***** Escape the Wolf: Risk Mitigation; Personal Security Handbook for the Traveling Professional. By Clint Emerson with Lynn Walters; Escape the Wolf, escapethewolf.com; 570 pages; $39.99.
So you go to the home of a business contact in Angola, and you choose to bring a box of chocolates as a token gift and look him directly in the eye during the conversation. It is only later that you find out that the chocolates are a good idea, but the meeting did not go well because Angolans avoid direct eye contact as they believe this will make the other feel scrutinized. Fast forward to a meeting in Hong Kong. You choose to wear your white linen jacket because of the heat and present a clock with your company’s name on it to your local contact. Too bad no one told you that in the local society, the color white represents death and mourning, and clocks are considered bad luck. That information could have been helpful in the planning stage of your meeting.
When you must operate in unfamiliar cultures, seemingly small things can affect not only whether you win a contract but also whether you put yourself or others in danger of bodily harm. Clint Emerson, a former Department of Defense employee and longtime resident of Saudi Arabia, has constructed a truly enlightening book that delves into these types of situations.
While Escape the Wolf is lengthy, it is well structured and easy to follow. The book has three parts, starting with personal safety. The concepts of total awareness, practical travel, observation, decision-making, threats, and preparation are detailed in an easy-to-read format. Part two looks at the worst case scenario: the terrorism threat—but the perspective is a 72-page breakdown of the Al Qaeda Manual, the thought being that it never hurts to peek at the other side’s playbook before the game so that you can work on your own plans.
The third and longest section is perhaps the most informative. It examines more than 50 locations, including Afghanistan, Vietnam, Peru, Colombia, Nigeria, Russia, and Tunisia. Each section has an overview of the country, key cultural concepts and values, working relationships, and business etiquette explanations relative to the best practices in that region.
The book is aimed at the average professional businessperson, and security professionals may find some security discussions rather basic. The book can, nonetheless, be a good refresher and an excellent starting place for conducting security travel briefings with nonsecurity personnel.
Reviewer: Christopher Eger is a supervisor for a top-50 homeland security contractor that protects vital federal infrastructure including U.S. courthouses, offices, and four presidential libraries. He has worked in physical security and force protection for 10 years and has written more than 300 articles on security and related topics.