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The Kennedy Detail: JFK's Secret…

The Kennedy Detail: JFK's Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence (edition 2010)

by Gerald Blaine, Lisa McCubbin, Clint Hill (Foreword)

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1531078,096 (3.94)3
Title:The Kennedy Detail: JFK's Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence
Authors:Gerald Blaine
Other authors:Lisa McCubbin, Clint Hill (Foreword)
Info:Gallery Books (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:US history, John F Kennedy, secret service, biography

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The Kennedy Detail: JFK's Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence by Gerald Blaine



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Fifty-one years ago President Kennedy was assassinated. For many years the Secret Service have maintained their silence about that day. Their job was to protect the president, and they had failed. Their feelings of loss and failure had to be buried because they still had a job to do, they had to protect the new president. Since most of what happened in their job was confidential they couldn’t even talk to family members about their feelings.

There is much controversy concerning the assassination of John Kennedy. Was it conspiracy? Was there more than one shooter? Did Oswald even fire a shot? Just this week there is a show about a mafia hit man who confessed to shooting John Kennedy from the ‘grassy knoll’. These theories are briefly mentioned along with the belief that the Dallas police got the right guy, but the focus of this book is the Secret Service agents, the men who had to be “Worthy of Trust and Confidence”.

With the personal accounts of other agents, made possible because of the extensive records they were required to keep and most of the agents saved we learn many intimate details about the president, first lady and agents. The agents had to adjust to fit the new personality of the presidents. Eisenhower was a former military man who treated the Secret Service agents as if they were soldiers standing post. He didn’t take unnecessary risks and ran things with military precision. Kennedy was completely different. He was the youngest man elected president, he had a wife and young children. He was popular and loved interacting with people. Which caused many security headaches for the Secret Service.

These facts are all brought out in great detail in this book. Along with many personal details witnessed only by Secret Service agents such as Kennedy’s last words to his young son when leaving Washington and why the President and First Lady were in a convertible on the motorcade. Overall I was impressed at how the Agents balanced being considerate of people’s feelings while never losing sight of their responsibilities and maintaining their professionalism.

It also helps us to understand the great stress they were under, how they had to adjust instantly from protecting Kennedy to protecting Johnson. How they had to keep secret everything they witnessed while on the job, and how the agents had to work so closely as a team. Also the extreme feeling of guilt they carried with them after the assassination, even the agents who weren’t in the motorcade felt some sense of guilt.

If you are a conspiracy theorist you will probably not like this book, if you are interested in the life and death of JFK, or want to learn about the inner workings of the presidency and the secret service, this is the book for you. ( )
  BellaFoxx | Feb 14, 2015 |
I liked this book because it told you about how the secret service works and it also told you things about the Kennedy family like Jackie smoking secretly and made them seem like everyday normal people and not just the icons they were known as. It was also the first time I had read a written account about the day of his assasination not just viewing video of what was shown on the news. ( )
  susanmaj67 | Jun 8, 2011 |
The Kennedy Detail is well-written and believable book about the presidency and assassination of John Kennedy. The book is written in third person so it can be read as a book from the perspective of many of the Secret service agent. Though we see alot of Mr. Blaine in the story, it is the inclusion of Clint Hill's story that infuses the story with personal drama. It was enjoyable to read a story of this event in which the only motive was to present a personal account of what happened that day. ( )
1 vote taterzngravy | May 11, 2011 |
The Good Stuff

* Compelling and authentic and extremely classy (no tell all gossip book here)
* Touching first hand accounts of the relationship between JFK and his staff and his family
* Good selection of photographs including a lovely candid one of JFK and his kids on Halloween
* The scene between JFK and his son is very touching when you realize this is the last time they will ever see each other. Made me cry -- for once at least I wasn't in a public place when I read it
* Enjoyed the little glimpse into how compassionate and how all to human JFK and his wife were
* The obvious love and respect that the agents had for each other and for their "boss"
* honestly just really interesting to learn about the inner workings of the Secret Service and of the men whose job it is to protect the president - just plain fascinating
* Extremely detailed descriptions of the days before and after the assassination
* The descriptions of the agents grief and their obvious feelings of survivors guilt and shame are very moving
* Touching stories about the relationship between the agents and JFK's kids before and after the assassination
* Why are you still reading my ramblings just go get the book - you know you want to.

The Not so Good Stuff

* Jumps around a little and I got lost a couple of times -- but hey I am a sleep deprived mom, you guys might not notice as much
* Sometimes I was a little frustrated with all the minute details - see above note
* Also, (and you should know one of my history teachers, Mr Centa was a HUGE conspiracy theorist and I had to attend tons of his presentations in high school so this stuff has been ingrained in me - I can't tell you how many times we had to see the Zapruder film) I sort of balked at the obvious plea for us to put our full trust in the findings of the Warren Commission (See the last quote in next section)

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"The publishing of motorcade routes was a constant battle between the Secret Service and the president's political advisers. From the Secret Service standpoint, informing the public about the president's movements in advance was like inviting the fox into the hen-house, while the political folks looked at is as a necessity. From their views, the whole point of the motorcade was for JFK to be seen by as many people as possible."

"Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others - John F. Kennedy"

"Meanwhile, Godfrey was fuming. He couldn't wait to get out of the country. He turned to Rowley and said, "The Italians haven't changed since the last time I was here. The only difference is, now we can't shoot at 'em"

"I would be very pleased if the results of the Warren Commission and its investigation would be accepted as the final word. However, I know that the researchers, writers, and filmmakers who continue to question those findings will never accept those as the truth. The information presented by the majority of these people is theory, not fact. They were not witnesses to the assassination; have little or no knowledge of protective procedures; did not know the dedicated agents on this assignment; and simply were not in our shoes that day in Dallas."

What I Learned

* Fascinating details about the day to day challenges faced by members of the Secret Service
* How few Secret Service were actually in charge of protecting the president and how this has changed since
* Too many interesting historical tidbits to mention -- just go buy the book -- or of course ask your friendly neighborhood Librarian for a copy
* John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic to be elected president -- seriously I couldn't believe it either
* How little these guys actually got paid to put their lives on the line and how horribly boring it could be
* Really would have hated to be married to one of these guys

Who should/shouldn't read

* I'm thinking serious conspiracy theorists will be totally put off by this one -- that's right Fox Mulder and Dr. Jack Hodgins this book is not for you (And cannot forget about you Mr Centa)
* History buffs and those interested in the Secret Service will definitely enjoy
* Definite must have for Kennedy junkies

4.5 Dewey's

Purchased this from Indigo on recommendation from Captain Awesome of Indigo Jeremy Cammy ( )
1 vote mountie9 | Apr 7, 2011 |
Excellent Read. Very interesting look inside the Secret Service. I'm a child of the 60's and I almost couldn't get thru the chapter dealing with the assasination! Even after all these years it still is heartbreaking.

But as hard as it was for we the general public, it is almost unbearable to read of the aftermath in the closed world of the agents. To think that in 40 some odd years they had never discussed even among themselves the feelings of failure, the sadness, the truths is unbelievable.

I would recommend this one especially to those whose hearts were broken in 1963 ( )
1 vote busyreadin | Mar 18, 2011 |
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This book is dedicated to the agents who served on the Kennedy Secret Service White House Detail and their wives and families whose lives were dramatically, yet silently, impacted by the events described in this book, and to all Special Agents of the United States Secret Service dedicated to the mission of protecting our country's leaders.
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It was one of those rare moments in history when time stood still and people the world over remember where they were and what they were doing.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The true story of the assassination of JFK, told by Secret Service agents who were there and who have lived with the guilt and grief from that day.

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