Ann Hagedorn Auerbach Ransom

ISBN 13: 9780805061260

Ransom

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9780805061260: Ransom

In Ransom, Ann Hagedorn Auerbach explores two years in the high-stakes realm of international kidnapping, beginning with the stunning 1995 kidnapping of an American couple on the banks of a Himalayan river in Kashmir. Seamlessly moving between this story and others equally heart-wrenching, the book shows how the post-Cold War global economic climate has encouraged the increasingly lucrative criminal enterprise of kidnapping for ransom. Exposing a shadowy underworld inhabited by private kidnap negotiators, unsuspecting travelers, and an array of professional kidnappers including former rebels, former terrorists, and even former soldiers, Auerbach uses hundreds of never-before-reported facts culled from interviews worldwide to disclose one shocking detail after another about this global crime, including trends that potentially threaten every businessperson and tourist.

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Review:

Ransom opens with the story of five men taken hostage in 1995 in Kashmir, the hotly disputed paradise that lies between India and Pakistan. The men--two Britons, an American, a German, and a Norwegian--were tourists hiking their way through the breathtakingly beautiful part of the Himalayan mountains that crosses through Kashmir, when men with weapons appeared and snatched the five hostages from their wives, girlfriends, and fellow tourists. Interweaving the story of the Kashmir abduction with accounts of other kidnappings and interviews with antikidnapping "risk" experts, Ann Hagedorn Auerbach weaves a mesmerizing tale of kidnapping on a massive scale: as many as 20,000 to 30,000 incidents occur annually, she claims, up from about 6,000 per year during the 1980s.

Although most modern kidnappings are motivated by profit, she says, many are baffling and senseless. Auerbach ascribes some of the blame for the rise in kidnappings to the end of the cold war, which brought a substantial number of uneducated but highly trained soldiers into the mercenary pool as demilitarization slashed military budgets worldwide. Ransom also details the countermeasures that have been put into effect to combat the kidnapping problem, from the FBI's own recent internal revolution on the issue to the rise of high-tech "risk consultants," freelancers who provide danger assessments for corporations and individuals and who, if necessary, will fly to the scene of a hostage taking to negotiate with the kidnappers.

As for the five in Kashmir, one is dead: the Norwegian, his body found dismembered barely a month after the group was taken hostage. Of the remaining four, no word of their situation has come since December 1995, when the four men were allowed to record a message for their families. --Tjames Madison

About the Author:

Ann Hagedorn Auerbach is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and has also written for The San Jose Mercury News, The New York Daily News, and The Washington Post. She is the award-winning author of Wild Ride: The Rise and Tragic Fall of Calumet Farm, Inc. (Owl Books, 0-8050-4242-3, $14.95), which was a regional bestseller and launched a government investigation. She lives New York City.

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Ann Hagedorn Auerbach
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Auerbach, Ann Hagedorn
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