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Bullets, Bombs, and Fast Talk: Twenty-five Years of FBI War Stories
     

Bullets, Bombs, and Fast Talk: Twenty-five Years of FBI War Stories

by James Botting
 

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A desperate gunman holds a planeload of innocent passengers hostage. A heavily armed cult leader refuses to leave his compound, threatening mass suicide by a hundred of his brainwashed followers. A neo-Nazi militant in a cabin hideout keeps federal agents at bay with gunfire. A baby disappears; his only trace is an ominous ransom call to his parents. Prisoners

Overview


A desperate gunman holds a planeload of innocent passengers hostage. A heavily armed cult leader refuses to leave his compound, threatening mass suicide by a hundred of his brainwashed followers. A neo-Nazi militant in a cabin hideout keeps federal agents at bay with gunfire. A baby disappears; his only trace is an ominous ransom call to his parents. Prisoners riot, threatening the lives of prison officers and hundreds of other inmates. How do you react? What do you do? What do you say? Your words, your actions can save lives—or lose them. James Botting faced these challenges and daily pressures during a fascinating and demanding twenty-five-year career as an FBI hostage negotiator. He found himself involved—sometimes peripherally, more often personally—in many of the FBI’s most famous events since the 1970s. From Ruby Ridge to Waco, Patty Hearst to Rodney King, and Wounded Knee to TWA 847, Botting was there and on the spot. Along the way hostage negotiation techniques evolved, changing from play-it-by-ear and shoot-from-the-hip to a carefully choreographed psychological game of life and death. Botting was involved every step of the way. In Bullets, Bombs, and Fast Talk: Twenty-five Years of FBI War Stories, Botting vividly describes these events and more as only a participant can. He reviews the successes and the times the FBI fell short. He chillingly recounts a number of times when death seemed inevitable, only to come through unscathed. Botting pulls no punches with this gritty, detailed, and often humorous insider’s account of life at the end of a gun as an FBI hostage negotiator.

Editorial Reviews

Bill Gore

“Jim Botting brings a unique perspective, having served both as a SWAT member and crisis negotiator. His experiences include some of the most high-profile events the Bureau has encountered in recent history and he paints a realistic, insightful, and at times, humorous picture of the FBI. With his comfortable style, Jim makes you feel as though you have met many of the people on its pages. Jim has artfully managed to take away some of the mystery that still unfairly haunts the FBI.”—Bill Gore, former FBI SAC and current undersheriff of San Diego County
Grant Ashley

“In my almost twenty-nine years with the FBI, Jim Botting was clearly in the class of the best Agents I ever worked with or around. Bullets, Bombs and Fast Talk provides a unique insight into FBI major cases and the occasional incidents of law enforcement politics, and leaves the reader with a sense of why being an FBI Special Agent is the best job on the planet.”—Grant Ashley, former executive assistant director, Law Enforcement Services and Investigation, FBI
Frederick J. Lanceley

“Reading Bullets, Bombs, and Fast Talk brought back many memories from early in my own career. In the middle of one exciting case another new agent turned to me and said, ‘You know, this is so cool that I would pay the FBI to do this!’ Botting’s book resounds with this same career-long enthusiasm for the job. He tells a story that only an FBI Special Agent could tell with sincerity and honesty, warts and all.”—Frederick J. Lanceley, former supervisory special agent in the Special Operations and Research Unit, FBI Academy, and author of On Scene Guide for Crisis Negotiators
Bruce Sokolove

"Jim Botting provides an extraordinary front-row seat to some of the most riveting FBI incidents from his twenty-five years. From the Bureau’s alphabet soup of CIRGs and HRTs to an eclectic cast of characters, crooks, and crazies, Jim takes us along for a wild ride. It’s a dizzying account guaranteed to leave the reader exhausted."—Bruce Sokolove, former undersheriff for the Washtenaw County, Michigan, sheriff's department
Edmund McGarrell

"Jim Botting provides a vivid account of some of the most high-profile incidents of the late twentieth century. This book will appeal to a wide audience with interests in crime and justice and can serve as a thought-provoking supplement for students of law enforcement."—Edmund McGarrell, director and professor, School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University
From the Publisher
"General-interest libraries will find [this book] a vivid set of recollections perfect for any interested in real-world experiences."

