Book Review – The First Family Detail by Ronald Kessler
December 20, 2014
As in a play, presidents, vice presidents, and presidential candidates perform on stage for the public and the media. What the nation’s leaders are really like and what goes on behind the scenes remains hidden. Secret Service agents have a front row seat on their private lives and those of their wives and children.
Crammed with new, headline-making revelations, THE FIRST FAMILY DETAIL: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents by Ronald Kessler tells that eye-opening, uncensored story.
Since publication of his New York Times bestselling book In the President’s Secret Service, award-winning investigative reporter Ronald Kessler has continued to penetrate the wall of secrecy that surrounds the U.S. Secret Service, breaking the story that Secret Service agents who were to protect President Obama hired prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia and revealing that the Secret Service allowed a third uninvited guest to crash a White House state dinner.
Now in this new book, Kessler presents far bigger and more consequential stories about our nation’s leaders and the agency sworn to protect them. Kessler widens his scope to include presidential candidates and former presidents after they leave the White House. In particular, he focuses on first ladies and their children and their relationships with the presidents.
From observing Vice President Joe Biden’s reckless behavior that jeopardizes the country’s safety, to escorting Bill Clinton’s blond mistress at Chappaqua, to overhearing First Lady Michelle Obama’s admonitions to the president, to witnessing President Nixon’s friends bring him a nude stripper, to seeing their own agency take risks that could result in an assassination, Secret Service agents know a secret world that Ronald Kessler exposes in breathtaking detail.
I picked this book up to read for Nonfiction November, but was late to the game on reading this one . When I started the book, I was immediately drawn in to all the tidbits I was learning about various presidents and their families as well as tidbits about Secret Service operations. Going back to the days of Richard Nixon, you will learn which presidents, first ladies, and first children were pleasant to work with, and which ones were considered punishment to be assigned to (I personally was surprised by some of the list makers). You discover some of the “dirt” that occurs in the White House, and what Secret Service agents are required to conceal in the name of national security. Throughout the course of the book, an overview of the structure of the Secret Service, its officers and departments, duties of the agents, and code names of those they protect are provided. You have the opportunity to learn about an organization that few people are well acquainted with.
Although I was initially drawn into this book, I became a little bored by the end. I found some of the information to be repetitive, and the book had very poor organization overall (the way it was laid out did not make much sense and did not flow well). I learned a great deal, but most of that occurred in the first half of the book. I would recommend this book if you are into gossip and scandal, and if you would like to learn more about some of the most politically powerful people in the world. However, if you find yourself starting to get bored, feel free to quit the book there – you probably won’t be missing out on much more after that.
Any books you recommend that provide insight on fascinating jobs or fascinating people?