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Facing down Evil: Life on the Edge as an FBI Hostage Negotiator

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With more than twenty-five years of service in the FBI, Clint Van Zandt, one of the seminal figures in the formation of the FBI's Hostage Negotiation Program, has been party to such unsettling and high-profile conflicts as the Waco siege, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Unabomber case. His expertise-both as a crisis negotiator and as an FBI insider-has, since his retirement from the FBI, made him a fixture in the media; since his retirement from the FBI, he has been called upon more than three thousand times ...
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2006-09-07 Hardcover New New. Remainder mark; clean, tight, bright, with no tears, other marks, or highlighting. From The Civil War Book Shop-As close as your computer; as ... dependable as old Abe. Read more Show Less

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Overview

With more than twenty-five years of service in the FBI, Clint Van Zandt, one of the seminal figures in the formation of the FBI's Hostage Negotiation Program, has been party to such unsettling and high-profile conflicts as the Waco siege, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Unabomber case. His expertise-both as a crisis negotiator and as an FBI insider-has, since his retirement from the FBI, made him a fixture in the media; since his retirement from the FBI, he has been called upon more than three thousand times to provide insight and analysis when high-profile hostage situations arise. In Facing Down Evil Van Zandt recounts his most memorable cases-some televised in every living room across the country, and many others that took place beneath the radar of all but those individuals involved whose lives were permanently altered.

From blue-collar beginnings in the Midwest, Clinton Van Zandt fulfilled his childhood dream when he took an entry-level job in the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a clerk in J. Edgar Hoover's FBI, eventually playing a leading roll in the FBI's groundbreaking work in hostage negotiation. In the years that followed, Agent Van Zandt rose through the ranks, helping to form the FBI's Hostage rose through the ranks, helping to form the FBI's Hostage Negotiation and Behavioral Science Program, where he would encounter madmen like Timothy McVeigh, David Koresh, and Ted Kaczynski.

Van Zandt draws the reader into his private world of hostage negotiations, taking us inside the criminal mind, the impossibly high-stress situations, the ticking of the clock before SWAT is brought in, the art of calling a hostage-taker's bluff, and the despair over a botched operation or a nonnegotiable situation. It is both a gripping page-turner and a thoughtful examination of our nation's most powerful law enforcement agency through the eyes of someone on the front line of many of the FBI's most famous and infamous cases.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Van Zandt, an early FBI specialist in hostage negotiation, shuns the fireworks his fictional Hollywood counterparts can't seem to avoid, yet veteran ghostwriter Paisner (Citizen Koch) has successfully converted his reminiscences into a surprisingly entertaining series of anecdotes. Despite the absence of gunplay, these nuts-and-bolts descriptions of bank robberies, dramatic prison riots, grotesque scenarios in which the offender yearns to die and exotic hostage dramas in foreign lands make for gripping reading. A standout is 40 pages on the 1985 siege of the Covenant, an armed survivalist cult living on a heavily defended rural Arkansas farm. Few Americans remember the outcome: a hundred men, women and children peacefully surrendered. Van Zandt also relates his autobiography, beginning as a poor youth with divorced parents whose dream was to become a G-man, which required overcoming obstacles such as failing courses in college. He describes himself as a deeply religious born-again Christian who, unlike colleagues, never subordinated family to career but who loves the FBI and America and holds a low opinion of criminals, America's enemies and liberals. This turns out to be charming and does not diminish the value of his stories, which could appeal to readers not normally drawn to such macho adventures. (Sept. 7) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Triumphs and tragedies in the career of a former FBI agent who became one of the Bureau's first hostage-negotiation specialists. The author, who retired in 1995 after 25 years' service, ruminates on personal wins and losses as well as the evolution of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's policies and tactics as it moved into the era of terrorist threats under two different chiefs, J. Edgar Hoover and Louis Freeh. The initial chapters, covering Van Zandt's struggles as a college dropout trying to fulfill his lifelong ambition of becoming a federal agent, are less than riveting. And it may come as a disappointment to the reader that he decides to "leave to history" the disastrous 1993 confrontation with the Branch Davidians near Waco, Texas, without expanding on his personal involvement in it. He does, however, include part of the transcript of his many conversations with cult leader David Koresh and appears at one point to suggest that, had his team been allowed more time, the burning of the compound, which resulted in the deaths of women and children as well as Koresh, might have been avoided. He also suggests, quite brusquely, that because of his own Christian beliefs, the FBI was concerned that he might develop empathy with the Davidians. In summation, though, he backs away from direct claims. He does cover his participation, as a security consultant, in tracking down Theodore Kaczynski by comparing personal letters supplied by an attorney for Kaczynki's brother with a "manifesto" sent to newspapers by the so-called Unabomber. Another Van Zandt coup: suggesting to his former FBI associates that it was "a white male probably hung up on Waco" and not international terrorists (the FBI'sinitial target) behind the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Timothy McVeigh was later executed for it. A few exotic adventures, some tense moments, lots of redundant reflections.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399153082
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 9/7/2006
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.09 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2006

    This Book Takes You where Few Have Ever Gone!

    Although guns rule the west, Agent Van Zandt used his head to deal with some of the most significant cases in FBI history. You get to see inside of his home and family and how a hostage negotiator on the edge, as well as an FBI profiler, maintains the delicate balance between wife, children and the madness and death that also happens on his shift. He's honest and talks about his failures as well as mistakes - he makes you know him and takes you inside of hostage situations where decisions are made on gut calls and experience - life and death are everywhere yet he somehow keeps his head and his sense of humor. A remarkable combination, especially in the cases he worked. You learn not to fully trust the media reporting of such events and of the effort that goes unreported in these cases to save lives, both the good and the bad. I'm glad people like him were on our side.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2006

    A Real Book From A Real American Hero!

    This was an incredibly vivid page turner. It is so refreshing to see someone out there as honest and valid as Clint Van Zandt. Sometimes it is tempting to group the our government together as one great evil in itself and it is really hard to trust those who are supposed to be protecting us. Clinton Van Zandt is a genuine hero who fought his entire career to make America a better place and to protect and serve us all. I'm simply inspired. This is a must read. Micah I Palmer

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a reviewer

    This is a fascinating look from a different perspective of some of the major FBI incidents spanning a twenty-five year career that ended in retirement in 1995. Clint Van Zandt provides a little background material about his growing up and makes no apologies for being a family man who loves his country and his agency. However, the autobiography takes off with the specific incidents including some overseas especially the more famous ones like the 1985 siege of the Covenant, the 1993 Waco confrontation with the Branch Davidians, the Unabomber, and his paradigm suggestion that Oklahoma City was tied to Waco not the Middle East. This is an excellent autobiography of a dedicated law enforcement official who spent a career FACING DOWN EVIL as it is the behind the scenes look at these cases and more that will grip the audience.----------------- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2010

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