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In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect

3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  3,316 ratings  ·  615 reviews
Never before has a journalist penetrated the wall of secrecy that surrounds the U.S. Secret Service. After conducting exclusive interviews with more than one hundred current and former Secret Service agents, bestselling author and award-winning reporter Ronald Kessler reveals their secrets for the first time.

• George W. Bush’s daughters would try to lose their agents.
• Ba
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 3rd 2010 by Crown Forum (first published August 4th 2009)
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How do I describe a book in which some of the substance was interesting yet was so poorly written? While there were some interesting stories about presidents and other protectees, most of the material is simply gossip from disgruntled agents. I'm sure Kessler believes he's writing some kind of scandalous expose, but really he's just regurgitating the universal complaints that go with the territory of federal civil service. The technical chapters are terribly boring and stylistically, the book is ...more
An interesting and important book written by the absolute wrong person. There's all this great history of the Secret Service, assassinations thwarted and succeeded, criminal investigations, a scathing indictment of service management and how it treats its people.

…And then the other half of the book is gossip about protectees. Because, yes, okay, he acknowledges the Secret Service has a code of silence so that protectees will trust them, which is important for maintaining safety. But telling the
The humongous, full title of this book by Ronald Kessler is "In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect." And as the title suggests, it aims to tell the secret story of the equally secret service, gleaned by meticulous research, high quality reporting, cross-referencing each story with multiple sources, and maintaining a tone of level headed objectivity without taking sides.

Ha ha, no. Seriously. No. While it's true that Ke
I don't think this book should have been written. The author justifies breaking the code of silence in the form of a book by saying we deserve to know the real personalities of the presidents and their families since they are elected officials. Everyone has a right to privacy. With that being said the stories were interesting.
Political biased does play a part in this story with more consrervitive leanings. It also contains a lot of ranting about the administration of the secret service. I felt
Alyce (At Home With Books)
I read In the President's Secret Service while riding in the car on vacation with my husband. He can always tell when I am finding a book to be interesting because I will stop every few pages and tell him little tidbits from the book. So that's what I did for our entire drive while reading this book (which I'm sure drove him crazy).

Most of what I knew about the Secret Service prior to reading this book had been gleaned from watching episodes of The West Wing, and movies such as In the Line of Fi
Very interesting book on the "inside" of the Presidency. I was shocked at how the presidents passed and present were very different than their public persona. It was equally, if not more shocking, the opulence this person and his family lives in during their term as POTUS. Albeit ONE of the highest positions in the representative republican government we live in, the POTUS lives a life that can only be envied by royalty. This sadly is much of the driving force behind most of the candidates as of ...more
Carole Tremblay
From the assassination of Lincoln to Kennedy’s fateful trip to Dallas, author/journalist Kessler plunges the reader into the super-charged atmosphere of the President’s Secret Service. No more secret are the code names and the personal foibles of people the public thought they know well.

But this non-fiction book is not just a page-turning “kiss and tell” story of the unofficial dallying of recent presidents and the silent collusion between agents and “protectees”. It is the result of extensive i
Two and a half stars, really.

Chatty and gossipy -- What I was in the mood for today. Some of it is TMI. I do not want to hear about LBJ's bowels (or balls) or JFK's infidelities or the super-private bits of any other politicians known by their initials. But I am really interested in the fine line between free speech and voicing an actionable threat against the president.

Rather than an exploration into the methods and philosophies of the Secret Service, this is a repetitious whine about president
For someone with a ton of books, Ronald Kessler is a really shoddy writer. I felt like I was being rambled at by an unbalanced person. The writing takes no real direction: he'll spend a couple of paragraphs talking about President Carter, then jump to a description of the different formations secret service members use, then back to Carter like he never left off. He also has a very unfortunate need to wax philosophical about the structure of the secret service and lack of funding. Incessantly. W ...more
This book basically covered three topics. It skipped around among all three throughout the chapters, so it wasn't the most coherent book. It was part informative, covering the specifics of being in the secret service. That was the most interesting part to me. It also was gossipy, giving the "inside scoop" on the various presidents and VPs and their families. Of course, you can't really know if he is telling the truth. I was a little bit skeptical of all those parts.

