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I am ambivalent about the Kennedy Detail. This review was ready to go a week ago, and frankly I did not want to send it in. I have written 100 plus reviews and this is the first time I experienced this feeling.

If you are new to an understanding of the Kennedy Assassination, or the Kennedy Administration then I would tell you that you should absolutely read this book, and you will LOVE it. You will have an understanding of the adoration felt by the Secret Service agents who guarded him, as well as the American people who voted for this extraordinary man. I say extraordinary because there is no question he had a charisma which very few people possess. The manner of his death left an indelible impression on anyone who was intellectually alive at the time, and elevated him to an exalted status that he would never have obtained, had he lived. This is no different than the effect of FDR's death on America in April of 1945, or Lincoln's in April of 1865.

Now this book, "The Kennedy Detail" comes along and promises to tell us about JFK's Secret Service Agents breaking their silence. The book has a strange narrative to it. It is written by Gerald Blaine with Lisa McCubbin. Gerald Blaine was a Special Agent in the Secret Service assigned to the White House detail that guarded John Kennedy. Lisa McCubbin is a journalist that has been associated with three major television news networks. She is obviously writing the book for Blaine, but oddly enough the book is completely written in the third person. It is not Gerald Blaine's voice we are hearing. For me, this was a problem.

My real problems with the book were two fold.

PROBLEM NUMBER 1

We all understand that President Kennedy was a flawed man. Whether it was the issue of his flagrant womanizing, or any other inappropriate behavior, the Secret Service would have had to be completely aware of it, and or complicit to it. There is not a single word about individuals such as Marilyn Monroe, Judith Exner, Mary Meyer or any other liaison that all of us are aware of, and history recognizes to be true. Now this is perfectly respectable, because the Secret Service relationship to its President should be as a lawyer is to a client, one of confidentiality.

Now having said that, I believe at the very least that the authors should have issued a disclaimer stating that many allegations were made about President Kennedy and his personal behavior. The authors will not confirm or deny the validity of these stories. Instead the authors choose to portray a fairy tale type existence inside the White House. I simply find it less than honest, and in fact hurtful to historical accuracy. It is a disservice to the record, and not forgivable. It is fraudulent, and phony.

It would have still been all right except there are a series of photographs following page 140. On the top of the 9th page of the photographs there's a great one of JFK looking down at Marilyn Monroe's breasts on the night of his birthday party at Madison Square Garden, May 19th, 1962. If you are going to include the photograph, now you have an obligation to tell the story.

PROBLEM NUMBER 2

The authors are completely sympathetic towards the Warren Commission interpretation of the assassination. I have a problem with this attitude. I feel much stronger about this than I will express here. We must remember that President Johnson within hours of the Assassination felt the Secret Service was incompetent according to tapes of LBJ's conversation, and talked to J. Edgar Hoover about having the FBI take over Presidential protection. There is no disagreement on this point.

Second, Lyndon Johnson and other members of the Warren Commission including Robert Kennedy himself did not believe the lone assassin theory. Please check Arthur Schlesinger and Walter Sheridan who worked for Bobby Kennedy at the Justice department on the historical record. Why does Blaine find it necessary to frankly shove it down the reader's throat about the lone assassain theory? I would remind Mr. Blaine that the President's Lincoln Continental that he died in was a crime scene. Secret Service agents are not crime scene experts, but any crime scene detective would tell you that the first rule or procedure in a crime scene is to PRESERVE THE CRIME SCENE.

The Presidential vehicle was basically ripped apart and destroyed and reconstructed. A partial cleaning occurred at the hospital in Dallas The evidence was gone forever. Who in their right mind would have ordered such a thing? In the next five years, some 4 million assassination related documents will be released relevant to the death of JFK and we may finally get to the bottom of this terrible crime against our country.

One final point is that I resent that at different times in the book, the Secret Service wants to make us aware that President Kennedy did not want the Secret Service physically blocking him from the voters during a motorcade. When I have stood in Dealey Plaza, I realized that anybody could have pulled a handgun and shot 5 feet into the car and killed this man. He was WIDE OPEN, and this is unforgivable.

What I LIKED about this book:

This is the finest book ever written about the Secret Service or the President's protection. Nothing comes close and I have seen everything. If you want to understand how the President is protected, this is the book for you. If you want to know how Secret Service protection differs today from what it was like back then in the 1960's, there is no better way to find out than through this book. The difference is like night and day. You need to understand practices and procedures back then, to understand what they are like today.

What you will realize is that these agents are highly professional, dedicated men, who swear an oath to place their bodies in the line of fire between those they protect, and those who seek to do harm. One has to have tremendous respect for these agents. Now having said that, there is a difference between those who protected FDR, Truman, Kennedy, and all those who came later. The organization has moved from a 3 or 4 car motorcade to a 50 to 54 car motorcade. Overworked agents who did consecutive multiple shifts with a commensurate decrease in their capacity to function were a norm back then. Now there is an abundance of agents protecting POTUS.

