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Bomb Squad: A Year Inside the Nation's Most Exclusive Police Unit

Bomb Squad: A Year Inside the Nation's Most Exclusive Police Unit

4.1 6
by Richard Esposito, Ted Gerstein

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An unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the men who protect us from the most frightening prospect of life in the age of terrorism

"In my mind it's all business; I don't worry about my family, I don't worry about a function that I'm doing after work, I just worry about what's at hand. And what's at hand is that package." —Detective First Grade


An unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at the men who protect us from the most frightening prospect of life in the age of terrorism

"In my mind it's all business; I don't worry about my family, I don't worry about a function that I'm doing after work, I just worry about what's at hand. And what's at hand is that package." —Detective First Grade Joe Putkowski, NYPD Bomb Squad

The New York City Police Department Bomb Squad is the oldest such squad in the nation, founded in 1903. Each year its thirty-three members make more than two hundred stress-filled "bomb runs," in which they check suspicious briefcases, defuse hand grenades, and even respond to "art" projects constructed with real explosives. The public rarely sees these men—and when they do, it's usually from a distance, telephoto pictures of helmeted figures in ninety-pound suits of Kevlar armor.

Starting on December 31, 2003, in the heart of the New Year's Eve action in Times Square, journalists Richard Esposito and Ted Gerstein had exclusive access to the nation's most elite police unit for an entire year. Their often chilling, never-before-told tales from the front line provide an extraordinary view of the domestic war on terrorism.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Esposito and Gerstein, two ABC News journalists, spent 12 months on the job with members of the New York City Bomb Squad, beginning in Times Square on New Year's Eve 2003. They observed training, preparation and even live projects, albeit from a distance. What they produce is an intimate portrait of the 33 male technicians who have chosen this dangerous profession. These men are heroes, to be sure, but they are uninterested in seeing themselves that way. They are reticent, austere men, who approach the job of disarming bombs with a surgeon's focus. When asked how they chose this particular employment, they commonly answer, "Somebody has to do it." Esposito and Gerstein do not pass judgement on the force's efficacy or tackle the greater issue of terrorism. Rather they provide voice to these men and the lessons they can impart. In a particularly disquieting section, the authors detail the squad's role on 9/11, when squad member Claude Richards lost his life. The result of this exhaustive research is a dramatic, articulate examination of this important organization. In spite of the harrowing realities of post-9/11 America, the reader is left encouraged and inspired by the stories of these men, who consistently risk their lives to defend the country from further tragedy. (Mar). Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Hachette Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.12(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt


By Richard Esposito Ted Gerstein


Copyright © 2007 Richard Esposito and Ted Gerstein
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4013-0152-1

Chapter One

Who Are These Guys?


BOMB SQUAD JOB #001, 2004


Listening to the excited radio traffic, Kenny Dean and Paulie Perricone had heard enough. The two young techs had just finished up a security sweep. They notified Bomb Squad Base, tossed their gear back into their response truck, pointed it east, and headed out to Whitestone, Queens, under lights and siren. It appeared someone had rigged a homemade bomb to the undercarriage of a man's car. The new year had begun.

"We had done a marathon; worked the overnight on New Year's Eve into New Year's Day; started at three P.M., worked until seven A.M., and then began a day tour. The job came in at five minutes to two, just before we were scheduled to go off," said Perricone afterward. He and Dean, along with seven other newcomers, had joined the squad in February 2002. It had been a massive influx of new blood for such a small unit; a unit that had had less than 225 members in its first one hundred years. They had been rushed into place to bolster a squad depleted by a wave of post-9/11 retirements. "We were brand-new. On the way there I called my buddy working on Emergency Service that day, and he says to me, 'Paulie, you know that I open everything and I'm the last guy to call the Bomb Squad unnecessarily, but if I had to guess what a mercury switch looked like ... this would be it.' So we had a bit of pucker action on the way there.

"This was the first time. We were a little nervous, but Kenny and I were a little excited to have a real bomb. We shot over quick; I suited up Kenny quick- -and I wanted to have at least a picture in our hands before anybody showed up. Kenny went down and took an X-ray, and you could see a mercury switch, a battery, you could see what looked like a load. The can was packed.

"It was just as we were peeling open the X-ray that Sergeant Walsh arrived. I peeled it open and we were all 'Oh, shit, look at that.'"

The suspicious package was a Red Bull energy beverage can. The X-ray showed it was packed with match heads and attached to the car's gas line. Starting the car was supposed to trigger the switch and complete the circuit that ignited the match heads-a crude incendiary device designed to set fire to the car's fuel supply....