"Botting's insider view of FBI operations ...is intrinsically interesting, and he brings added value through his own on-the-scene observations. Readers into guns and real crime drama with a sprinkling of black humor will like Botting and the stories he has to tell."

"First-person, you-are-there law-enforcement adventure saga by a male agent who wielded guns, solved crimes and sometimes saved lives.

Botting joined the FBI in 1971 after earning advanced college degrees, serving in Vietnam and working as an investigator for the U.S. Treasury Department. With that background, he was well prepared for dicey situations, but poorly prepared for the racial tensions that simmered in Mississippi, site of Botting's first FBI posting. "Y'all just don't understand. You're a goddamn Yankee, boy," the Michigan-born author heard constantly that first year; only a transfer to the Los Angeles office kept him from quitting. (He remained with the Bureau until 1995.) Placed in the Violent Crimes and Major Offenders unit, Botting was near the center of action at episode after episode that made headlines. Those cases included the pursuit of heiress Patty Hearst after her abduction by the Symbionese Liberation Army; the standoff with Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, Idaho; the murderous debacle in Waco, Texas, that resulted in the deaths of David Koresh and many of his blindly loyal Branch Davidian followers; plus dozens more. Occasionally, Botting provides an education in handling the stresses of high-stakes police work, as when he explains why it's significant when a ransom note doesn't arrive after a confirmed kidnapping. More frequently, he offers little education but plenty of titillation. A conscious and careful stylist—unlike many law-enforcement agents who become authors—Botting knows when to inject humor, however dark, into a grim account. He doesn't provide much documentation for his exploits, but he exudes credibility—at least between the covers of the book.

Vivid presentation of stories so dramatic that they fully justify the old saw that truth is stranger than fiction."

“Jim Botting brings a unique perspective, having served both as a SWAT member and crisis negotiator. His experiences include some of the most high-profile events the Bureau has encountered in recent history and he paints a realistic, insightful, and at times, humorous picture of the FBI. With his comfortable style, Jim makes you feel as though you have met many of the people on its pages. Jim has artfully managed to take away some of the mystery that still unfairly haunts the FBI.”

“In my almost twenty-nine years with the FBI, Jim Botting was clearly in the class of the best Agents I ever worked with or around. Bullets, Bombs and Fast Talk provides a unique insight into FBI major cases and the occasional incidents of law enforcement politics, and leaves the reader with a sense of why being an FBI Special Agent is the best job on the planet.”

“Reading Bullets, Bombs, and Fast Talk brought back many memories from early in my own career. In the middle of one exciting case another new agent turned to me and said, ‘You know, this is so cool that I would pay the FBI to do this!’ Botting’s book resounds with this same career-long enthusiasm for the job. He tells a story that only an FBI Special Agent could tell with sincerity and honesty, warts and all.”

"Jim Botting provides an extraordinary front-row seat to some of the most riveting FBI incidents from his twenty-five years. From the Bureau’s alphabet soup of CIRGs and HRTs to an eclectic cast of characters, crooks, and crazies, Jim takes us along for a wild ride. It’s a dizzying account guaranteed to leave the reader exhausted."

“Jim Botting provides a vivid account of some of the most high-profile incidents of the late twentieth century. This book will appeal to a wide audience with interests in crime and justice and can serve as a thought-provoking supplement for students of law enforcement.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781597972444
Publisher:
Potomac Books
Publication date:
10/31/2008
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

BULLETS, BOMBS AND FAST TALK

TWENTY-FIVE YEARS OF FBI WAR STORIES
By James Botting

Potomac Books, Inc.

Copyright © 2008 Potomac Books, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-59797-244-4


Chapter One

"JUST A GODDAMN YANKEE"

It was 1971, one of those miserable, humid, Mississippi days in August when the mosquitoes get up early and the sweat trickles down the middle of your back before you even pull out of the driveway in the morning. I was a rookie FBI agent assigned to the Resident Agency in Oxford, in the northwestern part of the state. A fellow agent, Ken Hughes, and I were sitting in the kitchen of the county sheriff's office discussing our plans for the day. In this county, you stopped by the sheriff's office to say hello and tell him what you were planning to do. That's the way it was in Mississippi back then even if you were the FBI. You didn't mess with the county sheriff.

