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Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford Hardcover – May 3, 2016
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About the Author
Clint Hill is the New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Kennedy and Me and Five Days in November. A former Secret Service agent who was in the presidential motorcade during the John F. Kennedy assassination, Hill remained assigned to Mrs. Kennedy until after the 1964 election. He then was assigned to President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House and later to Richard Nixon, eventually becoming the Assistant Director of the Secret Service for all protection. He retired in 1975.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Walking Beside History
As a Special Agent in the United States Secret Service, I had the honor and privilege of serving five presidents—Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford—three Republicans and two Democrats. From my unique vantage point, I had the rare opportunity to observe the human side of these men—the most powerful men in the world—as each dealt with the enormous responsibilities and unforeseen challenges thrust upon them, and how their individual characters and personalities affected grave decisions.
My seventeen years in the Secret Service spanned the period that encompassed the U-2 spy incident; the Cold War; the Cuban Missile Crisis; the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy; the civil rights movement, riots and burning of major U.S. cities; the Vietnam War; Watergate; and the resignations of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew and President Nixon. In less than two decades, America went from being unquestionably the most respected and admired nation in the world to a country whose image had become tarnished by violence, scandal, and deceit.
It is interesting to note that of these five presidents, only Eisenhower had a normal run as president—elected by the people and serving two full terms. Kennedy was elected in 1960 by the slimmest of margins, and his term lasted just one thousand days, cut short by an assassin. Suddenly, the vice president became president. Johnson was reelected the following year, but when the demands of the office and the casualties of the Vietnam War became more than he could bear, he chose not to run for a second term. Nixon was elected in 1968, and again in 1972, but in the wake of the Watergate scandal, he became the first United States president to resign, in 1974. A year earlier, when Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned in disgrace, Nixon appointed Gerald Ford as vice president. Thus, upon Nixon’s resignation, Ford became president, never having been elected to the office.
It was a turbulent time, and there I was, in the middle of it all.
As with our two previous books, my talented writing partner, Lisa McCubbin, and I have attempted to bring history to life through my experiences. While Mrs. Kennedy and Me focused on my interactions with Jacqueline Kennedy, and Five Days in November detailed those tragic days surrounding the assassination, the Kennedy section in this book focuses on my observations of and interactions with President Kennedy. There is unavoidably some overlap, but the recollections of my years with Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford are revealed here for the first time.
There is no doubt that the assassination of President Kennedy was a defining moment for me, and it would affect me on many levels for the rest of my life. I was thrust onto the pages of history, but it has often bothered me that I would be remembered solely for my actions on that one day. For there was much that led up to that moment, and much that followed.
Like the five presidents I served, there were many things that influenced the decisions I made, the actions I took, the man I became.
It has indeed been an extraordinary journey.
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Top customer reviews
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The 60’s and 70’s were extremely turbulent decades for America’s presidency and it was the only time in our history when five presidents in a row over a span of 20 years failed to serve two full terms -- due to assassination, protests over an unpopular war, threat of impeachment, pardon of his predecessor’s crimes, incompetence. And Clint Hill was there an arm’s length away.
There is no hearsay, no editorializing, no opinion, no political point of view--only what he saw and what he heard as history unfolded before his eyes, and you feel like you are right there with him. He was there for the birth of a son, the death of a son and was splattered with a president’s blood. He felt Lyndon’s hot breath and the poke of his finger as he bullied and intimidated those around him.
He portrays how these men spent their private time, their leisure time, and how they treated the people around them. He reveals what it was like to be with Ike on the golf course, how JFK loved to sail and truly seemed to care about his family, how LBJ treated guests at his ranch, how Nixon’s paranoia lead to his downfall, how Ford’s decency calmed the nation. He saw how Eisenhower was worshiped as a hero around the world.
Mr. Hill sacrificed his own life, marriage, fatherhood, and emotional health to protect these five presidents. He witnessed the joys, triumphs, agony, disappointment, human frailty, ego, lust for power, and facilitators of the most powerful person in the world.
Thank you, Clint Hill, for all that you have done and for sharing your story with us in Five Presidents.
This is Clint Hill's story and it is peopled with all the names we have heard in the headlines, but on a human scale. He explains the passion Eisenhower had for golf but does not make it an attack on him. We learn about Lyndon Johnson from someone who walked right beside him daily. Of course there are more stories about Hill's years with Jacqueline Kennedy, a favored time of his career. And one is certain that Mrs Kennedy would approve the way he describes working with her and the president.
Lisa McCubbin is the co-author of this book and it is clear that she has magnificently set the tone and voice with which it is written. Selecting the stories to tell and shaping the narration has resulted in a grand book, which will resonate with all interested in a life of service to his country.
Bravo to both authors.
Most recent customer reviews
But overall a very good read!!!