Ransom: The Untold Story of International Kidnapping

Ann Hagedorn Auerbach, Author, Ann Hagedorn, Author Henry Holt & Company $25 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8050-4078-4
As the third anniversary of the captivity of Spokane neuropsychologist Donald Hutchings approaches, only one thing is certain: no one, including the FBI, the State Department and Scotland Yard, has any idea how to free him. The plight of Hutchings and the four European trekkers abducted in the Himalayas in July 1995 by a mysterious Islamic militant group is tragically familiar in this ""decade of the forgotten hostage,"" writes former Wall Street Journal reporter Auerbach (The Wild Ride). Americans are particularly at risk, she warns, as kidnappers target even mid-level executives, whose wealthy corporations are noted to cough up big ransoms. The growing number of American ""ecotourists"" are also easy prey, ""innocents abroad"" in an enticing but unstable global playground. Auerbach's accomplishment is to show how Hutchings's fearless wife, Jane, has coped, heartbeat by heartbeat, while a ""rudderless force"" of diplomats have improvised their way through negotiations with unknowable captors. She also succeeds in illuminating the ever-shifting dance between kidnappers and negotiators, revealing how and when ransom demands should be met, how time can be bought, when the media should be informed, when rescues should be attempted. But Auerbach is too ambitious here. Instead of focusing exclusively on the complicated Hutchings case, she recounts what seems to be nearly every reported kidnapping in the world from 1995 to 1997. And she meanders into an overlong analysis of the private kidnap negotiation industry, setting up an expectation that one of these high-priced professionals will secure Hutchings's release--a hope that, to date, remains unfounded. Rights (except first serial, British, translation, electronic): the Martell Agency. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Paperback - 496 pages - 978-0-8050-6126-0
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