The Negotiator Magazine

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Reader’s Review

John Baker

Negotiate and Win: Proven Strategies From the NYPD’s Top Hostage Negotiator
By Dominick J. Misino with Jim DeFelice
185pp. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004
Hardcover Edition: (US) $19.50

Dominick Misino is retired from the New York Police Department in which he served as a principal hostage negotiator for many years. In 1993, he won international fame as the principal negotiator who convinced the hijacker of Lufthansa Flight 592 to give-up his plans and allow the plane to land safely at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City. Misino is credited with convincing the hijacker to surrender peacefully and securing the safe release of the 104 passengers and crew on the airplane.

This book moves well beyond this single incident to present the negotiating lessons Misino learned in his long career as a police negotiator. What, after all, are the common practices that might be applied successfully to negotiating with individuals standing high on bridge abutments in the night or armed men holding frightened family members behind closed doors as well as to robbers trapped in a store that is surrounded by police officers? What of this can be transferred effectively to more normal negotiating situations such as buying a car or buying a house? Basic negotiating principles work, the author asserts, and proceeds to make his case for his method.

Mr. Misino is clearly a talented negotiator who recounts his experiences with intriguing anecdotes and more than a bit of humor. The style of his work is that of a talented raconteur who loves his topic dearly and has launched upon a favorite discourse. So what can we learn here?

First, we can learn a great deal about the art of crisis negotiation and its hostage negotiation specialty. In fact, readers will find it comforting, I believe, to discover how carefully planned and structured hostage negotiation is as an art form. Essentially, the author leads us through its principal elements on his way to his larger goal of showing its value as an overall negotiation strategy and design. Let us look at that design first.

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September 2004