In the President`s Secret Service, by Ronald Kessler
(Click for Amazon book review)
BOOK REVIEW by OnTheIssues.org:
This book is about the Secret Service and their "protectees." OnTheIssues.org only excerpts materials about Presidents from Kennedy onward, but the Secret Service has been around since well prior to 1960, and also protects the Vice President, former presidents, and their families (and investigates counterfeiting!). This book is a fringe book for political junkies -- but a must-read for anyone interested in the inner workings of the Secret Service, or the inner workings of the White House.
The book's real value is in its analysis of the shortcomings of the Secret Service -- detailing how they lose experienced agents due to inflexible and arbitrary work rules, for example. The Secret Service became part of DHS, the new Department of Homeland Security initiated after 9/11, and according to the author has suffered ever since, both in terms of funding and effectiveness. The book ends with a warning, "Without changes, an assassination of Barack Obama or a future president is likely. If that happens, a new Warren Commission will be appointed to study the tragedy. It will find that the Secret Service was shockingly derelict in its duty."
This book reveals lots of interesting trivia about the personal lives of presidents -- they're the bulk of our excerpts -- we omit the more salacious details about each president in living memory. Secret Service agents know many such salacious details as part of doing their job, and evidently are often enlisted to assist in evading First Ladies (using the "FLOTUS protectee locator", of course!). Readers might wonder how the author gathered this information, since Secret Service agents supposedly keep mum about their protectees' activities.
This book also reveals lots of interesting trivia about assassination attempts -- plus the Kennedy assassination and the Secret Service's lessons learned. In doing so, the book explains Secret Service's methodology -- everything from how they read and score incoming mail threats; to how they uses visions from psychics to avoid trouble. Readers might wonder how the author gathered this information, since the Secret Service's methodology is supposedly secret too.
-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, OnTheIssues.org, April 2011
P.S. See our review of Kessler's other presidential book, A Matter of Character.
| OnTheIssues.org excerpts: (click on issues for details)
Barack Obama: Survived vague threats from Ku Klux Klan during campaign.
Bill Clinton: Survived six assassination attempts in 1994, one by airplane.
George W. Bush: Survived 2005 assassination attempt in former USSR.
Gerald Ford: Survived 1975 assassination attempt by Squeaky Fromme.
Gerald Ford: Survived 1975 assassination attempt by Sara Jane Moore.
John F. Kennedy: After assassination, Secret Service bolstered security.
John F. Kennedy: Warned before assassination to avoid Dallas as too dangerous.
Richard Nixon: Survived 1958 mob riot as VP in Venezuela.
Ronald Reagan: Survived 1981 assassination attempt by John Hinckley.
Ted Kennedy: Survived 1979 assassination attempt in Senate office.
Barack Obama: Yes, he still smokes while President.
George W. Bush: 2001: Both daughters arrested for alcohol possession.
Jimmy Carter: Declared White House to be officially "dry".
Energy & Oil|
Jimmy Carter: Installed solar panels on White House roof.
Al Gore: Changed EPA rules about bacteria tests in bottled water.
Ronald Reagan: Carried a pistol as president on his ranch & to the USSR.
Jimmy Carter: Declined to keep "nuclear football" at home in Georgia.
Joe Biden: Revealed location of top-secret bunker beneath VP residence.
Michael Chertoff: Illegal immigrants cleaned his DC home; fined $22,880.
Principles & Values|
Barack Obama: Inaugurated using Abraham Lincoln's Bible.
Bill Clinton: "Clinton Standard Time": late to most appointments.
Bill Clinton: OpEd: Feeds on energy from personal contact with crowds.
Bill Clinton: Why Harlem? "We won't let anything happen to that man".
George Bush Sr.: Requires that all hotels have exercise bikes in his room.
Gerald Ford: Portrayed as a klutz, but was actually athletic.
Hillary Clinton: 1995: Rumors that she would divorce Bill and run against him.
Hillary Clinton: Listening Tour: gracious in public; but events were staged.
Hillary Clinton: 1999: Paid $1.7M for personal home in Chappaqua.
Jimmy Carter: Discourteous & dismissive of White House staff.
John F. Kennedy: Double life as charismatic leader and cheating husband.
John F. Kennedy: Insisted on low-security open convertible despite risks.
Lyndon Johnson: 1987: Lady Bird admitted, "My husband loved women".
Richard Nixon: Silent with family; limited relationship with wife.
Richard Nixon: Didn't know whom to trust during Watergate; became paranoid.
Richard Nixon: Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned in financial scandal.
Ronald Reagan: Nancy's book: You bet I gave Ronnie advice.
The above quotations are from In the President`s Secret Service, by Ronald Kessler.
Biographies of past presidents:
- President George W. Bush
- Decision Points, by George W. Bush
- A Charge to Keep, by George W. Bush
- President Bill Clinton
- Back to Work, by Pres. Bill Clinton
- The Agenda, by Bob Woodward
- President George H. W. Bush
- All the Best, My Life in Letters, by George Bush Sr.
- The Family, (the Bushes) by Kitty Kelley
- William & Mary Environmental Law Review, by Cameron Lynch
- President Ronald Reagan
- Dutch, a Memoir of Ronald Reagan, by Edmund Morris
- Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation, by Pres. Ronald Reagan
- President Jimmy Carter
- An Hour Before Daylight, by Jimmy Carter
- Jimmy Who?: biography of Jimmy Carter
- President Gerald Ford
- Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate,by Bob Woodward
- A Time to Heal: The Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford
- President Richard Nixon
- Seize the Moment, by Richard Nixon
- The Watergate Transcripts, by The Washington Post
- President Lyndon Johnson
- The Passage of Power, by Robert Caro
- Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, by Michael Beschloss
- President John F. Kennedy
- Profiles In Courage, by John F. Kennedy
- A Nation of Immigrants, by John F. Kennedy
- Kennedy & Nixon, by Chris Matthews
- 1000 Days, by Arthur Schlesinger
- President Dwight Eisenhower
- Waging Peace, by Dwight Eisenhower
- Ike and Dick, by Jeffrey Frank
- President Harry Truman
- Plain Speaking, by Merle Miller
- Wit & Wisdom of Harry Truman, by Ralph Keyes