Skip to main content

In The President's Secret Service by Ronald Kessler


In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect by Ronald Kessler pretty much says it all in its title. One of the things that I liked best about this book was the short chapters. Especially recently I've found that if a book has rather long chapters, it is a big turn off for me. That was what drove me up the wall when I read The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway in high school: it's a novella that was basically one long chapter. I hated it, and I hated the story. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness was basically three really long chapters. Hated it. And I had to read it twice in college and write a paper on it both times. The first paper, for my introduction to literary criticism class, was about how I got nothing out of it and why I got nothing out of it. To be honest, the story itself is not one that I would choose to read on my own, so that didn't help it at all. But I digress. Back to the book at hand.

In alternating chapters Kessler relates the history and training of the U.S. Secret Service and the experiences agents have had while protecting the president and other protectees. Candid quotes reveal disturbing details of past presidents' behavior and personalities behind closed doors. These range from philandering, adultery, hypocrisy, and drunken spouses to more positive tales relating the consideration and warmth with which other presidents have treated their protective detail. Kessler also relates agents' encounters with various classes of threats to the president, such as individuals who have mailed, emailed, or telephoned a threat on the president's life, and how these threats are investigated and neutralized.

Kessler also relates how agents are receiving less training, how the management culture drives out promising and talented agents, and how agents are pressured to cut corners when it comes to their protection details. The disturbing consensus is that due to these factors, it is only a matter of time before an assassination attempt on a protectee is successful. The author also portrays earlier presidents in a negative light regarding their behavior away from the public's eyes, while more recent presidents seem to be portrayed in a more positive light.

The stories related about the presidents' and other protectees' behavior and attitude toward the agents on their detail were interesting. However, the discrepancy between the portrayal of certain presidents as compared with others made me slightly skeptical regarding their veracity. Most of the presidents portrayed in a negative light along with most of their families are dead and no one remains to confirm or refute what is related in the book. Why does Kessler relate this kind of 'dirt' on dead presidents but not on those still alive? By far the most interesting (and sometimes most disturbing and outrageous) parts of the book were the chapters that related the history, training, and practices of the Secret Service.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Broken by Karin Slaughter

Before I begin the formal review there are a few things I need to get off my chest in the wake of finishing this book; I'll do so without giving away too many (or any) spoilers.
The OUTRAGE!: the identity of Detective Lena Adams' new beau; the low depths to which Grant County's interim chief has sunk and brought the police force down with him; agent Will Trent's wife, Angie's, sixth sense/nasty habit of reappearing in his life just when he's slipping away from her. Thank God for small miracles though because while Angie was certainly referred to during the book, the broad didn't make an appearance. One sign that I've become way too invested in these characters is that I'd like to employ John Connolly's odd pair of assassins, Louis and Angel, to contract out a hit on Angie; do you think Karin Slaughter and John Connolly could work out a special cross over?
Hallelujah: Dr. Sara Linton and agent Will Trent are both back. There is no hallelujah for…

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

When the end came, it seemed to do so completely out of the blue, and it wasn't until long afterward that I was able to see that there was a chain of events leading up to it. Some of those events had nothing to do with us, the Morrisons, but were solely the concern of the Pyes, who lived on a farm about a mile away and were our nearest neighbors." from page seven
I must confess that it took me longer than it really needed to in order to finish the novel Crow Lake by Mary Lawson. The entire story is building up to the big catastrophe that forever destroys all the hopes and dreams the Morrison clan ever dared to hope and dream for its future. In the eyes of the narrator, it is even worse than the tragedy of the car crash that claimed both parents' lives one evening on the heels of some good news the family has received and celebrated. Now you can see why I dreaded getting to the end of a book that drips in foreboding like nobody's business. What can be a worse tra…

In The Woods by Tana French

"What I warn you to remember is that I am a detective. Our relationship with the truth is fundamental, but cracked, refracting confusingly like fragmented glass. It is the core of our careers, the endgame of every move we make, and we pursue it with strategies painstakingly constructed of lies ... and every variation on deception. The truth is the most desirable woman in the world and we are the most jealous lovers, reflexively denying anyone else the slightest glimpse of her. We betray her routinely ... This is my job ... What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this--two things: I crave truth. And I lie." opening lines of In The Woods chapter 1, pages 3-4
In The Woods by Tana French, an Irish writer, is an extremely well-written and well-crafted mystery novel. The downside is that this is French's debut novel, and her website (located at http://www.tanafrench.com/) does not offer any insi…