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We Want to Negotiate

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Member Reviews

We Want to Negotiate by Joel Simon is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late December.

Near or around the time that I chose to review this book, the journalist Jamal Khashoggi had been kidnapped and killed in Iraq, reportedly for writing liberal-minded articles with the New York Times and filing for divorce from his wife. Now, about 3-4 months after this occurrence, I decided to actually read this book and perhaps learn about what he may have knowingly gotten involved with or even been working alongside without foreseeing its hazards.

Simon interviews journalists who have survived being kidnapped (many of which now work as advocates for victims of crime and refugees), as well as their close family and coworkers (particularly that of Jim Foley), plus experts within law enforcement fields. It brings to light the torturous and arduousness of negotiations, the dangers of choosing to raid and extract, and the regulations of international law, like the Patriot Act. Terrorist groups, pirates, and guerrilla revolutionaries as targeting journalists, members of a ruling class family, and international civilian subcontractors and aid workers, and use kidnapping as a way of spreading propaganda while using less resources to create a broader visible impact and to request monetary ransom and/or the release of imprisoned compatriots. All told, it's somewhat of a political intrigue thriller to read, but bogged down by a little too much jargon.
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Haunting and thorough, We Want to Negotiate gives a full-bodied look at the issue of kidnapping, ransom, and the management of hostages.  This novel is incredibly well-written and researched, providing excellent narratives  and compelling stories that challenge to reader to face the sometimes harsh realities of this terribly complex issue.  Very, very well done.
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An interesting book on hostage-taking and negotiating. It shows the complexities involved from dealing with the government and their needs, the hostage and their family, and the terrorist cell and the terrorist organisation. I did find the book a bit jumpy at times. I'm not too keep on the book cover either as a personal preference. Overall a good short read.
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I thought this was a very interesting read. I have seen the high profile kidnappings on tv but there are many more than we realize. Joel goes into the stories behind some of the interesting kidnappings and what countries pay the ransom and what do not. How families have gotten involved and how kidnapped victims returned have gotten involved post-return. Well worth the read.
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So I hope to continue to regularly review books from Columbia Global Reports for you guys and We Want To Negotiate by Joel Simon is my second book up for review.

As I stated in my review in Bethany McClean’s Saudi America, I am absolutely in love with the format that Columbia Global Reports has adopted for presenting current events and nonfiction to it’s readers.  A little more about this in case you did not read my previous review or are not familiar with Columbia Global Reports:
Columbia Global Reports presents all of the titles in their catalog in short novella sized books.  Their goal is to make issues like politics, environmental science, social science, cultural anthropology more approachable and digestible by making all of their titles something you could read over the course of a few hours or a day.  They have authors writing on a wide range of topics and even offer a sort of subscription service where for set fee they will send you a title slightly ahead of it’s pub date for you to read each month.  None of the above information is sponsored I just really do think they are on to something.  They recognized that a huge readership was only getting important and relevant information from click bait non researched websites. They knew they would be able to sell a huge 500 page book on a subject but they could sell a incredibly well researched and sources cited nugget of a book on issues people want to know more about that are relevant right now.  I received this free review copy off of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  As stated before this is not sponsored even though I know I sound like a walking commercial for them (I am just that into nonfiction right now).
Review:We Want To Negotiate: The Secret World Of Kidnapping, Hostages and Ransom by Joel Simon is a terrifying and timely piece of journalism and I am not sure I ever want to travel out of the country after reading this book.  I say timely because we I am not sure if you all saw the headlines this past weekend about the Saudi journalist that went missing, he was found murdered in his own consulate in Turkey.  This book will make you much more aware of headline like these in today’s news. Aware and horrified.  We have as Americans all heard the words “The United States of America does not negotiate with terrorists!”  These words are always declared as a full stop, there is no gray area, and after 9/11 most people would never question them.  I never knew how complicated the world of negotiations are though behind these words and how differently The United States handles these complex and horrifying situations from other developed countries.  The main argument that author Joel Simon wants readers to consider while reading this book, is that while our ideals as Americans have not shifted since the days of Nixon and our solidifying non negotiations with terrorist organizations, the motivation behind taking terrorists and wanting to negotiate has shifted on the side of the terrorists.  Joel Simon while recognizing it is never good to financially fund a terror organization shows how terrorists would rather ransom not be paid so that hostages can be used for purposes of spreading terror instead of lining their pockets.
This book provides many real life accounts from not only hostage survivors but also from families who felt they were failed by the policies in place to deal with terrorist and hostage negotiations.  The situations of how different countries and terror organizations is also addressed thoroughly.  My only issue with this particular book was that it did jump around quite a bit both in time and location to draw comparisons and conclusions and that sometimes became confusing when trying to keep facts straight of to keep track of which event where being discussed.  I have a much easier time with books like these when it maintains a solid timeline otherwise I end up having to go back a reread whole parts. For this reason It took me a couple days to actually read this book to the point where I felt I had a solid grasp on all of the details, at least enough to write a proper review.  

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in how these types of operations work, including the cottage industry hostage insurance companies that have been created due to this complex issue with no real right answer.  This book is also a really great glimpse at the difference between our countries policies as compared to others.  I am not saying this book will change your mind about how you feel on this issue but it will definitely make you think about it.
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This was an interesting read. I didn't know anything about kidnapping and ransom prior to reading this book, so I found it quite informative, especially with how different countries react to kidnapping situations. At first, I thought that the book would address each nation's policy for kidnapping since he started with a focus on France and moved into Spain, but then he discussed a particular situation and the organization of the book no longer made sense. The writing was a bit dry and I found the flow to be choppy in some parts. The content was interesting, but I think the writing and editing could be better.
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I was curious about this book. Have you watched the TV Series "Ransom?" If you haven't, well, google it after you're done reading this because with that in mind, reading this was insightful. Over the years, I've watched on international news outlets calls for the release of  journalists or Aid workers who were kidnapped in turbulent areas and I never fully grasped the stress, anxiety, negotiations and trauma that surrounds it. 
In this book, the author explores the roles of governments and media houses in such cases and not all the stories have happy endings which ultimately broke my heart.
I liked how he presented the stories on both sides. Thanks for the eARC Netgalley, this book would be a great conversation on policies that affect international news coverage and politics whilst protecting reporters.
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