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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

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  1,535 ratings  ·  154 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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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
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.
Horace Derwent
Feb 17, 2018 marked it as to-read
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
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
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
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
May 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: misc, social-issues
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
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 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good book! I particularly enjoyed his experiences with Ruby Ridge and Waco.
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 diffuse some of the most dire situations America’s Finest can encounter. That’s the premise behind the gripping memoir “Stalling ...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
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.
Jul 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime, favorites, cops, nonfic
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.
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.
Apr 12, 2011 rated it liked it
A fascinating read. Gary participated in some of the most famous/infamous FBI hostage situations.
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the memoir of an FBI hostage negotiator. The author Gary Nosener wasn’t just a FBI hostage negotiator; he was one of the leading men in his craft that shaped how the FBI handle hostage negotiations and across the country with his training, instruction and conferences for various law enforcement agencies both local, states and federal. Noesner was also instrumental in setting a national standard and guideline for hostage negotiations. Nosener writing this book is quite insightful given hi ...more
Dee Arr
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Interesting, Balanced Account of a Hostage Negotiator's Career

Crisis Negotiation is a fairly new tool for law enforcement, and this book is a fascinating read. Gary Noesner was instrumental in the development of the most effective tools to use when crises arise.

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 t
Dec 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I appreciated the unique perspective given by the author, Gary Noesner, on his experiences within the FBI, specifically in high profile sieges and hostage negotiations. To me, though, the importance of this book can be found in the epilogue. Noesner summarizes his book well by stating that, more or less, just because the government has the ability to use the hammer doesn't mean it is always appropriate or necessary. The hammer can, and has, led to more destructive results than the intended outco ...more
Oct 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm a sucker for books that specifically profile lives and careers that are different, exciting or dangerous. This was a great example. Gary Noesner is an ex-FBI Negotiator who was very active in developing the system that the FBI now use for hostage negotiation. The book details some very public cases such as The siege at Waco, Ruby Ridge and The Freemen in Montana.

One thing that surprised me about this b0ok was the author's telling of the siege at Waco. I remember this very well and was alway
Dec 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-own
I picked this book up after watching the "Waco" tv miniseries. At first I was disappoint that this book wasn't completely about Waco, but once I started reading my mind was changed. This book is about Mr. Noesner's many experiences with siege/hostage situations over his lengthy career as a negotiator with the F.B.I.
Each chapter is about a particular situation but the thread travels chapter to chapter throughout the book about the importance of negotiation in resolving these situations and how
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Insights into events like Waco that I never knew about, plus repeated affirmation that using tactical force as a first resort is a stupid idea. (America? did you catch that? at any point in the last 20 years?) Also, even though this was written in 2010, I listened to the audiobook, which was produced in 2018... so... there was a lovely, subtle aside in the epilogue about how America *was* doing better about valuing negotiation and diplomacy, even when we inexplicably chose to use military person ...more
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
This book was absolutely fascinating. It is one of the non-fiction, perhaps the only nonfiction, I've read that I was sorry when it ended just like I would feel with a good novel. Very interesting as there were many situations he was involved with or discussed that were in the news like Waco etc. It really gave a very interesting perspective and changed how I view hostage and siege situations and how they are handled. People from the media would do well to read this book and those who are critic ...more
Sep 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating stuff. Has a pretty thorough overview of Waco and a few other incidents. The descriptions are detailed and seem authentic enough. It's not a manual, but gives plenty to think about in the communication field. It's surprising how critical the author is of crisis response and how much confusion and mismanagement exists on the scene, and how this has developed in the past 30 years. Noesner has undoubtedly had a big role in these improvements, but in the end it seemed a bit unlikely
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