Book Review: The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence by Gerald Blaine with Lisa McCubbin
The expression on the face of Miss Ola Cooper will forever be seared into my memory as she walked into our sixth grade classroom and announced that President Kennedy had been murdered in Dallas. Over the next few days of that surreal weekend, many images found a place in the minds and memories of people all over the world. I saw Lee Harvey Oswald gunned down on live (black and white) television. LBJ was sworn in as President, and later Mrs. Kennedy walked to the funeral service from the White House. And then there was the Zapruder film.
Special Agent Clint Hill was assigned to Mrs. Kennedy’s detail, which therefore accounts for his presence in Dallas on “That Day” (as the agents refer to it). Mrs. Kennedy seldom accompanied the President on political trips, and this was her first one since the death of their infant son, Patrick. Next to the image of my school teacher, the image that stands out most clearly in my memory is that of SA Clint Hill climbing onto the back of the limo to do his job. What doesn’t always show up in clips of the Zapruder film is that agent Hill helped Mrs. Kennedy back into the seat and then covered her and the President with his own body in case of more shots. He was doing his job without hesitation.
Although The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence was written by former agent, Gerald Blaine (with Lisa McCubbin — an award-winning journalist), it tells the stories of many agents on that assignment. Much of the book deals with Clint Hill and also the hard-fought emotional journey of their entire group in the years after the tragedy. As Blaine states in the trailer, the agents felt like they failed in their duty to protect the President. After a prologue by the author and a foreword by Clint Hill, the book is divided into four parts, each with several chapters. Each chapter begins with a quote from President Kennedy such as this one from chapter one, “The pay is good and I can walk to work.” Blaine continues with parts titled, “The Men,” “The Job,” “That Day,” and finally “Our Lives.”Continued on the next page