Summary of Five Presidents My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford by Clint Hill with Lisa McCubbin
Five out of five stars
Clint Hill was a long-time agent of the Secret Service assigned to protect U. S. presidents and some of the people around them. He is the agent that ran to the open car of President Kennedy after he was shot, putting his body between the assassin and the president. He worked with presidents Eisenhower through Ford, although he spent time in the detail protecting First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and Vice President Spiro Agnew. His perspectives on these people are an interesting look at how they functioned.
Although their mission is to physically intercept any bullet meant for the president and to essentially be an animated piece of furniture, the secret service agents observe a great deal. Therefore, any recollections that they have are an important addition to the historical record. This summary demonstrates that the book is a great human interest story, where the humans of interest are U. S. presidents and their immediate entourage.
The summary describes the personalities of the presidents in the time frame, from the aloofness of Eisenhower, he refused to learn the names of the agents protecting him, to Nixon, sending a secret service agent to spy on a political opponent.
The toll that such a job takes on an agent is also a fundamental component of the summary. Hill clearly suffered from post traumatic stress disorder as a consequence of the Kennedy assassination and he was gone from his family approximately 90% of the time. Therefore, he was an emotional loner, working a job where one has to be composed and alert at all times, yet having no close support group to damp down and dissipate the stresses.
This summary is a great synopsis of what it meant to be a macho secret service agent, where you must be prepared to sacrifice your life at any time in performance of your job. It is also a glimpse into the personalities of presidents and some of the people around them. Surprisingly, Spiro Agnew comes across as being a decent guy, teaching Hill to play cards so that could more easily pass the time on long flights.
This book was made available for free for review purposes.