Today as I drove the hour to and from Ft.Wayne’s NeuroSpine Unit at Lutheran Hospital, I finished listening to Mrs. Kennedy & Me written by Secret Service Agent Clint Hill. I purchase my audiobooks from Audible.com and listen to them on my Galaxy S smartphone. I enjoy reading memoirs and books of history, particularly American history, and this book did not disappoint.
Clint Hill was part of the Presidential Protection Unit for U.S. President Eisenhower. After President John F. Kennedy‘s successful election, Agent Hill was reassigned to Mrs. Kennedy’s Secret Service detail. At first Hill was very disappointed to be taken from a Presidential detail and assigned to the First Lady’s detail. He had mistakenly thought that he would spend countless hours on shopping trips, watching ballet and standing by as the First Lady would host tea parties. He was wrong. Oh! how he was wrong! Mr. Hill weaves fascinating insights into the first family’s life from the three years that he was assigned to Mrs. Kennedy while her husband was President. As the book unfolds, Hill reveals how he and Mrs. Kennedy connected on a personal, but professional, level. It was this close-knit relationship that would be put to the test in Dallas, Texas the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Hill tells of not only that monumental grief for the Kennedy family, but also the grieving that both President and Mrs. Kennedy faced with the loss of Patrick Kennedy, their new born son, just a few months earlier. Through tragedy and triumph, Agent Hill was by Mrs. Kennedy’s side. He was asked to provide the former First Lady’s protection after the assassination for the period of a year. When it came time for Agent Hill to move on to other protective services and governmental duties, Mrs. Kennedy threw him a “farewell” party in her New York City office. They parted as dear friends.
What really pulled me into the book was the fact that in the audiobook, Clint Hill reads the Introduction and the Epilogue. You can hear the anguish and emotion in his voice, it seems, as his gravelly voice relates his thoughts. The book is well-written. It is not a tabloid, sensationalistic secret-telling history. Rather, Hill reveals what it was like on a moment by moment basis to be a part of the First Family, even though he was a government employee. I thought it was well written and certainly it kept my attention.
On a personal level, and true to the six degrees of separation theory, I found in the Epilogue something in common that I have with Agent Hill. We’ve both shaken President Clinton‘s hand. I know, it’s a stretch, but it’s true. While Hill was invited back to the Oval Office to converse with President Clinton about some of the history he had with the Kennedys, I was able to shake President Clinton’s hand when he came to Warsaw, IN, campaigning for his wife in her presidential race against President Obama.
And now, not only do I share that moment, I share some of the thoughts, but never the anguish, of Agent Hill on his retelling of his time with Mrs. Kennedy. I suggest that if you enjoy history, particularly U.S. history, that you obtain a copy of this book. Read it, or listen to it as I have.