Sunday, September 1, 2013
"The Kennedy Detail"
THE SECRET SERVICE. An elite team of men who share a single mission: to protect the president of the United States. On November 22, 1963, these men failed—and a country would never be the same. Now, for the first time, a member of JFK’s Secret Service detail reveals the inside story of the assassination, the weeks and days that led to it and its heartrending aftermath. This extraordinary book is a moving, intimate portrait of dedication, courage, and loss. Drawing on the memories of his fellow agents, Jerry Blaine captures the energetic, crowd-loving young president, who banned agents from his car and often plunged into raucous crowds with little warning. He describes the careful planning that went into JFK’s Texas swing, the worries and concerns that agents, working long hours with little food or rest, had during the trip. And he describes the intensely private first lady making her first-ever political appearance with her husband, just months after losing a newborn baby.
Here are vivid scenes that could come only from inside the Kennedy detail: JFK’s last words to his tearful son when he left Washington for the last time; how a sudden change of weather led to the choice of the open-air convertible limousine that day; Mrs. Kennedy standing blood-soaked outside a Dallas hospital room; the sudden interruption of six-year-old Caroline’s long-anticipated sleepover with a friend at home; the exhausted team of agents immediately reacting to the president’s death with a shift to LBJ and other key governmental figures; the agents’ dismay at Jackie’s decision to walk openly from the White House to St. Matthew’s Cathedral at the state funeral.
Most of all, this is a look into the lives of men who devoted their entire beings to protecting the presidential family: the stress of the secrecy they kept, the emotional bonds that developed, the terrible impact on agents’ psyches and families, and their astonishment at the country’s obsession with far-fetched conspiracy theories and finger-pointing. A book fifty years in coming, The Kennedy Detail is a portrait of incredible camaraderie and incredible heartbreak—a true, must-read story of heroism in its most complex and human form.
When I read books like this one I view it as reading about history. The only difference with this book, I remember so many details, as I lived at the time this history was made. I remember what I was doing when I heard the news of the President's death. I was standing in my living room ironing clothes with the TV on to help make the time go faster as I ironed away.
At that time in my life the TV was almost always on, and I happen to be watching the morning Lee Harvey Oswald was being transferred to another jail when he was shot. It was live TV, and it happened so quick, I almost couldn't believe what I had just seen.
As I read these accounts it brought back the memories as if they had just happened. If you like reading about history you will probably like this book. I found it fascinating in that it was the Secret Service men's account of what happened that sad day 50+ years ago. I awarded this book 4 stars because it was different and fascinating to read how the Secret Service 50 years ago operated. I'm sure today they operate quite differently.
This book is part of my Kindle Library.