Finally, the author complaine
Geri Spieler
Feb 10, 2010 Geri Spieler rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one. It is not well written or well researched
Recommended to Geri by: Part of my book review assignments
In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect
by Ronald Kessler
(Crown Publishers, November 2009)
The people who serve in the United States Secret Service seem to live in an alternate universe. They stand erect, almost motionless and devoid of any facial expression. Their astringent demeanor is all that is necessary to broadcast their purpose for being who they are, why they are, where they are.
These are men and women who rep
"In the President's Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect" looked like a juicy read, and a lot of it was. As the cover states, it takes you "behind the scenes with agents in the line of fire and the presidents they protect."

What did I learn? Lyndon Johnson was a real character - quirky, nasty to others, a womanizer. Nixon was odd. Ford was a gentleman, Carter was absolutely awful and not who his public persona suggested. Reagan was a ge
IN THE PRESIDENT’S SECRET SERVICE: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect. (2009). Ronald Kessler. ***.
I usually find that with a title this long, you usually don’t need to read the book. In this case, I was almost right. The author is a former reporter for both the ‘Wall Street Journal’ and ‘The Washington Post,’ and the author of several previous books. He was apparently on good terms with many of the agents who were members of the Secret Service and
For a road trip, we decided to listen to this audiobook because it sounded like it would be interesting. By the time we were 2 hours into the trip, I felt as if any validity was gone, and that I could not trust the book with being truthful, as Kessler's personal politics dominated. My husband, whose politics are different from mine, disagreed with me at first, but within one hour of the end of the book became so disgusted that he had to turn it off. I would have loved to read/hear these stories, ...more
Buck Jones
Definitely a timely book to read in the light of the recent Secret Service scandals that exploded in the news the past month. This book is easy to read - less than three hours - with a good variety of stories told from past Secret Service agents who worked the protection detail of US Presidents and their families. Some surprises here about who the individuals they most liked and least liked to guard and work around ... I won't give any spoilers away, except to say that by far the one they least ...more
Ruthanne Davis
A fascinating insight into the careers and challenges of being an agent in our Secret Service. Far more than guarding "protectees," their duties involve so much more. They are responsible for handling the search for counterfeiters and the tools that they use both for that and deciphering the threatening notes written to our leaders, are fascinating all by themselves. Imagine comparing 96 different types of ink for letter-writing!

But, of course, the most interesting part of their job and probably
I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I read this book--although I was skimming rapidly toward the end. In addition to my "compulsion to complete" characteristic (a fault in this case), it was a little like what it must be to watch a train wreck. The Secret Service being a favorite subject, I just kept hoping there would be a redeeming aspect to it but it only got worse with each successive chapter.

In summary, the writing is terrible--the same few thoughts are repeated multiple times throughout
Kessler chooses to focus his attention on one of the most public, yet secretive, branches of the US security family; the US Secret Service. Examining the US political scene before its inception and the early days of its creation (when the DC police handled the security of the POTUS) and into its more recent happenings (dealing with a post-September 11th security world), Kessler not only tries to shed light on the organisation, but also provide a behind-the-scenes look at what these men and women ...more
John Min
This here book's a real page turner. Amazing look at the protected (President, VP's, First family members) from the agents perspective. Starts out with a history of the Secret Service that is fascinating from page one and continues with assasinations and attempts, the lives and personas of the protected and what it takes to secure the President. They talk about the equipment, logistics and the manpower it takes for the President to travel. He finishes with a look at the problems facing the Secre ...more
Will Byrnes
Kessler offers two stories here. One is a protect-and-tell in which he lets the reader in on how many of the presidents, first ladies, and others who are protected by the Secret Service, behave in private. It is not at all graphic but reaffirms some notions we have of protectees and counters the image we might have of others. The personal unpleasantness portrayed is matched by nearly as many favorable portraits.

