Saturday, December 11, 2010

Book Review: The Kennedy Detail

Title: The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents break their silence
Author: Gerald Blaine with Lisa McCubbin
Genre: History
Publication Date: 2010
Publisher: Gallery Books, NY
ISBN 978-1-4391-9296-2
Price: $28.00

Breaking of more than four decades of silence, the Secret Service Agent turned tell-all author attracts historians and Kennedy-fans with his compilation of government documents, agent stories and personal account of November 22, 1963. This is a story that begged to be told.

Agent stories place the characters in place and time. The men served their country not for the low wages but for inner reasons. Their lives were inextricably intertwined with the First Family, spending more time with Caroline and Jon than their own children. Their wives and children were bonded together in an effort to make up for the time their husbands were away. The agent life style deprived them of regular meals, regular sleep and perhaps, taxed their inner resources to a point that led to their failure of duty, it certainly left an opening for a mad-man to shot the president and alter the course of the country forever.

What draws many people to the story of the assignation of President John F Kennedy is the country’s grief that continues to this day. Children not yet born can identify the country’s optimism in the early 1960s: America had faced off with the Reds and won; we had launched machines into space; we were able to claim our greatest and dream of better things to come. The dreams were dashed that infamous Day in Dallas. American ideals best stated in JFK’s notable speech: Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country, were withdrawn into a societal caution and grief.

Jerry Blaine was there through the all the events that lead up to the assassination, the funeral and afterwards. While many of the other agents left the secret service feeling that they had failed, Jerry Blaine continued his career until retirement. His position within the organization allowed him to come forward at this time to tell the story of six seconds that changed the country forever.

The book is written in four sections: The Men, The Job, That Day, and Our Lives which fills in the picture of the president’s life in the early 1960s and the small intimate detail of agents who sole job it is to protect the president from harm. The Secret Service learned a lot in November 1963 that has benefited subsequent presidents and kept our Commander in Chief safe from madmen.

Readers will find new details to fill in the how and the why of the Kennedy assassination. The agent's personal stories create memorable perspective of a national tragedy.

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