THE MAGAZINE

Just 2 Seconds: Using Time and Space to Defeat Assassins

By Gavin de Becker, Tom Taylor, and Jeff Marquart; Reviewed by James R. Black, CPP, PSP, CET

 ***** Just 2 Seconds: Using Time and Space to Defeat Assassins. By Gavin de Becker, Tom Taylor, and Jeff Marquart; published by Gavin de Becker, www.gavindebecker.com (Web); 642 pages; $58.00.

In the amount of time it takes to read this sentence up to this point, most attacks against prominent or high-risk individuals would have begun and ended. That incredible fact reflects an extensive analysis of more than 1,400 events spanning nearly 50 years; that knowledge base forms the foundation of this book on personal protection.

The text is thoroughly interesting to read, covering the anatomy of attacks and how protectors should prepare for them. Throughout, the authors use well-known historical incidents to dissect actions, reactions, and inactions during the moment of crisis.

For example, readers will find an analysis of John Hinckley’s attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan, down to fractions of each second, analyzing who coiled into a fetal position in the line of fire and who did their jobs. Readers will learn how protectors’ actions that day saved Reagan’s life while causing him to be shot. This critical analysis underscores the important lessons proffered throughout the book.

One riveting section—valuable even for those who don’t work in personal protection—covers the critical importance of remaining mentally “in the now” despite the natural, internal adversaries working against us. The wandering mind, the authors assert, is usually the result of superfluous thinking that causes our perception of current events to cease. Readers will learn that being perpetually “present” requires that one be free of common distractions and cravings.

To that point, coauthor Gavin de Becker writes that his company is not only a nicotine-free workplace, but employees must be nicotine-free 24 hours a day, and the firm conducts random urinalyses to ensure it. This section may lead readers to evaluate how nicotine, caffeine, and sugar can influence their own work.

Other sections raise matters of appearance and perception that should also be useful to everyone. Like other effective people, the authors write, effective protectors generally radiate confidence. Interviews conducted with attackers proved that the perceived attitude and confidence of protectors led them to pick different targets, as in the case of Gov. George Wallace’s would-be assassin, who initially targeted President Richard Nixon.

The authors wrote this book primarily for protectors of celebrities, executives, and other high-risk individuals. Just as computers function best when loaded with accurate and easily retrievable data, protection professionals are encouraged to mentally download the information in this book so as to better recall it when needed. For them, this is the ultimate reference standard worthy of the top desk drawer.


Reviewer: James R. Black, CPP, PSP, CET (Certified Engineering Technologist), is an Irvine, California-based senior security consultant for TRC, a multidiscipline infrastructure engineering firm. He is a member of ASIS International and the International Association of Professional Security Consultants.

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