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Bomb Squad: A Year Inside the Nation's Most Exclusive Police Unit    by Richard Esposito & Ted Gerstein order for
Bomb Squad
by Richard Esposito
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2007 (2007)

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* * *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Journalists Esposito and Gerstein were given permission to spend one year with the United State's most exclusive police unit: the NYPD Bomb Squad. They spent their time well, getting 'inside the minds and hearts of 33 courageous men who risk their lives every day' and who are 'offhandedly humorous men who are partial to wash-and-wear shirts and just-good-enough ties. They tend to wear watches with easy-to-read numbers and sweep hands. They have to, because for the men of the NYPD Bomb Squad, time can suddenly come to and end with blast waves moving at 26,000 feet per second - and incomprehensible, invisible, soundless force'.

Esposito and Gerstein point out that the NYPD Bomb Squad has been in existence for 101 years, making it the oldest squad in the nation. During the course of those years, close to half a million officers have served New York City, and of those only 225 men were selected to join the elite ranks of the bomb squad. The late 1960's saw a sudden surge in domestic terrorism, making these specialists an even more necessary part of the New York force as well as many other forces across North America. In New York city alone, these bomb technicians answer the call to more than 2500 bomb runs per year.

The authors paint an honest and sincere picture of some of the technicians and specialists and just what goes on within the squad, both professionally and emotionally when a bomb threat is called in or an actual device is found and dealt with. They ride along to Spring Training and talk about Explosive Detective Canines and how important these dogs and their handlers are to their team. They're invited along to Bomb 101, the annual convention, training conference and trade exhibition for the International Association of Bomb Technicians and Investigators. And they remember a dark day in history in Pride and Remembrance - the role the squad had in 9/11, and that one of their own was lost when the towers fell.

A fascinating set of Appendices (that span a century) discuss the formation of bomb squads around the world as well as the varying array of terror and radical groups that use explosive devices to make their point, groups that unfortunately continue to grow and flourish, making the need for bomb squads even more critical. Bomb Squad: A Year Inside the Nation's Most Exclusive Police Unit is a revealing, inspiring and often unsettling behind-the-scenes look at the lives and the mindsets of a small group of unassuming men who risk their lives on a daily basis to keep their city safe.

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