Kessler is a died-in-the-wool conservative, and this comes across. He clearly worshi
This was a very interesting book. It was written with the cooperation of the Secret Service. The author interviewed over one hundred current and former agents and directors. Many interesting tidbits are included about the 'protectees' .... Presidents, first family members, etc. There are candid comments about what the personal and security details thought of their protectees. Some were well liked, other were not; some were punctual, others not and examples or stories are related to illustrate ea ...more
Parts of this book were so good I didn't want to put it down. Yet, there were some parts that were so boring I skimmed the pages. There were some good insights into the Secret Service, and the history of the organization was wonderfully done. But, at times, the book took on a gossipy tone which, while fun to read, didn't really add much to the core content. On the other hand, that is probably what will move books because we have an unquenchable thirst for gossip about....well, everyone.

What I f
Pretty good. Though not exactly what I expected. Much of the book provide's "insider accounts" about the private lives of Presidents, their families, and other VIPs. Some of the stories are interesting, others come across as nasty back biting (this is not helped by that fact that most of the sources are anonymous, that is understandable to some extent, but in some cases it raises the appearance of back biting against a former boss).

Unlike similar books about govt. agencies and law enforcement (
I did enjoy this book on the 'inner workings' of the Secret Service. With the cooperation of the Secret Service, interviews from past and present agents gave us a small look at the different Presidents, their families and other political figures they have protected. Starting with Kennedy there's something about each president along with some Vice Presidents, a few Presidential candidates and a few of the Cabinet members of President Bush. [Tom Ridge comes across poorly] The author also relates h ...more
Dec 22, 2009 Lis rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any one who wants their eyes opened.
Really interesting (and worthwhile) read. Besides all the facts and interesting stories about the Secret Service itself, there is a plethora of interesting - and often infuriating - stories about the presidents they served. I'm one of those who think these stories should (and need to be) told. Why should we venerate men who treat their servants like crap, mock the people who elected them to office, and generally break every moral commitment that exists? It didn't surprise me to discover that Hil ...more
This book is definitely a good read but a little rough in the writing style. It is an eye opener although it is very pro little-man of the Secret Service. Kessler traces the work of the Secret Service from its beginnings with Lincoln to the current administration. Obviously, he has reached the every day agents because he manages to tell the inside dirt about various presidents and first ladies. All of this builds while he mounts a case for revamping the Secret Service. He cites example after exa ...more
This is the hardback equivalent of a tabloid newspaper -" listen as former Secret Service agents dish dirt on the First Families!!!" (For those keeping score at home, Nancy Reagan & Hilary Clinton are battleaxes, the Carters are standoffish & rude [and had the worst kid to protect:], and George H & Barbara Bush come off smelling like roses.)

Another theme of the book is horrible management of the Secret Service - logistics, staffing, preferential treatment, outdated equipment, etc. Si
I felt safer about my world before I read this book. Now, I truly fear for the safety of our President and other individuals protected by the Secret Service. My fear is not based on lack of agent dedication, but poor management practices within the Secret Service and outdated equipment. I have to admit that I enjoyed reading about the behavior of various presidents and their family members. It felt a little like I was reading a combination of People magazine and a history book. Having lived thro ...more
Hope Harris-Gayles
This book was interesting. The sample got me thoroughly intrigued, but then the first few chapters with some startling facts about Kennedy & Johnson almost turned me off. All in all an interesting book. I wonder about Mr. Kessler's politics since, the present Obama administration notwithstanding, all of the Democrats were terrible and the Repubs were wonderful (even Cheney so I REALLY doubt some of that). I feel like I learned a lot, and am more certain than ever that I'd never want to be a ...more
I'll admit, like I did with Cast Member Confidential, I picked up this book to get the dirt on former presidents. In retrospect, I don't see why I did. Kessler frames this book as some kind of public service, half geared toward getting our leaders to behave better and half geared toward getting Secret Service leadership to get their act together and improve working conditions to stem the unusually high turnover rate. I believe these are just token gestures to make it seem like this isn't simply ...more
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