This week’s review: In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect, by Ronald Kessler (2010 paperback reprint).
Short review: Highly recommended, with relatively short chapters and entertaining “behind the scenes” anecdotes about the Secret Service and U.S. Presidents from Abraham Lincoln to Barack Obama.
Available on Amazon.com in hardback, paperback and Kindle editions. Longer review below the fold. I’m a fan of narrative nonfiction, particularly anecdotal narratives with a sense of humor, and Kessler delivers on that score. He weaves true stories from the front lines of the secret service with sections explaining the history, training, techniques and equipment used by Secret Service agents throughout the history of the corps. The book is informative without ever becoming dry, and it provides an “inside glimpse” into the lives of the Presidents through the eyes of the men and women charged with protecting their lives.
Several stories made me laugh (particularly the one about Johnson’s peacocks) and even though I don’t read much modern American history, I found the historical elements very interesting. Kessler definitely targeted a mainstream audience, and the book will appeal to casual readers as well as history buffs. If you like a good story, you’ll find this a solid choice.
I recommend the book not only for avid readers but also for people with only short periods of time in which to read. Relatively short chapters, subdivided into even shorter anecdotes, make In the President’s Secret Service the kind of book that can be read in a single sitting but also picked up and put down easily without losing the narrative flow. If you need a gift for someone who likes to read but doesn’t have much time, this is a very good choice.