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The Negotiator: My life at the heart of the hostage trade Hardcover – 21 Jul 2011
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a fascinating insight into a world that most of us would prefer did not exist -- Terry Waite Sunday Express
An extraordinary and unique memoir from an international hostage negotiator.See all Product description
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But in the real world there are some s***ty places where kidnaps happen, and you need to do a deal.
"Ben Lopez" has written a book about the negotiations involved. Some of it is sensible, some of it is just juicing up his qualification as a psychologist, and some of it is tripe.
Lopez is constantly taking flights to Karachi, Mexico City, Bogota, etc. He takes the red eye so often you'd think it was infectious. Why not just get a telephone forwarding service and sit in a nice office near the insurance company in London?
K&R (or K4R), kidnap and ransom, is good business, both for insurers and kidnappers. Less so for the kidnapped, of course, but the industry is seriously screwed if they rely on guys like this 6 foot 5 jock to do their negotiation. The red eye, the 22 hour days, the coffee and red bull, problem divorce, the drink problem...
My first response to a kidnap would probably be like anyone else's: get my child out of there as soon as possible, at any price!
But mature reflection leads me to some advice contrary to Lopez. So if I'm kidnapped:
1. It's a business transaction
2. There's only one seller, and only one buyer.
3. Keeping hostages is expensive, you need to pay guards, rent (or gasoline if it's a remote cave), etc.
4. Ideally there are multiple kidnapper negotiators, only one guy deciding about the ransom.
5. While I'm being held captive, others can't be. There's a limit to kidnapper resources.
6. Keep a clear head. Taking planes to Karachi is pointless. If you can, get your kidnappers to contact you only in office hours.
7. I will not be at my best at 3 a.m. when I'm hauled out of the cave to give a proof of life photo shoot.
8. Keep the per diem lower than the kidnappers'.
9. Don't pretend you've got a mercenary army on stand by.
10: Only one payer, the family. (Even if the company pays.)
11. Make it real. He's James, never the hostage, never the package. e.g. "James is worried about the effect on his family. Can you tell James that his family is Ok and that they are looking forward to seeing James again?"
12. Most kidnappers are amateurs compared to negotiators. (exception made for "ben lopez")
13. Be patient. I'm kidnapped. A safe house is by definition safe.
14. Practise the drop offs. Books or meds for the victim, messages (proof of life) from the victim.
Most kidnaps in s***ty places end up OK. The trick is to reduce the take for the kidnapper. With these simple rules you should be able to reduce the fee considerably. See rules 2 & 3 above.
Of course this is a biography rather than a guide, which nevertheless provides a genuine insight into Hostage Negotiation operations - the emphasis on the "negotiation" process rather than "door kicking".
I would describe the work as enthralling - equally as entertaining as any good work of fiction as the author is a natural story teller, drawing you into to his world whilst delivering a "warts and all" view of his profession through various vignettes .... the excitement, the tension and the pitfalls.
As per my header: "a true tale of a professional, enthralling as great fiction".
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