by Richard Esposito and Ted Gerstein
New York: Hyperion, 2007. Pp. xiv, 338.
Illus., append., index. 24.95. ISBN:1-401-30152-5
In Bomb Squad two journalists have teamed up to tell the story of the
NYPD?s small (33-strong) but select team of explosives experts. In recent years the NYPD Bomb Squad has
responded to an average of some 200 incidents a year. Some of these are false alarms, involving ?suspicious? packages
or hoaxes. But others are deadly
The focus of Bomb Squad is on recent events.
This is certainly appropriate, given the increased threat in an era of
heightened international terrorism.
They cover a good many specific incidents, usually based on interviews with
participating Bomb Squad personnel. In
the process, they discuss the techniques and equipment that Bomb Squad members
use to identify and disarm or otherwise dispose of explosive devices, while
keeping themselves from harm. There are
successes and failures. Accounts of the
latter, are, of course, the most moving and tragic.
In the process of telling the
story of the Bomb Squad today, the authors very effectively weave its history
into the tale. Using vignettes, they
reach back into the nineteenth century, to recount the bombing incidents that
led New York to establish the first explosives disposal unit in the country in
1903. These historical vignettes, which
are supplemented by several highly informative appendices, are usefull not only
in providing background, but also allows the authors to deal with some notable
incidents in the past that often have eerie parallels to contemporary threats,
such as the 1920 ?wagon bombing? of Wall Street or the infamous ?Mad Bomber? of
the 1940s and 1950s. This also helps
them discuss the evolution of bomb disposal techniques, which in the earliest
times were frighteningly primitive.
is a valuable read for
anyone interested in homeland protection.