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The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents Hardcover – August 5, 2014
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About the Author
Ronald Kessler is the New York Times bestselling author of The Secrets of the FBI, In the President's Secret Service, and The CIA at War. A former Wall Street Journal and Washington Post investigative reporter, Kessler has won eighteen journalism awards, including two George Polk awards, one for national reporting and one for community service. He was named a Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian magazine. Kessler lives in Potomac, Maryland with his wife, Pamela Kessler.
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To accomplish their mission Secret Service agents must work in close proximity to all their protectees, becoming a part of their lives on a daily basis. This gives the agents a clear window through which to observe their personalities and character. Revelations from some of the agents indicate that what transpires in their clients' private lives may not comport with the image that they desire to show to the public.
As examples, the book describes how a number of protectees were especially "nasty" to the agents and their own staffs: Bill and Hillary Clinton, Nancy Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Al Gore.
Especially friendly and respectful to agents were Ronald Reagan, Bush 41 and 43 and their wives, Dick and Lynne Cheney and Mitt and Ann Romney. The sexual proclivities of LBJ, Bill Clinton (both inside and outside of the Oval Office) and Gary Hart are portrayed as important character issues. Some revelations are surprising, such as the preference of Joe Biden to swim naked in his home pool while being closely guarded by female agents. Many other observations of family members are also related, Including some of their drinking habits. Tension with the children of protected families seems to be prevalent in many cases.
Another focus of the book is an analysis of the management of the Secret Service. The author describes and details the incompetence and corruption of senior management that has resulted in poorly trained agents with very low morale, lack of leading-edge technology and weaponry to discover and eliminate threats, and in some cases a demonstrable lack of concern about national security. Prior lapses in standard procedures have resulted in the assassination attempts on presidents Reagan and Ford, and have put more current presidents in grave danger. After a number of recent scandals involving penetration of the White House grounds by dangerous perpetrators, the author ridicules president Obama's decision not to bring in a new director from the outside to replace the one who was fired, as he believes that as a result there will not be any change in the dysfunctional culture at the top.
Although I lean conservative, I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I was eager to read this book because it interests me how the 'anointed' really live their lives. Opposite my expectation, I did not get the impression that this book's sole purpose was to bash one political party or the other. For example, the Obamas are generally portrayed in a favorable light, but not all good. The same is true of the Bush family. I do believe the author reported accurately what the Secret Service agents revealed to him. It seems that the book has two purposes. First, to expose the true character of our elected officials. And second, to expose how the Secret Service management makes bad decisions which ultimately puts protectee lives in danger. Not that it was wrong, or bad, but one thing that did not grab my interest were the parts that delved into the inner workings of the Secret Service.
This is mostly an easy read. However, in a couple of places in the book the author follows a couple of rabbit trails and then abruptly snaps back to the original subject. I found that to be hard to follow and a bit frustrating, which is why I took one of the stars away.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, and learned a few things. What more could you ask for? I will be recommending this book to my friends.
This book itself, like the 1st book which I read first, contains a lot of interesting information and stories about our presidents, their families, the vice presidents, etc. The writing, unfortunately, bounces around a lot, so you have to pay attention about when and whom he is writing about. But, it's worth reading.
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