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The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency Hardcover – 2002

24 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Fine Communications; First Edition edition (2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567316867
  • ISBN-13: 978-1567316865
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,082,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 13, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book written about the history of the Secret Service. The author covers from the beginning of the agency to current day. The problem with this book is that it has many inaccuracies.
For example: The book lists individuals who are or were at one time receiving protection from the Secret Service. The author o doesn't seem to be aware that the Secret Service is still protecting LadyBird Johnson. The book also incorrectly states that Hillary Clinton's code name is "eagle". Chapter 7, which is about the internal setup of the Secret Service, is completely inaccurate. The author states in a footnote that some information may be outdated and that the Secret Service would not respond to the author's queries. So he still goes ahead and just makes up how he thinks the agency is set up based on interviewing agents that worked in the 70s and 80s. If you are going to read this book, skip chapter 7. It's more wrong than right. The book also gives the number of agents assigned to the Presidential Protective Detail that is not anywhere near the truth. The book talks about what the author calls, "the Secret Service's Watch List" and Watch Office. Disregard this information too. There are many, many more inaccuracies.
The problem with the book is that the reader does not know what is accurate and what is not. The author was too busy writing about unsubstantiated gossip instead of fact. He could have saved himself a lot of time and found out legally, what is the authority of the Secret Service and where does it come from. The author covers that for the Secret Service back in the 1860s, but he never mentioned it for today's Service.
The book also covers a lot of time second guessing incidents from the past. Although hindsight is 20/20, I don't have a problem the second-guessing.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John P Bernat on May 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The spirit was willing, but...

The idea: write a concise, frank, engaging history of the US Secret Service.

The obvious barriers: well, it's secret. Research might be a wee problem. Getting "the truth" a huge issue...

Less obvious: having a weak or incompetent editorial/fact checking staff. The editing here is just awful: typos, internal inconsistencies, needless repetition that slows down the narrative pace.

Frustrating: this could be an endlessly fascinating story, but you hit speed bumps. I kept envisioning all the agents standing on the running boards of the presidential limo getting pitched off when...
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By John G. Hilliard on March 23, 2004
Format: Paperback
I think the most important a perspective reader needs to know is that this book is about 95% Presidential protection and only 5% law enforcement regarding counterfeiting. For me that was great, because that is about the breakdown I wanted. With that out of the way there were a few issues I had with the book. First off there are parts that are dry and repetitive. If that does not bother you then the in depth view of the Kennedy assassination might push you over the top. I admit I was interested in this area as much as the next guy, but the author did get really into the weeds on protective issues that broke down that day. It just stopped adding value after some time and got close to a sermon. The author also had something against the Hersh book on Kennedy and kept bring it up.
The only other thing that disappointed me with the book is that they really did not cover much about the procedures and processes they use. Ok I know they can not give away all the secrets, but why could the author have not given me more detail about Presidential motorcades, hey those are public. What I did like is that the author was not shy about details about the Presidents and their families. I really liked the personal gossip bits tossed in here and there. The sections that covered which Presidents and First Ladies did not like protection and what they did to avoid it was interesting. The updated information after 9-11 was also a nice bit of info.
Lastly, I thought the author did a good job presenting a book that covered politicians that did not slip into one political side or another. The author was very even handed and I have no idea his political leanings are. He was also surprisingly hard, at times, on the Secret Service.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Charette on August 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book is a brief and cursory review of the history of the Secret Service (330+ pages simply cannot do this agency justice), but that's not what I'm choosing to focus on with this review. Instead, I'd like to comment on the absolutely terrible writing and editing of this book. I found it nearly impossible to read at times, due to overly complex grammatical choices by the author, absolutely terrible editing, and even some sections where the same sentences and paragraphs have been cut and pasted into multiple pages. The author overuses quotes, referencing them multiple times in completely different chapters, relating them to entirely different topics. The last chapter is a commentary and set of recommendations for the Service which (in my opinion) has no place in a historical re-telling of the Service's history. Who appointed the author to the head of the Secret Service restructuring committee?

Although you may (like me) be interested in learning more about the Secret Service, please, do yourself a favor and skip this book. There are far better texts on the topic, and frankly, this one is a waste of your time and money. It certainly was mine.
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