The Kennedy Detail: JFK's Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence

The Kennedy Detail: JFK's Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence


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The New York Times bestselling and extraordinary true story of the critical events leading up to and following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, as told by the Secret Service agents who were firsthand witnesses to one of America’s greatest tragedies.

The Secret Service. An elite team of men who share a single mission: to protect the president of the United States. On November 22, 1963, these men failed—and a country would never be the same. Now, for the first time, a member of JFK’s Secret Service detail reveals the inside story of the assassination, the weeks and days that led to it and its heartrending aftermath. This extraordinary book is a moving, intimate portrait of dedication, courage, and loss.

Drawing on the memories of his fellow agents, Jerry Blaine captures the energetic, crowd-loving young president, who banned agents from his car and often plunged into raucous crowds with little warning. He describes the careful planning that went into JFK’s Texas swing, the worries and concerns that agents, working long hours with little food or rest, had during the trip. And he describes the intensely private first lady making her first-ever political appearance with her husband, just months after losing a newborn baby.

Here are vivid scenes that could come only from inside the Kennedy detail: JFK’s last words to his tearful son when he left Washington for the last time; how a sudden change of weather led to the choice of the open-air convertible limousine that day; Mrs. Kennedy standing blood-soaked outside a Dallas hospital room; the sudden interruption of six-year-old Caroline’s long-anticipated sleepover with a friend at home; the exhausted team of agents immediately reacting to the president’s death with a shift to LBJ and other key governmental figures; the agents’ dismay at Jackie’s decision to walk openly from the White House to St. Matthew’s Cathedral at the state funeral.

Most of all, this is a look into the lives of men who devoted their entire beings to protecting the presidential family: the stress of the secrecy they kept, the emotional bonds that developed, the terrible impact on agents’ psyches and families, and their astonishment at the country’s obsession with far-fetched conspiracy theories and finger-pointing. A book fifty years in coming, The Kennedy Detail is a portrait of incredible camaraderie and incredible heartbreak—a true, must-read story of heroism in its most complex and human form.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439192993
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 11/15/2011
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 193,884
Product dimensions: 6.38(w) x 9.02(h) x 1.16(d)

About the Author

As a Special Agent of the Secret Service on the White House Detail, Gerald “Jerry” Blaine had the privilege of serving three U.S. presidents during one of the most tumultuous times in American history. After resigning from the Secret Service following John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Blaine embarked on a career path with IBM Corporation and became a leading expert in high-level security, lecturing worldwide on the use of computers in Criminal Justice and Intelligence. In 1990, Blaine retired from IBM and joined ARCO International Oil and Gas in Dallas, Texas as the Director of International Security, Government Relations and Foreign Affairs. After retiring from ARCO in 1999 Blaine spent four years with Hill & Associates, an Asian-based consulting company, as a Senior Consultant, and finally retired from the corporate world in 2003. He now lives in in Grand Junction, Colorado with Joyce, his wife of more than fifty years. The couple has two children and four grandchildren.

Lisa McCubbin is the coauthor of four New York Times bestsellers: Five Presidents; Mrs. Kennedy and Me; Five Days in November; and The Kennedy Detail. A former television news anchor and reporter, she currently resides in the San Francisco Bay area. Visit her at

Clint Hill is the New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Kennedy and Me and Five Days in November. A former Secret Service agent who was in the presidential motorcade during the John F. Kennedy assassination, Hill remained assigned to Mrs. Kennedy until after the 1964 election. He then was assigned to President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House and later to Richard Nixon, eventually becoming the Assistant Director of the Secret Service for all protection. He retired in 1975.

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From the Publisher

"An important contribution to Kennedy assassination literature because it presents in riveting detail the assassination from the agents' perspective and describes the lifelong emotional burden the agents endured when their best efforts were not enough." —-Library Journal