Overall protection for the President including costs of Air Force One, and Marine One approaches several hundred million dollars per year. This estimate is in the public area, and will not be verified by the Secret Service. The dollars spent is even shielded from Congress through budgetary hocus pocus. JFK had 30 to 40 Secret Service agents assigned to his detail - that's it. Heads of many American corporations routinely have a 24 man protection detail which includes 8 men per 8 hour shift. The rap star P. Diddy spends $30,000 per day on protection. Today Secret Service protection is exponentially bigger than back then. It's a different world.

CONCLUSION

Read this book to understand the workings of Presidential protection in the old days, and a less than honest understanding of who is responsible for the death of a President that only the voters of the United States had a right to remove from office. There are distortions, deletions, and misstatement of facts in this book, but I would read it anyway. You simply have to decide for yourself what is true and what is not true. Thank you for reading this review.

Richard C. Stoyeck
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on June 1, 2012
For the most part, this is an enjoyable tale of the Kennedy years in the White House, and an excellent recollection of the sad days of November, 1963. There is some repetition in the book that could have been cleaned up.
But beyond that, this book is a vehicle for former Secret Service agents to defend themselves against dereliction of duty allegations in losing Kennedy. They turn the tables and blame the dead president himself for his own death, claiming that, in an insulting way, he ordered agents off of the back of his vehicle. The assumption seems to be, that had he not done that, he would have been saved on November 22, 1963. This allegation holds no water and is an abomination. Beyond that, the book is highly critical of Jacqueline Kennedy for determining to walk eight blocks in the Kennedy funeral to the Church. She only insisted that she walk, others were afraid not to walk if she did. They could have ridden in a car. I think Mrs. Kennedy showed the nation that even after an assassination attempt, leaders of men should not hide.
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on November 6, 2010
I just finished reading the 448 page "Cover Your Ass" book by agent Blaine. As a former Secret Service Agent and the first African American to be appointed to the White House Detail, I was dismayed at the continued attempts by former agents to deny culpability in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The attack upon my credibility in the book, "The Kennedy Detail" was expected; but I was hoping that the former Kennedy body guards would show a modicum of contriteness in the book instead of trying to blame Kennedy's assassination on the President himself. Unlike the general reading public, I was an agent during the critical period on November 22, 1963. In my book, "The Echo from Dealey Plaza", I relate to the public what I saw while serving on the white house detail and the disrespect and hatred towards the President that I heard expressed by some of my fellow agents.

Although, Blaine refers my claims of racism in the secret service white house detail in 1961 as being unfounded, on page 25 of my book, I document by secret service file memo 3-11-602-111 the stark racism that prevented me from carrying out my protective responsibilities in Miami Florida. Mr. Blaine also states in his "cya" book that Agent Faison, who was the first African American permanently, assigned to the White House Detail in 1963 took issue with my "unbelievable" charges of racism in the secret service. If there was no racism in the secret service in 1963 then how is it that just eight years ago, 57 African American Agents filed a class action suit, (that is still pending in federal district court) charging overt racism by the agency.(see [...])?

Blaine and other agents can feed the public with the "cya" account of the secret service actions during the Kennedy area but I was there and was a witness to the incompetence, laxity of certain agents surrounding the president, the drinking and cavalier attitude among many of the agents on the detail, the references to President Kennedy as being a Ni---r lover and their disdain for his stand for racial justice and equal opportunity for All Americans. I was present among a few agents who were discussing the protection of President Kennedy in which the statement was made that if an attempt were made on the life of the President, they would take no action.

Blaine states in his book that I said that I discussed the conduct of my fellow agents on the detail with Chief James Rowley. I make no such claim. On page 45 of The Echo from Dealey Plaza, I specifically state that I discussed the problems of Kennedy's protection with Chief U. E. Baughman. I did not go to Rowley because I knew that he already knew of the conduct of the agents and would do nothing about it.

As far as agents being forbidden to ride on the special running boards of the presidential vehicle, that rumor was not circulated until "after" the assassination of the president. There was no official memorandum or other notification of such an order advising agents of this change in protective policy. This rumor is no more than a scandalous assertion put forth by agents who failed in their duty to properly protect the President of these United States.

Lastly, Blaine derides me concerning the Kennedy investigations that took place in Chicago during November, 1963; however, he has no knowledge of the chicanery that took place in the Chicago office of the secret service during that time. Unlike Blaine, I was there. I was there when in early November, 1963 the Chicago office of the secret service investigated a character named Echevarria. Echevarria stated that President Kennedy was about to be assassinated. I heard the investigating agent dictating the reports in early November, 1963. The investigation took place prior to the assassination in Dallas. On the afternoon of November 26, 1963, Inspector Kelly, SAIC James Burke,and representatives of the FBI had a meeting in the Chicago office of the secret service. Kelly and Burke were the lead investigators representing the secret service in Dallas prior to the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald. The Echevarria investigation took place during the first two weeks in November. I was there in the office when the reports that had already been dictated by the investigating agents and typed by the secretaries were rounded up and banded in a single stack in the office of SAIC Martineau. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these collected investigative reports were dictated by the agents PRIOR to the assassination of Kennedy. However, after Kelly and Burke ended their conference, these same reports were restructured and the dates of the investigation were changed to indicate that the Echevarria investigation was conducted AFTER the assassination and had reference to the concern for the protection of President Johnson as Blaine claims in his "CYA" book. I was there. I know what happened and Blaine may fool the general public, but he can't fool me.

