The Kennedy Detail by Gerald Blaine and Lisa McCubbin: Book Review
by Gerald Blaine and Lisa McCubbin
Simon and Schuster
Buy from Indigo
Description: THE SECRET SERVICE. An elite team of men who share a single mission: to protect the president of the United States. On November 22, 1963, these men failed—and a country would never be the same. Now, for the first time, a member of JFK's Secret Service detail reveals the inside story of the assassination, the weeks and days that led to it and its heartrending aftermath. This extraordinary book is a moving, intimate portrait of dedication, courage, and loss.
Drawing on the memories of his fellow agents, Jerry Blaine captures the energetic, crowd-loving young president, who banned agents from his car and often plunged into raucous crowds with little warning. He describes the careful planning that went into JFK's Texas swing, the worries and concerns that agents, working long hours with little food or rest, had during the trip. And he describes the intensely private first lady making her first-ever political appearance with her husband, just months after losing a newborn baby.
Here are vivid scenes that could come only from inside the Kennedy detail: JFK's last words to his tearful son when he left Washington for the last time; how a sudden change of weather led to the choice of the open-air convertible limousine that day; Mrs. Kennedy standing blood-soaked outside a Dallas hospital room; the sudden interruption of six-year-old Caroline's long-anticipated sleepover with a friend at home; the exhausted team of agents immediately reacting to the president's death with a shift to LBJ and other key governmental figures; the agents' dismay at Jackie's decision to walk openly from the White House to St. Matthew's Cathedral at the state funeral.
Most of all, this is a look into the lives of men who devoted their entire beings to protecting the presidential family: the stress of the secrecy they kept, the emotional bonds that developed, the terrible impact on agents' psyches and families, and their astonishment at the country's obsession with far-fetched conspiracy theories and finger-pointing. A book fifty years in coming, The Kennedy Detail is a portrait of incredible camaraderie and incredible heartbreak—a true, must-read story of heroism in its most complex and human form.
The Good Stuff
- Compelling and authentic and extremely classy (no tell all gossip book here)
- Touching first hand accounts of the relationship between JFK and his staff and his family
- Good selection of photographs including a lovely candid one of JFK and his kids on Halloween
- The scene between JFK and his son is very touching when you realize this is the last time they will ever see each other. Made me cry -- for once at least I wasn't in a public place when I read it
- Enjoyed the little glimpse into how compassionate and how all to human JFK and his wife were
- The obvious love and respect that the agents had for each other and for their "boss"
- honestly just really interesting to learn about the inner workings of the Secret Service and of the men whose job it is to protect the president - just plain fascinating
- Extremely detailed descriptions of the days before and after the assassination
- The descriptions of the agents grief and their obvious feelings of survivors guilt and shame are very moving
- Touching stories about the relationship between the agents and JFK's kids before and after the assassination
- Why are you still reading my ramblings just go get the book - you know you want to.
The Not so Good Stuff
- Jumps around a little and I got lost a couple of times -- but hey I am a sleep deprived mom, you guys might not notice as much
- Sometimes I was a little frustrated with all the minute details - see above note
- Also, (and you should know one of my history teachers, Mr Centa was a HUGE conspiracy theorist and I had to attend tons of his presentations in high school so this stuff has been ingrained in me - I can't tell you how many times we had to see the Zapruder film) I sort of balked at the obvious plea for us to put our full trust in the findings of the Warren Commission (See the last quote in next section)
"The publishing of motorcade routes was a constant battle between the Secret Service and the president's political advisers. From the Secret Service standpoint, informing the public about the president's movements in advance was like inviting the fox into the hen-house, while the political folks looked at is as a necessity. From their views, the whole point of the motorcade was for JFK to be seen by as many people as possible."
"Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others - John F. Kennedy"
"Meanwhile, Godfrey was fuming. He couldn't wait to get out of the country. He turned to Rowley and said, "The Italians haven't changed since the last time I was here. The only difference is, now we can't shoot at 'em"
"I would be very pleased if the results of the Warren Commission and its investigation would be accepted as the final word. However, I know that the researchers, writers, and filmmakers who continue to question those findings will never accept those as the truth. The information presented by the majority of these people is theory, not fact. They were not witnesses to the assassination; have little or no knowledge of protective procedures; did not know the dedicated agents on this assignment; and simply were not in our shoes that day in Dallas."
What I Learned
- Fascinating details about the day to day challenges faced by members of the Secret Service
- How few Secret Service were actually in charge of protecting the president and how this has changed since
- Too many interesting historical tidbits to mention -- just go buy the book -- or of course ask your friendly neighborhood Librarian for a copy
- John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic to be elected president -- seriously I couldn't believe it either
- How little these guys actually got paid to put their lives on the line and how horribly boring it could be
- Really would have hated to be married to one of these guys
- I'm thinking serious conspiracy theorists will be totally put off by this one -- that's right Fox Mulder and Dr. Jack Hodgins this book is not for you (And cannot forget about you Mr Centa)
- History buffs and those interested in the Secret Service will definitely enjoy
- Definite must have for Kennedy junkies