Friday, March 30, 2012
OUTSTANDING: SECOND ONLY TO "WITHIN ARM'S LENGTH"! I so wanted to dislike this book. As the leading civilian literary expert on the Secret Service, I had previously----and rightfully---lambasted Lisa McCubbin's prior effort entitled "The Kennedy Detail" for its rewriting of history, blaming JFK for his own death and putting words in the late president's mouth that he never once uttered, as verified by the prior accounts of numerous top agents and White House aides, many of whom WERE there in Dallas (unlike former agent Gerald Blaine). As previously stated, it was my 22-page letter to former agent Clint Hill that angered him and his best friend to whom I had also spoken to, the aforementioned Blaine, that directly led to the writing of "The Kennedy Detail" and, by extension, the need to write a follow-up tome, "Mrs. Kennedy & Me" (whenever a book is even a mild best-seller, which their first effort was, it is almost a guarantee that, if there is any gas left in the tank, so to speak, a further literary work will be forthcoming). In fact, both agents Blaine and Hill debated the merits of my research on television and, if that weren't enough, I was mentioned on pages 359-360 of "The Kennedy Detail" (without naming me, of course). One could argue several other pages refer to my work, directly or indirectly, but I digress from the matter at hand. Simply put, "Mrs. Kennedy & Me" is stupendous: a literary home run, second only to another brand new work, the outstanding 2012 book "Within Arm's Length" by former agent Dan Emmett, as attaining the mantle of being the greatest book on the Secret Service by a former agent ever to date (1865-2012 and counting). I almost cannot believe I am writing this but, alas, honesty prevails: Mr. Hill and Ms. McCubbin have alot to be proud of for this book---it is consistently everything "The Kennedy Detail" is not: truthful, honest, no axe to grind, not dry or boring, well written, and coming from the perspective of a brave and dedicated public servant who WAS truly there (to be fair, even "The Kennedy Detail", and certainly the documentary it was based on, had its moments, although my judgment is rightfully clouded by what I and others feel are the purposeful untruths and propaganda contained throughout, as well as the exasperating third-person narrative interwoven throughout the book, making it hard to pin down exactly WHO was responsible for specific passages. President Kennedy did NOT order the agents off his limousine in Tampa, in Dallas, or anywhere else, for that matter- SAIC Behn, ASAIC Boring, ATSAIC Godfrey, many of their colleagues, and several prominent White House aides said so). Do I still have misgivings about some of the agents on the Kennedy Detail? Sure; that will never change. Am I also an ardent admirer of the Secret Service? You bet: the agency has a whole lot to be proud of. Clint Hill at least TRIED to do something that fateful day in Dallas and carried much guilt and depression over the sad events of that time and place. That is a whole lot more than several of his colleagues can lay claim to. That aside, "Mrs. Kennedy & Me" is highly recommended to everyone for its honesty and rich body of true, first-hand accounts of guarding First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Too bad this book wasn't even longer and "The Kennedy Detail" did not exist, but one cannot ask for everything. Please purchase this fine book as soon as possible!