A Word a Word

Roberto Saviano in La Repubblica: 'Wonderful travels in search for threads of dialogue.'

'Is the pen mightier than the sword?' As a child Frank Westerman experienced two Moluccan train hijackings from close proximity. As a correspondent he witnessed the Chechen terror in Russia. Starting out from these intense experiences he takes the reader with him through a series of high profile hostage dramas from Bovensmilde to Beslan.

The author mixes with terrorism negotiators in Paris and drinks mint tea with a former train hijacker who has become a poet. To get a sense of what language can do against terror, Frank Westerman goes a step further by subjecting himself to a hijacking exercise in a Boeing 747 at Schiphol Airport and by training as a hostage negotiator in a police training village. What can the word achieve against the bullet?

A Word a Word tests the strength of the free word under the pressure of present-day attacks since Charlie Hebdo.