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Home > Reviews > A Guide for Business Travelers

A Guide for Business Travelers

Author Charles E Goslin

ISBN No 9781498765787

Review date 20/05/2022

No of pages 266

Publisher CRC Press

Publisher URL

Year of publication 30/06/2017


Our Review


£ 24.99

Understanding Personal Security and Risk: A Guide for Business Travelers, as the spelling suggests, is a book by an American; a retired Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operations officer, Charles Goslin.

It may grate on some non-US readers that in the very first paragraph of his introduction he appears to lump in Europe among 'dangerous, third world urban environments' beside Yemen and Uganda, for instance; when surely the point is that thanks to recent terror attacks, even a familiar, benign developed world city such as Brussels can suddenly become a hostile place, and parts of most countries have their nice parts of nice cities. In short, the old distinction between first and third, developed and developing world, is no longer as straightforward. In fairness to Goslin, he at once shows that he is well aware of all that. And, he did travel Europe as a teenager in the 1970s (as he points out, times have changed). And, he does say early on that the UK's Foreign Office website for travel advice is a favourite of his.

As he sets out, his book is not only for security professionals but for those that work and live abroad (Goslin meaning outside the United States, but in a book on business travel, the principles apply anywhere). That can be journalists, contractors and consultants. Goslin makes the good point that corporates may manage journeys by their staff, and spend on security of buildings 'and (perhaps) executive protection of senior executives travelling to a high-risk region'. His book, as he sets out, is for the space in between; 'about giving you the tools and the instincts to avoid having to be plucked from the jaws of kidnappers and terrorists in the first place'.

The book then, while it opens with a chapter on principles, gets stuck into practicalities, such as what to do at a police (or paramilitary) checkpoint; various kinds of kidnapping in various countries; securing yourself in a hotel or residence; when moving; and in those 'soft targets' such as shopping malls and cinemas. As the book's title says, it's about securing the person, whether in cyber terms or physically, by doing risk assessment.

It's quite brief and readable, and easy on the eye, as there are half- or quarter-page anecdotes, such as how to get about quietly while in Yemen. One quibble might be that the book could have more to say about medical matters, not so much if you are hurt by a robber, but if you are in some more mundane accident - a traffic collision or you eat something that disagrees with you. But in fairness, that would be going beyond the book's title.

Other books are around on the same subject, such as Charles Brossman's Building a Travel Risk Management Program, reviewed last year.

So why choose this one? Two reasons at least. First, Goslin has been there and done that, and he relates it and draws sensible and useful conclusions. For instance, he recalls the two 'genuine in-flight emergencies' that he has experienced. Second, from start to finish he puts his finger on what he calls 'the red-headed stepchild of the overall discipline of security', namely personal security training and awareness. He states the obvious, which does want stating; that personal security comes down to you, the traveller, and no other; tracking devices are all very well, but if you are the 'tip of the spear' of business development, in some obscure part of the world, you have to apply thought, beyond that 45 minute briefing you had before setting off from corporate security (or HR). Third, something else Goslin shrewdly points out; the world is 'increasingly insecure'; for instance, kidnappers may go after mid-level employees, for smaller ransoms, rather than take longer to get millions for the senior exec captured. As Goslin points out, in the Middle East and Africa you may be staying in hotels or resorts that look like those at home, doing business in a 'relatively benign environment that has become host to hostile threat actors'. Goslin closes by wishing the reader the best of luck, but also points out that in terms of personal security, it takes homework, watching the terrain, and being observant for your self-defence.

If you ever arrive at an airport at 2am or check into a 'strange hotel in some downtown provincial capital', Goslin's book is for you. Although if you have done that, you should really have prepared by reading it beforehand.


Chapter 1 – Important Personal Security Concepts
Concept of Effectiveness
Concepts of Threat, Vulnerability and Risk
Concept of Time
Committing a security plan to memory
Threat Agents and Threat Actors
Chapter 2 – Personal Security Principles
The Principle of Preparation
Principle of Detection
Principle of Deterrence
Principle of Delay
The Principle of Defense
Selected Threat Actor Profile: Street Gangsters
Chapter 3 - When travel plans go sideways
Arrival at the Airport
On the road: checkpoints and roadblocks
Selected Threat Actor Profiles: Roadblocks and Military, Insurgents and Police
Chapter 4 - Kidnapping
Classifying Types of Kidnap/Abduction Operations
Tip of the Iceberg: Keeping Kidnap Threat Trends in Perspective
Measures to Counter the Kidnap Threat
Recovering from Kidnap
Executive Protection: Key Elements of a Program
Selected Threat Actor Profile: The mindset of a Kidnapper
Chapter 5 – Patterns of threat in the environment
Cover of darkness
Alcohol, Drugs & the Environment
"Broken Windows"
Natural Disasters
Civil Disorder and Rioting
Chapter 6 - Hotel and Residential Security
Considerations when choosing a hotel
Residential Security
Selected Threat Actor Profiles: Pickpockets, Thieves and the World’s Oldest Profession…
Chapter 7 – Cyber Security On The Road
"Darkhotel" Threat
Foreign Intelligence Service Threat
Identity Theft Abroad
Chapter 8 – Shopping, the Sports Stadium, Theatres…Soft Targets
Considerations about the threat
Response Countermeasure 1: Active Shooters
Response Countermeasure 2: Suicide Bomber
Selected Threat Actor Profiles: The Jihadist Suicide Bomber
Chapter 9 - Risk Assessment for Personal Security

Step 1: Asset Identification and Impact of Loss
Step 2: Identify & Characterize the Threat to Specific Assets
Step 3: Identify & Characterize Vulnerabilities
Step 4: Assess Risks & Determine Priorities for You and Your Team’s Protection
Step 5: Identify unacceptable risks and determine Risk Mitigation priorities

Chapter 10 – Personal Security and Transportation: Securing Your Movement
Ground Transportation: Vehicle and Rail
Air Transportation
Chapter 11 – Managing Your Team’s Personal Security
The Team Briefing
On The Ground
Roadblock Protocol
At the Hotel
Managing Crisis Situations