The sheriff offered us breakfast, but I could never eat anything in a jail thinking about what the trustees in the kitchen could put in it. And the smell of burned bacon was starting to make me nauseous. Every sheriff's office in Mississippi always smelled like burned bacon.

As a huge black trustee with ripples in the back of his neck brought us a second cup of coffee, the sheriff turned to Ken. He was short and muscular, about as wide as he was tall, and when he shook your hand he stared you in the eye and squeezed it like he was trying to force blood out of your eyes. If you relaxed your grip he'd laugh and clamp on tighter.

"Ah, Ken, we got us a prisoner out back I'd like you to help us interview."

Ken eyed the sheriff cautiously, "Oh yeah?"

"Yeah, he says he's a traveling preacher man, but, ah, we don't think so 'cause he's got a shit load of them girlie books in the trunk of his car."

We all laughed.

"When did you pick him up?"

"'Bout a week ago," the sheriff said. "Passed out drunk in his car in the back parking lot of the Jitney Jungle." The Jitney Jungle was a local grocery chain primarily patronized by blacks. "Now what the hell would a cracker like him be doing over there?"

A week ago? He hadn't been interviewed or charged with a crime or even gone to court yet? My Mississippi education was beginning.

"What'd you arrest him for?"

The sheriff grinned and hesitated. Then after a few seconds, he snorted. "J.D.L.R."

Both he and Ken laughed. Ken looked at me, "Know what he means?"

I racked my brain trying to remember my legal training in the FBI Academy but was embarrassed to admit that I couldn't recall. I shook my head, trying not to feel stupid.

They both laughed again.

"Another goddamn Yankee, Ken," the sheriff said, looking at me and shaking his head. "At least he ain't a Jew boy from New York like the last one you brought around." He grinned at me, pleased with himself. Years of chewing Red Man had done its job and he needed some serious dental work. His breath could have started a fire.

"J.D.L.R.," he chuckled again. He looked from Ken to me with small blue pig eyes rimmed in red. I suspected he could be meaner than a snake.

"Okay, what's 'J.D.L.R.'?"

He hesitated, looked over at Ken and then back at me, and suddenly spit it out.

"Jes' Doan' Look Right."

We all laughed, although I couldn't believe his prisoner had been in the county jail for a week just because he didn't "look right." After Ken and I stopped laughing, we waited for a while for the sheriff to stop.

For several minutes, the sheriff tried to convince Ken that the prisoner had probably transported pornography interstate, which would be a federal crime and could justify the FBI getting involved. But Ken was wary of becoming involved in local jurisdiction cases, especially those with questionable arrests, interrogations, and searches. He politely but firmly refused to get involved and the sheriff finally relented.

"Okay, what the hell, then we'll just charge him with disorderly conduct or somethin'," he said. "Get the judge in here, Leonard," he called to the trustee. "We'll throw his perverted ass outta the county."

With that Leonard walked out to the front porch of the office and woke up a wizened old man in bib overalls sleeping in a rocker under a tired sign that read "Sheriff's Office." With caution and obvious respect, the huge black trustee awakened the Justice of the Peace gently and spoke a few words to him. The old man opened his eyes, focused his vision, straightened his hat, and began to slide out of the rocker. With great effort but refusing assistance from the trustee, he stood erect, gradually turned around, and shuffled into the office.

Leonard set up the courtroom. He spun a large desk around in the hallway, pushed an upright chair with a pillow on the seat behind the desk, placed a Mississippi flag on one side, and an American flag on the other. With a flair suggesting that he had done this before, he produced a gavel from inside the desk and wiped it off on his striped pants. At the conclusion of these preparations, he ushered the judge into his seat. Ken and I took our seats in the front row of the courtroom by turning our chairs around in the kitchen.

The sheriff then treated the judge to a detailed briefing of the prisoner, the crime, and the investigation, all of which lasted about a minute. The judge nodded, rubbed each eye methodically for several minutes, readjusted his glasses, and assumed a regal bearing.

"Bring me the prisoner."