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The Kennedy Detail: JFK's Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 334 reviews.
JAHunsinger More than 1 year ago
The Kennedy Detail, ISBN 978-1-4391-9296-2, Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 427-pages, by Gerald S. Blaine: is the first comprehensive look into the thoughts and actions of the Secret Service agents who were tasked with protecting President John F. Kennedy over the months leading up to that fateful day, November 22, 1963, in Dallas, TX, when those who were present in the motorcade bore first-hand witness to the assassination of the President. These men were there, they did not acquire their knowledge from dusty public archives or the Internet, as some so-called experts have done, rather they were eye witnesses before, during, and after an historic event that has captured the imagination of people the world over. Blaine's story is told in the third person narrative, a relatively uncommon form, but in this case it allows the author to be a participant, which he was, rather than just the teller of the tale. The author's research was exhaustive, obviously entailing correspondence and telephone conversations with his compatriots, along with extensive travel to personally verify details with his respondents. Rather than dry historical verbiage, Blaine weaves the recollections of actual conversations between the agents and members of the first family into the sequence of historical events, making the narrative character-driven. As the stage is set the reader is made aware of the daily details that can only result from eye witness accounts compiled from notes made by the agents, as well as their collective memories, at the time of occurrence. As a result, the reader will acquire details and insight into the personal lives of the first family and the agents of the Kennedy detail that have never before been available as the author builds momentum toward the inevitable conclusion. Not everyone will like this book, for it refutes much of the flawed information that has resulted after the fact. The author does not address any of the resulting conspiracy theories arising from the event; for that is not his purpose. Rather, he conveys the deeply personal feelings, honor, integrity, and heart wrenching sense of guilt carried by the agents of the President's detail over almost half a century. His desire to tell their personal story is precisely his stated reason for writing about the event that has haunted the members of the Kennedy detail for most of their lives. And he does it well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I've ever read about the JFK assassination. I should know because I think I have them all! I couldn't put this book down. No conspiracy theories here. Just the truth from the honorable men who were there and witnessed this horrific murder. A must buy for anyone who remembers where they were the day it happened.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The exquisite detail from the men who were closest to the Kennedy family makes this book an engaging read. It reads like a novel and brings tears to your eyes when you feel the emotion of the agents who were there during this historic time.
ShellyTX More than 1 year ago
This book provides a new perspective on the JFK assassination. It is well written with a unique insight from the agents whoe were actually there. It provides a sneak peak into the life of a Secret Service agent as well as an honest and courage account of the time surrounding the assassination. The Kennedy Detail is moving and makes it hard for the reader to put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book was very interesting and took me back all those years ago, when I was just in grade school. The author explained everything with compassion and great insight. I was very pleased that he didn't go into the "bad" issues about the Kennedys.
Magnolia409 More than 1 year ago
This book is a gripping and moving account of the behind the scenes work that Secret Service agents do on a daily basis to keep our nation intact by protecting the President of the United States. I learned so much from this book and literally couldn't put it down. I fell in love with the "characters"--REAL men, the likes of whom I daresay do not exist any more. Do not hesitate to buy this book and give it as a gift to everyone you know. Obviously anyone who gave this book a low rating is doing it for some unknown vengeful reason, or simply to promote their own despicable self-interests. Anyone with a heart will find this book irresistible and truly UNFORGETTABLE.
motor2me More than 1 year ago
The most truthful account of the Kennedy assassination I have read to date. Until you have walked in these heroes shoes you will never know the ordeal they went through. As a retired law enforcement officer the authors were right on the money re: procedures, protocol, etc. when it came to their daily activities. I can't wait to shake their hand when and if they ever come to my town. These are true heroes!
KenCady More than 1 year ago
For the most part, this is an enjoyable tale of the Kennedy years in the White House, and an excellent recollection of the sad days of November, 1963. There is some repetition in the book that could have been cleaned up. But beyond that, this book is a vehicle for former Secret Service agents to defend themselves against dereliction of duty allegations in losing Kennedy. They turn the tables and blame the dead president himself for his own death, claiming that, in an insulting way, he ordered agents off of the back of his vehicle. The assumption seems to be, that had he not done that, he would have been saved on November 22, 1963. This allegation holds no water and is an abomination. Beyond that, the book is highly critical of Jacqueline Kennedy for determining to walk eight blocks in the Kennedy funeral to the Church. She only insisted that she walk, others were afraid not to walk if she did. They could have ridden in a car. I think Mrs. Kennedy showed the nation that even after an assassination attempt, leaders of men should not hide.