Excerpted from BOMB SQUAD by Richard Esposito Ted Gerstein Copyright © 2007 by Richard Esposito and Ted Gerstein. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Ted Koppel
What began as a 'Nightline' profile of the NYPD bomb squad by my former ABC News colleagues, Rich and Ted, has evolved into a revealing and compelling book. Imagine: a unit that has to defend New York City against threats real and imagined -- nut cases to professional terrorists, homemade bombs to weapons of mass destruction. Forget '24,' this is the real thing.
Kevin Barry
"For the men and women throughout the world who "render safe" infernal machines, Bomb Squad, is a truly accurate and realistic book."--(Det. First Grade Kevin Barry, NYPD Bomb Squad [Retired])

Meet the Author

Richard Esposito covers Homeland Security and Criminal Justice for ABC News. He is the winner of numerous national journalism awards, including the George Polk Award for Television Reporting for his reporting on the CIA. Ted Gerstein has worked for World News Tonight and Turning Point, and for the past ten years he has been a producer for Nightline. Together the authors have reported and produced numerous in-depth Nightline reports on national security issues. Both live in Manhattan.

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Bomb Squad: A Year Inside the Nation's Most Exclusive Police Unit 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has been a long while since I have been able to read an entire book while staying at least relatively interested. Bomb Squad by Richard Esposito and Ted Gerstein was a great read but it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. I was expecting to read a year within the NYPD Bomb squad but it was much more than that, maybe half of the book was the about the year inside the bomb squad and the other half was history, stories, and info about bombs. This book starts out with the bomb squad in Time square on December 31st, 2003 but as I found out it isn’t a straight line from there. The chapters jump around a lot to where you will be reading about the NYPD Bomb squad and then the next chapter is about bombs and what they are. The major message of this book is that Bomb squads everywhere, not only in new York, are here to protect and serve without fear and that this form of special law enforcement are always progressing to keep up with the ever-changing terrorism and terror devices. What I specifically enjoyed about this book was that the book is completely how bomb squads prevent and approach bombs; there is no specific plot or story that focuses on a specific act of heroism. This means that this book would be great for anyone interested in pursuing a career in this form of law enforcement or just any one interested in the topic of bomb squads. The only thing I didn’t like about the book was how much it jumped around; I did enjoy the chapters that strayed away from the Year inside the bomb squad but it did make it a little confusing. The writing style was different from chapter to chapter which should be expected since the book was written by two authors, it wasn’t a major difference in writing style but from what I read some chapters were a little more dole and used less imagery than others. Over all I give this book an 8/10 because it was a very interesting book but it did get marked down for the chapter jumping and the writing style. I would recommend this book to any one interested in going into the police force or anyone who is interested in bombs/terrorism.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While this book isn't bad by any means, it was definitely not what I was expecting.  The book is is fairly scattered, in the sense that it doesn't follow any set path, but rather it is split up into different sections that cover different topics.  Esposito and Gerstein cover many subjects in this book including: who the technicians are as individuals, the events they are needed at the most, their training, their equipment, the kinds of things they see on the job, the squads history, why they're so successful, and explicit details of the consequences of letting a bomb go unnoticed.  The major message of the book is basically that New York City will always be pretty safe from bombings as long as the squad exists.  There are few things that might get past the system they have set in place. Anyone interested in what it's like to be part of a police force should read this book, because it cuts past the glamour and the heroism, and details what this line of work is really like.  This book is written by two authors, and that is very apparent throughout the story.  One of the authors (I'm not sure which) writes with a very captivating style, but they are both reporters, and one of them treated the book like another news story.  So one chapter could be enthralling, and really put the reader in the life of the technicians, and the next becomes very dry and monotonous.  I liked the fact that the story really takes the reader through what it's like to be a part of the squad, and not someone looking in from the outside.  However, the book is a very dry read, and it became almost mind-numbing at times. Lastly, this book should probably not be made into a movie, mainly for security reasons.  The authors were very careful to avoid giving away any major secrets of the trade, and a movie would really present problems with this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A bomb book  T his book was a book that i could actually keep my eyes to.Most of the time when i read a book i am completely zoned out by the 3rd page. Not with this book because it wasn't something I would have expected, Richard and Ted (the authors) got access to follow around the NYPD for an entire year which is something that I think is awesome. This book overall made me feel like i could be whatever I wwanted to be in my life because of some of the stories these men told them. I would highly recommend this book.  Block 1
jb4 More than 1 year ago
Bomb Squad: A Year Inside the Nation’s Most Exclusive Police Unit by Richard Esposito and Ted Gerstein gives an excellent overview of New York City’s bomb squad. This book shows how the squad operates and goes in depth on its missions and procedures. This book also gives an excellent overview of the squad’s history. It discusses everything from the beginnings of the squad to the latest technology the squad possesses. It gives very good accounts of past bombing accounts large and small. It also contains lots of information about the various groups that plagued New York with bombs, including FALN and the Black Hand. However this book not only has descriptions of bombs that went off in the states, it also has a comprehensive list of bombing catastrophes form around the world. The research was excellently done and presented well. The information was very thorough and comprehensive. I used the information that this book had to do an ethnography on the lives of bomb squad members. This book was very helpful for me and gave me great information. My only complaint with this book was that it jumped around too much. Each chapter described a scene from a different time period so it was a little confusing. For example chapter 6 discusses a day in 2004, but chapter 7 talks about a bomb that went off in 1975. So it didn’t read like a normal book. But other than that this was a great informative book. I would recommend this book if you want to learn more about the bomb squad and its past, but if you want a story this wouldn’t be the book for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Very interesting, kept me wanting more.