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Standing Next to History: An Agent's Life Inside the Secret Service
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Standing Next to History: An Agent's Life Inside the Secret Service

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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  298 ratings  ·  46 reviews
Joseph Petro served for 23 years as a special agent in the United States Secret Service; eleven of them with presidents and vice presidents. For four of those years he stood by the side of Ronald Reagan.

Following his career as a Navy Lieutenant, during which he patrolled the rivers and canals along the Vietnamese-Cambodian border, he worked his way up through the Secret Se...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published January 1st 2005)
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Joe Habich
Jul 21, 2010 Joe Habich rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Joe by: My Wife
Shelves: non-fic
This book was very interesting. My brother is a police officer and as soon as I finished it I gave it to him to read. He always said he wanted to be in the secret service. This book has some great insight into what the Secret Service does for our Presidents, VP's and other dignitaries. I found Joe Petro's narrative to be captivating. I really enjoyed this book.
Bobharman
This is an excellent book, written by a man who's career was both as an agent and as a manager in the US Secret service for 23 years, the major portion of which was served at the White House. I have recently read another book, by a much better known aurthor, which was nothing but an expose of human foibles and was filled with embarassing information about many of the Presidents. His information may have been true, I don't know, but I think it should have been left un-said and private. That kind...more
Jenny Amfahr
It was so interesting to see the "inside" of the Secret Service. I was so saddened by his personal story, but the career was so great! It lacks a lot of political skewing, but still lets you into the Reagan oval office. Loved it.
Rob
It was a really interesting, behind-the-scenes take on what it is like to be a Secret Service agent. I think his admiration of Reagan kind of colors the stories about him, but it's an excellent (and quick) read.
Stacy
Really a 3.5 star book, rather than 3 stars. There are a lot of "wow" moments in this book which made it worth reading for me, but the overall style of the book makes it hard to rate it higher than 3.5 stars. There were many cool bits of info about the Secret Service and many interesting stories about the agent's time protecting various people (Ronald Reagan, The Pope, etc). However, it was almost too clinical at times. At one point he mentions his wife and daughter and alludes to the challenges...more
David E McClendon, Sr
This is a pretty interesting read. Petro gives us a glimpse at a side of the President few people get to see. It is also interesting to learn that there is a good deal of politics inside the secret service itself.
Petro gives us a glimpse of what Gerald Ford was like as a Vice President he later lets us see Ford as a President. We also get a little peak at Ronald Regan, my favorite President, and Pope John Paul II.

One thing I found kind of funny is a brief conversation that Petro and Regan had in...more
Howard
An easy read...especially for geeks like me who like reading about Secret Service, FBI, CIA, etc.
Kyle Oliphint
This is the book I wanted to read about the Secret Service. There is a deep credibility to the author`s telling, a sense of his professionalism, commitment and pride in his service. Mr. Petro wasn't "dishing the dirt", but was taking this reader into the history he lived. It seemed to me that he took great pains to be equitable, even charitable towards those he worked with, his counterparts from other countries and most especially those he had the privilege of protecting. I am grateful for his s...more
Michelle
Joseph Petro Served with the Secret Service for 23 years, 11 of those years he spent protecting presidents, vice presidents and other world leaders. I found this book fascinating with it's details of the working of the Secret service, the workings of other countries and most of all the dignity and honor some leaders showed even in their most "private" moments. This book was full of interesting quick looks into history and the many men and women it takes to protect our President. I defiantly enjo...more
Charis
Unlike a recently published book on a secret service agent's memoir, this story is less gossip and more a real life look at how agents do their jobs, whether or not they like the person they're protecting. Mr. Petro covers his time as President Reagan's agent, as well as protecting the pope and a host of other politicians. It is a fascinating look into a mostly hidden world - and a reminder of all the planning, training, work and vigilance that goes into protecting one person.
Lisa
I read this book in a day. I found it very interesting. He was very respectful of the Reagan's and of his co-workers. The "inside" information was interesting but nothing trashing anyone. He did let go a little about the Quayle's. I like this kind of insider bio and am fascinated with presidential history, so it was my kind of book. I found it very easy to read. There were only a few places where I had to go back and re-read a section to understand what he was talking about.
Michael
Very interesting insight into the Secret Service as well as Reagan and Quayle.
Elisif
I FINALLY finished this book. Not the best. Instead of telling us how he really felt, he spent too much time telling us how great everybody was that he worked with. BORING. However, it was punctuated with interesting tidbits from history, like Gorbachev visiting the US and excitedly buying a cowboy hat, but then putting it on backwards. Just barely interesting enough to keep me reading.
Jessica
I really love this book. Petro has some great stories. I think it would be really neat to work for the Secret Service.

The only issue with this book is that he expects you to have paied better attention to, or remembered more from, High School history classes. That not being my best subject, sometimes its a little confusing to track the names.
Glenn Dettwiler
Joseph Petro was in the Secret Service during a time that I remembered when I was with the Reagan Ranch detail.. His book is a true account of the service at that time. His account with the Reagan's brought back many fond memories... Unfortunately, the service has changed since its inclusion into Homeland Security and in light of recent events...
Josianne Fitzgerald
I picked this book out from the library for my husband, and I ended up reading it today when I couldn't find anything else. I was captivated from the beginning chapter. It's a collection of anecdotes, mostly, of the ex-SS officer, and it provides a glimpse into history.
Melissa
Very interesting book on the author's life experiences as a Secret Service Agent. It goes through his experiences with different positions, who he protected, and his journey along he way. This truly is a unique career choice with the utmost importance. Absolutely fascinating!
Jcpinct
A nice balance of first-account stories and tactics told by a former secret service special agent assigned to the protective details of Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and other famous officials. I'm definitely recommending this book to my family and friends.
Traci
Wow! This book was a great read. I learned sooo much about the secret service, which I found interesting. Plus I was quite young when Regan was president, but learned alot about him too in this book. Highly recommend this book to anyone!!
Tj Ingerson
A great read on what goes into protecting important figures, including the President, Vice President, the Pope. It provides a behind-the-scenes look at Joseph Petro's life in the Secret Service, and it surely was page turner for me.
Nova
The life of an agent is intriguing. To foresee danger and protect the president -agents are like heroes in this sense.

My favorite line is: "...To do absolutely everything possible to prevent such a decision from ever having to be made."
Bebe Burnside
A look inside the Secret Service told my an agent who protected Ronald Regan. Informative without being too technical and very human. You can't help but like Joseph Petro as you begin to get to know his story.
Mike
Overall, the material is good. If you have a more detailed interest in the Secret Service, I recommend Ronald Kessler’s book. However, this is a quick read and has a few interesting anecdotes about the Reagans.
Laura
Still reading this one, but it's fascinating. Inside info about the Secret Service and what it takes to guard the President, the Pope, etc. I was inspired to read it by my recent addiction to the West Wing.
Amanda
I really enjoyed this book. It's not one I would normally have picked, but I read it for book club. I definitely recommend it--I loved the history and the peek into the Secret Service.
Billjustbill
Very good "up close and personal" of what it's really like to be the number one person protecting the president of the US. If that's of interest, you should read this book!
Karie
I really enjoyed this book--it was a fascinating look at a side of White House life we rarely see. Petro's clear admiration of Ronald Reagan was endearing. Definitely a good read.
Deb Todd
Very interesting read. Ii remember all of the historical events the author discusses. I loved reading the behind the scenes account.
Jennifer Brandt
Loved this book! It's a quick read and if you are a Secret Service buff or are even mildly interested in it you will find it fascinating.
Melissa
Had interesting facts; more of my husband's style of book; enjoyed most of it; some parts just down right boring though.
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