looking for a step by step walkthrough on how to do negotiations, this isn't going to be the book for you. However, if you're looking for a behind the scenes development of what is now the premier high risk negotiation program, with it's bumps along the way, you'll enjoy this. I particularly appreciated his professional detachment in describing the interactions with other professionals, even when you know in the moment his emotions must have been high.
Jason Mooney
Aug 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great read

Stalling for Time tells the compelling stories and lessons learned from the author’s work in the FBI as a hostage negotiator. The stories are concise yet detailed and offer a look into the decision making process of law enforcement as they attempted to manage these crises.
Tillie H
Aug 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
What a fascinating book! After I watched Waco I really wanted to read this book to get more into Gary Noesner's POV. The history of the negotiation branch of the FBI is fascinating and Noesner does a brilliant job detailing the politics of the job along with the crazy experiences he dealt with while working there! A great, informative read!
Jordan Larsen
When extreme situations reach the boiling point of no return there is an elite few whose words of compassion and reason can make the difference between life and death. Enter the world of the Hostage Negotiator, attached to Police SWAT and Federal agencies, these courageous and determined men and women utilize intelligence, understanding and the powers of persuasion to defuse some of the most dire situations America’s Finest can encounter. That’s the premise behind the gripping memoir “Stalling f ...more
Gayle Francis Moffet
May 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An in-depth look at the history of the FBI negotiation standards, told by Gary Noesner, who entered the negotiation program only a few years after its creation in the early 1970s. Noesner, as is common with non-fiction of this nature, worked many well-known cases and advanced to the very top of the field amongst his colleagues at the FBI. He's a man who loves his work and genuinely wants to help. Each chapter tackles either a particular case he worked or explains some of his background, training ...more
Jan 16, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written, interesting first-hand account by Noesner of his involvement in events such as those at Waco, Ruby Ridge, and Missoula, along with some other lesser publicly known (and perhaps more successful from a negotiation perspective, making them less shock-news value, therefore less publicized) cases.

The critical response teams have evolved and changed their ways through time and often painful experience, along with Noesner's direction and input. It's surprising when you hear about the poor
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
So I can't mark this book as read b/c I gave up about 40 pages in. This writer is so full of himself and always has to work in the ways he was awesome to every story that I just couldn't listen to him. Of course we know you think you are awesome -- you wrote a book about yourself. So stick to the facts more and tell a story. Disappointing.
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've always been curious about hostage negotiation, and this book intrigued me from start to finish. It's not all action-packed - the FBI is, after all, a bureaucracy, and the politics of the organisation can be as frustrating as the bull-headed demands of the hostage takers. But it's a great book, a personal account of one of the top people in the field, and well worth a read.
Edmond Gagnon
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a very good book that gives you the real behind the scenes story about events like the Waco standoff and not the crap that you read in the papers. Noesner writes and tells his life story well. I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes true crime.
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