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

3.26 of 5 stars 3.26  ·  rating details  ·  2,688 ratings  ·  565 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...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 3rd 2010 by Crown Forum (first published August 4th 2009)
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Jeremy
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
Ryn
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...more
Lightreads
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...more
Jamie
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...more
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...more
Manny
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
Robin
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...more
Meri
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
Dawn
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...more
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...more
Susan
"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...more
Tony
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...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...more
Sarah
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
Matt
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...more
Jane
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
Robin
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...more
Zach
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 (...more
Kay
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
Lis
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
Pamela
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
Mark
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...more
Marci
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
Kb
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
Erneilson
The most interesting parts of the book were the insights into the presidents and their wives, describing who were the most human and open and thoughtful in regard to these civil servants who put their lives on the line, and who were selfish, hypocritical, adulterers, bald-faced tellers of lies, the worst people you can imagine. Their public faces are often a facade. Others, what you see is the real deal. I won't mention any names here, but I am glad that most of the people I voted for were also...more
Joshua Greer
A poorly written gossip book which barely tries to hide the author's political biases. The bottom line is that all of the recent democratic presidents were assholes and their wives entitled witches and all of the recent republican presidents were kind and generous down to earth men who were misunderstood.

The premise of "telling the true story" behind the veil of the presidency is a pathetic justification for this breach of trust which winds up being no more than a gossip rag turned into a book....more
Maria
This book was so promising. I found out about this while browsing around the Internet, and put it on my wish list. However, as I started reading, I was in deep regret.

It had a lot of interesting content, but it was filled with (for the lack of a better word) crap writing and absolutely horrible arrangement.

The chronology was driving me crazy. At one chapter the author would talk about Reagan and then after that would talk about Secret Service procedures that is completely unrelated to the previo...more
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