Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Read: "Bomb Squad" by Richard Esposito and Ted Gerstein

Read: Bomb Squad: a year inside the nation's most exclusive police unit by Richard Esposito and Ted Gerstein, 2007, 978140131521.

I finished this a couple weeks ago but wanted to read the last appendix to be thorough. But, the book was dropped behind the bed and it was too difficult to gear myself up to read a selective list of international terror bombings from 1945 to 2003.

A fairly decent book but only because of the inherently interesting subject matter. The writing was just "okay" and the organization and background information could have been much better. The authors use that awful method of repetition of the same facts or statements from chapter to chapter that other journalist authors seem to use. As if each chapter is written a month apart and forgotten. These guys are not John McPhee.

The authors followed the New York City Police Department Bomb Squad through all of 2004. The squad is a small unit responsible for the whole city. Those responsibilities include sweeps at Mets and Yankees baseball games, parades, presidential visits, UN events, Fourth of July, City Hall, and federal buildings. Call outs for suspicious devices, old military ordinance in basements, and improvised bombs under cars. After September 11 demand for the unit and pressure to expand the unit have increased. Unfortunately, expansion would lead to less skilled bomb technicians as squad members would have less and less hands on experience.

Interesting tidbits:
Bomb techs do no follow-up investigations. They respond to a suspicious device, check-out it out or defuse it, and then leave it to detectives. Their only investigative duties are crime scene investigation and rebuilding or modeling exploded bombs.

Puerto Rican separatists, the FALN, set off loads of bombs in New York. One bomb maker, Morales, had both arms blown off, escaped jail, went on the lam and ended up in Mexico. "When the location of [the bomber] was pinned down, Mexican authorities were alerted. But they underestimated the FALN and sent just two cops in a patrol car. Morales had five armed guards. In the shoot-out, one officer was seriously wounded and the other fatally wounded. But the officers managed to kill all of Morales's bodyguards. As Morales tries to flee, a final shot from the wounded officer knocked him to the ground. The wounded officer picked up the wounded Morales, locked him in the trunk of the patrol car, and then hoisted his fatally shot fellow officer into the backseat. It was too late for the officer by the time they got him to the hospital."

"The rule: Wherever there are bombs and Nazi memorabilia, there will be dildos and sex toys."

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