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The conspiracy writers have made a name for themselves even if they were not there at the time. They always ask questions in interviews that will satisfy their objectives,rejecting any other view true or not. Only eyewitness accounts tell it like it happened and they for sure needed to know what truly happened for future security of our leaders. None of them made a name for themselves from the telling of theories. In every situation of high profile events we find those that want to make a name for and collect fame for themselves on the tragic event. This one was no stranger to those who milked the system and the hearts of the people for their own benefit confusing the truth in the minds of the people. We are so pleased that the eyewitness accounts of those closest to the President finally broke their silence. This one should go to the top of the list of history taught to our youth and to our adults who care. This was a magic time in history and this book outlines it so beautifully. Thanks to all who participated in the writing and telling for future generations to know truth from the men who were there in the midst of the event. Bless you all
ND-Walker More than 1 year ago
Growing up during the Kennedy era, one has always suspected a conspiracy theory surrounding John F. Kennedy's death. This book puts to rest those thoughts. A great insight into the behind the scenes of JFK and his family as well as the secret service agents that protected them on a daily basis. Great detail and insight. Loved it.
Susan Tresco More than 1 year ago
There was a special on the History channel (or HBO) that interviewed some of the Secret Service men. They were visibly upset. After reading this book I know why. I want to see that documentary again to put this in perspective. Next week there will be a release of interviews that were done by the First Lady after the assination. This would be a great read before listening to those interviews. Worth your time money. Buy it!
LulubelleKC More than 1 year ago
*It was nice to hear the view of the Secret Service Men who protected JFK. At one point in my life, I to thought they might be involved in the conspiracy theories. Although the Kennedy Detail book did not answer all of my questions concerning that awful day in November of 1963. It did give me insight as to how the Secret Service honored and care for the President. Not to mention the respect and care, I believe they held for each other and the Kennedy family. We can all look back on our life experiences and say "I should of, would of and could of handle that situation differently". And, I know these poor men beat their selves up every day of their life for what they could have done. One point that I think wasn't listed in the book was how the Secret Service were also caught up in the overwhelming excitement and experience of that day. I think they wanted the people of Texas to love this man as much as they did. I do believe that the President did tell them in Florida, to back off limousine. It is possible the feel of this order carried over to the Motorcade in Texas without the actual wording. Nonetheless, the Secret Service Men did the best they could for what they were dealing with at that time in their lives and ours. This book helps us understand how they dealt with protecting the President and the struggles of being a Secret Service Man of this era. Thank You Clint Hill for your honorable service.
DannyDH More than 1 year ago
People will enevitably reach their own conclusions surrounding the suggested conspiracy theories that have been prevelent in society since that fateful day in Dallas. I have visited Dealey plaza on two seperate occassions and toured the museaum of the book depository. After reading this account of the weeks up to the shooting and the years following I have finally put to rest in my own mind that there was no conspiracy and that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Thanks to Gerald Blaine and others on the Kennedy Detail this account provides a much more realistic recollection of what happened that day. This book may not convince everyone but it certainly helped ease my anxiety and curiosity over the issue.
ScarlettJP More than 1 year ago
A must read for everyone who lived thru the events of the assassination, and for anyone else interested in the history of the period.....The book reveals previously unknown details about the Kennedys, their lives, and relationships to each other and their friends....It also gives precise details of the shooting&clears up controversial issues.around those days in November.....One cannot help but increase respect for our Secret Service&its unbelievable burdens.....Scarlett..
DeanoBD More than 1 year ago
A very well written book that tells the true story of the heros who did their best.
taterzngravy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Kennedy Detail is well-written and believable book about the presidency and assassination of John Kennedy. The book is written in third person so it can be read as a book from the perspective of many of the Secret service agent. Though we see alot of Mr. Blaine in the story, it is the inclusion of Clint Hill's story that infuses the story with personal drama. It was enjoyable to read a story of this event in which the only motive was to present a personal account of what happened that day.
susanmaj67 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this book because it told you about how the secret service works and it also told you things about the Kennedy family like Jackie smoking secretly and made them seem like everyday normal people and not just the icons they were known as. It was also the first time I had read a written account about the day of his assasination not just viewing video of what was shown on the news.