A few minutes later, Leonard returned with a disheveled white guy about forty-five years old, alcoholic-skinny, wearing green Sears work pants, a dirty white t-shirt, five or six days of beard, and shoes with no laces. He was handcuffed with his hands in front and he shuffled in the shoes to keep them on. He was a classic Joe Shit the Ragman, the kind of drunk that opens the bar at eight in the morning, drinks draft beer and double shots of Wild Turkey, and sleeps in the back seat of his car three or four nights a week. Just this side of homeless. He looked like he'd had been arrested about twice a week since he was fifteen and as guilty as homemade sin. He oozed a life as wasted and used up as an old mattress lying alongside the freeway.

Leonard marched him up in front of the judge and stood behind him. The judge spoke.

"All right now, boy, I understand you been up to no good around here. The sheriff has advised me that you been peddling them girlie books and smut to the children of this here fine county, pervertin' their young minds. Your kind is what's wrong with America. Now we're also sick and tired of you stinkin' up our county jail."

The guy stood there, weaving back and forth.

"So we're going to offer you a deal, son. You can plead guilty to disorderly conduct right here and now, and your plea will be accepted by the court. Most likely you will be sentenced to five days in the county jail, which you done now, and so, of course, we'd be giving you credit for your time served. A stipulation of your plea will be that you will be required to leave the county. Forthwith!" The judge seemed to enjoy the sound and legality of "Forthwith."

"Now, of course, if you ain't interested in this here deal, which I personally consider to be very magnanimous on my part, you can plead not guilty, in which case you will be returned to your cell here to wait for the arrival of the circuit judge, who will conduct a trial. Now it's incumbent upon me to advise you that the circuit judge, ah, he comes by 'bout every month or two, and he come by just last week, so now it may be a while."

Joe Shit the Ragman tried to focus on the judge. The mental fog created in a Mississippi county jail was beginning to clear. I noticed that he had brought an aroma into the room that made my eyes burn and felt like something infectious that was going to stick to my clothes.

"What's it gonna be, boy?" The judge sounded aggravated having to wait for an answer.

At this point, the sheriff jumped in. "Judge, I do believe this dumb shit is too goddamn stupid to understand the gift you're offering to him. What's the matter with you, boy?" He moved towards him and I thought for sure he was going to slap him upside the head.

The prisoner finally spoke. "I'll take the deal."

"You guilty now, right, boy?" asked the sheriff, suddenly sounding like he needed to be convinced.

"Yeah, I guess so." he muttered. It was the shortest confession I was to hear in my entire career.

Bam! The judge slammed his gavel down on the desk.

"Guilty of disorderly conduct. The court accepts the defendant's plea. Five days custody, time served. And you are hereby ordered to depart the county. Forthwith!" The fourteen dollars in the prisoner's brown paper bag held by Leonard would be used to pay "court costs."

The sheriff smiled at Ken and me as if he had just solved the crime of the century.

Leonard escorted the prisoner down the hall and sent him out the door. My guess is he hustled out of the county without once looking over his shoulder or worrying about who now had possession of his "girlie books."

I couldn't believe what I had just seen. Mississippi justice. This was the Twilight Zone. It was 1971 and J. Edgar Hoover had sentenced me to a year in Mississippi. Having been born and raised in Michigan, I wasn't a Southerner. I was "nothin' but a goddamn Yankee."

"Y'all just don't understand. You're a goddamn Yankee, boy." I was to hear it a hundred times that year. Rarely used to embarrass, it was more often used to explain why I just didn't understand the Mississippi interpretation of racial issues. Race permeated everything in Mississippi from police brutality to discrimination in housing, from voter fraud to indentured servants, from segregated schools to white and black drinking fountains, and to Ku Klux Klansmen.

It was another year before I was able to escape to Los Angeles, but the Mississippi memories would be seared into my personal history forever.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from BULLETS, BOMBS AND FAST TALK by James Botting Copyright © 2008 by Potomac Books, Inc.. 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.

Meet the Author

James Botting served in the FBI for twenty-five years, sixteen as a crisis/hostage negotiator. He served as the team leader of the FBI’s Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) from 1981 to 1995 and a supervisory member of its international Critical Incident Negotiation Team since its inception in 1985 until his retirement. He has personally negotiated numerous hostage/barricade incidents and responded to several high-profile events. He lives in California.

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