Blaine refers to me as the convicted felon and uses that phrase in an attempt to discredit me and my autobiography, The Echo from Dealey Plaza. I may well be a convicted felon but I sleep well at night knowing that I did everything that I could do to save the life of President Kennedy. Can the agents standing on the running board of the follow-up car in Dallas, Texas and watching the president's head blown to pieces, say the same thing? I doubt it. They know the truth too.
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on April 13, 2016
A very interesting and informative book about the lives of the Secret Service Agents who worked to protect President Kennedy and his family , from the beginning . Told from one of the men who was there and worked with each one of these men, he tells of a lot of the background stories of the close relationships they all had with the Kennedy family , and the bonds they had with their fellow workers to provide the best possible protection and safety they could .
It tells of all the work and details that went into any type of outing the president had , and the trip to Texas was going to be huge, mainly because it was slated to be a 3 day trip with multiple stops , speeches , dinners, and the drives in between each of these events.
It tells of how the Advanced Leader went to Texas ahead of time to map out the routes, and try to time the drive precisely so they would stay on schedule for each of the events , and how he worried so much about the longest drive of all, the one in which President Kennedy was killed.
The book also tells of the immediate aftermath, the vicious rumors and finger pointing, and the blame that they felt for not fulfilling their duty .
They could have had 10 times as many men that day and it wouldn't have been enough to stop what happened .
If you ever wondered what is was like to be behind the scenes during those times, then read this book . A very pivotal moment in our history ,and I'm glad the story is finally being told by the men who were there and witnessed this all first hand.
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on February 9, 2013
Truthfully, I have little idea how wonderful something like this would have to be, to get 5 stars - I'm a newbie at the knowledge domain, so have little idea how much better something like this could have been written. Certainly, I got a LOT of insight that had been missing before I read it. Not only the history, but the insides of Secret Service Agents' heads. That I liked.
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on July 9, 2013
Once long ago there was a transition of power that seemed to change everything. Those of us who remember that time saw things from the perspective of the evening news or weekly magazines. This book takes us back to those days through the eyes of Secret Service agents sworn to protect President Kennedy. They tell what that experience was like outside the White House when they traveled with him as well as when he was inside the White House in the Oval Office or other settings. They describe the perils and threats they dealt with during his campaign for election and then as he set off for Florida and Texas on a whirlwind trip with his wife Jackie. It was her first and last campaign trip. The agents describe what they experienced leading up to that day in Dallas and those six seconds that ended President Kennedy's life. This book is gripping in that it deals with the experiences and feelings of the agents and others who were there amid the chaos that day and what they saw and heard. The chaos, the trouble communicating or getting reports even among themselves sounded eerily similar to 9/11. As I read this book I felt as if I was in that motorcade somewhere as an eyewitness to history as it happened instead of sitting on a school bus heading home from elementary school on a Friday afternoon in the rural Midwest in 1963.
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on January 23, 2013
I learned so much about a group of selfless individuals who may never get the proper respect in our world. The Secret Service collectively kept their mouths shut and thoughts and memories to themselves and buried deeply for almost 50 Years. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to know the real truth about November 22, 1963.
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on July 13, 2016
There is information that I believe that Agent Blaine has left and possibly lied about to release himself and some of his cohorts from culpability in JFK's assassination. I have read time and again that the president does not direct his own protection and Blaine's attempt at throwing the president under the bus is just lame. Look at pictures of JFK's protection in other cities prior to November 22nd and compare it to the lack of protection given to him in Dallas. Look at where almost all the agents were--surrounding LBJ's car. It was no secret that Kennedy was hated in Dallas; why not more and better protection than what he got? Even if there were a lone shooter, which many no longer believe, with the right protection, Kennedy would not have been hit; one of the agents would have. Wasn't it their job to take a bullet for the president if necessary? Agent Clint Hill was the only one to react when shots were fired; where were the others?

Although I found the book interesting in some sections, there's just too much blame placing on others. It was the agents' job to protect the president and they failed. I don't know if some of them disagreed with JFK's policies on race, Vietnam, etc. But that shouldn't matter. The Warren Commission Report was B.S. and former Agent Abraham Bolden was possibly framed for what he knew. There is more to the story than Blaine has written. President Kennedy was murdered six weeks after I was born. I am now 52 years old. It would be nice to know the truth about what really happened and the role that the Secret Service played in my lifetime.
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on May 26, 2013
This book is really a collection of the former secret service account of dealing with former president Kennedy. It answers a lot of questions, tells remarkable stories, and really makes you feel bad for what the service went through on the day of the presidents death.
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on May 9, 2013
I found the book to be an intimate look, not only into the life of the Kennedy's, but into the personal lives of the agents.
The comment to their jobs kept them away from their families. Trust was a valued commodity . I am grateful for their loyality to their country and the people they were charged with protecting.
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