It hit me then that perhaps I had been looking at my assignment all wrong. I was serving the president, and the country, with an important task. I was responsible for protecting the things that were most important to him, personally- his wife and his children.
Special Agent Clint Hill had been in the Secret Service a little over a year before he was transferred from exiting President Eisenhower’s detail to entering First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s detail in November of 1960. He was upset at first, viewing the role as a demotion, but took his job very seriously and didn’t question his orders.
This was a lovely book; Clint Hill’s love and admiration for Mrs. Kennedy and her husband shines through every page, even when he is talking about the long hours and the weeks he went without seeing his own family. Despite being launched into the public eye by her husband’s political ambitions Jackie Kennedy craved privacy and independence. Clint tried to balance her wishes with the realities of her situation which forever bonded the two of them together. The two got very close together and he eventually became something of a personal assistant for her too- he did a lot of her shopping so she wouldn’t get bombarded by paparazzi!
Most of the stories are about her international trips, both official and unofficial, as well as her frequent stays outside of the confines of the White House to Glen Ora, Hyannis Port and Palm Beach. He also recounts her sense of humor and the loving relationship Jackie had with her children.
Hill also discusses the infamous trip the Kennedys took to Texas, a trip Jackie nearly skipped, in heartbreaking detail. While keeping a strong facade for Jackie, Caroline and John Jr Clint was privately dealing with his own personal grief surrounding the assassination of President Kennedy. He felt responsible for the death of JFK since he was right behind the car but Jackie clearly never blamed him. He stayed on her detail for an additional year, per her request, after LBJ was sworn in.
I’ve read a lot of books on and about the Kennedys, a lot- A LOT- of books on and about the Kennedys, but this was probably one of the best. Hill and McCubbin teamed up for another book focusing on the Kennedy administration as well as the other four presidents he served that I will most certainly be seeking out.
There are also a lot of fabulous photographs within the pages.