Anne Diebel works as a private investigator in New York. She was formerly the Robert L. Belknap Faculty Fellow at Columbia. (May 2019)

IN THE REVIEW

Kidnapping: A Very Efficient Business

Jennifer Guinness, who had been kidnapped by the Provisional IRA, shortly after her rescue, Dublin, 1986

We Want to Negotiate: The Secret World of Kidnapping, Hostages, and Ransom

by Joel Simon

Kidnap: Inside the Ransom Business

by Anja Shortland
Kidnapping for ransom is almost always a deliberative enterprise. Kidnappers perform research, assess risks, manage costs, and, if they’re in it for the long term, build reputations for orderly resolution. Some groups even develop an infrastructure to support their operations, though this is expensive and may increase the number of expectant beneficiaries (if operations are mounted on credit, for example). When kidnappers keep hostages for days, weeks, or months, most invest in keeping them alive (a corpse is not worth much, except in the Iliad) and in decent health. Captives with medical conditions are usually allowed to receive medications; in 2010 al-Qaeda let a French woman with breast cancer take chemo drugs.

Simple Answers to Profound Questions

Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel, creators 
of the Myers-Briggs personality test, early 1900s

The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing

by Merve Emre
“Personality is never general; it is always particular,” wrote Gordon Allport, a Harvard psychologist, in 1938. While “personality” once meant merely personhood, since the late eighteenth century it has referred to the qualities that make a person distinctive. Within the field of psychology, the term was initially used of abnormal …