mountie9 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Good Stuff * Compelling and authentic and extremely classy (no tell all gossip book here) * Touching first hand accounts of the relationship between JFK and his staff and his family * Good selection of photographs including a lovely candid one of JFK and his kids on Halloween * The scene between JFK and his son is very touching when you realize this is the last time they will ever see each other. Made me cry -- for once at least I wasn't in a public place when I read it * Enjoyed the little glimpse into how compassionate and how all to human JFK and his wife were * The obvious love and respect that the agents had for each other and for their "boss" * honestly just really interesting to learn about the inner workings of the Secret Service and of the men whose job it is to protect the president - just plain fascinating * Extremely detailed descriptions of the days before and after the assassination * The descriptions of the agents grief and their obvious feelings of survivors guilt and shame are very moving * Touching stories about the relationship between the agents and JFK's kids before and after the assassination * Why are you still reading my ramblings just go get the book - you know you want to.The Not so Good Stuff * Jumps around a little and I got lost a couple of times -- but hey I am a sleep deprived mom, you guys might not notice as much * Sometimes I was a little frustrated with all the minute details - see above note * Also, (and you should know one of my history teachers, Mr Centa was a HUGE conspiracy theorist and I had to attend tons of his presentations in high school so this stuff has been ingrained in me - I can't tell you how many times we had to see the Zapruder film) I sort of balked at the obvious plea for us to put our full trust in the findings of the Warren Commission (See the last quote in next section)Favorite Quotes/Passages"The publishing of motorcade routes was a constant battle between the Secret Service and the president's political advisers. From the Secret Service standpoint, informing the public about the president's movements in advance was like inviting the fox into the hen-house, while the political folks looked at is as a necessity. From their views, the whole point of the motorcade was for JFK to be seen by as many people as possible.""Tolerance implies no lack of commitment to one's own beliefs. Rather it condemns the oppression or persecution of others - John F. Kennedy""Meanwhile, Godfrey was fuming. He couldn't wait to get out of the country. He turned to Rowley and said, "The Italians haven't changed since the last time I was here. The only difference is, now we can't shoot at 'em""I would be very pleased if the results of the Warren Commission and its investigation would be accepted as the final word. However, I know that the researchers, writers, and filmmakers who continue to question those findings will never accept those as the truth. The information presented by the majority of these people is theory, not fact. They were not witnesses to the assassination; have little or no knowledge of protective procedures; did not know the dedicated agents on this assignment; and simply were not in our shoes that day in Dallas."What I Learned * Fascinating details about the day to day challenges faced by members of the Secret Service * How few Secret Service were actually in charge of protecting the president and how this has changed since * Too many interesting historical tidbits to mention -- just go buy the book -- or of course ask your friendly neighborhood Librarian for a copy * John F. Kennedy was the first Catholic to be elected president -- seriously I couldn't believe it either * How little these guys actually got paid to put their lives on the line and how horribly boring it could be * Really would have hated to be married to one of these guysWho should/shouldn't read * I'm thinking serious conspiracy theorist
sallylou61 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Kennedy Detail by former agent, Gerald (Jerry) Blaine with journalist Lisa McCubbin, is a fascinating book which explains in detail the workings of the Secret Service during the Kennedy administration. The daily life of the Secret Service agents covering the Kennedy family is shown. One is impressed by the amount of work the agents had; they often worked numerous hours per day without time for eating meals or getting sufficient rest. They had very little time with their own families.The Secret Service followed a strict code of behavior which included not criticizing decisions made by Kennedy or his political advisors ¿ some of which made guarding the President extremely difficult. This account describes both the advance preparations which went into various trips of Kennedy, particularly to Florida in mid-November 1963 followed by the fatal trip to Texas, and how these preparations were carried out.Kennedy¿s assassination was considered to be a failure of the Secret Service. The toll which this event had on the lives of some of the agents is described. Clint Hill, the agent responsible for guarding Mrs. Kennedy, who climbed on the back of the presidential car following the shots, did not reach closure until many years later when he visited the museum in the building from which the shots had been fired, and realized that he could not have saved the President.
busyreadin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent Read. Very interesting look inside the Secret Service. I'm a child of the 60's and I almost couldn't get thru the chapter dealing with the assasination! Even after all these years it still is heartbreaking. But as hard as it was for we the general public, it is almost unbearable to read of the aftermath in the closed world of the agents. To think that in 40 some odd years they had never discussed even among themselves the feelings of failure, the sadness, the truths is unbelievable.I would recommend this one especially to those whose hearts were broken in 1963
ewhatley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this book as a LT Members Giveaway. This is an inside look at the men who protected the President and his family. It not only covers the assasination, but also gives us a look at the day to day lives of these men throughout their service to Kennedy and how they interact with each other and those they protect. Even though we've heard so much about the Kennedy assasination over the years (I was 16 when it happened), there is information in this book that has never been released. Very interesting read. I highly recommend it.
jmgallen More than 1 year ago
“The Kennedy Detail” is the story of the men who guarded President John F. Kennedy and his family during their White House years. It is the story of the challenges, the threats, the successes, failures and lives of the men who made up the detail. It is not a tell all insight into sordid details about the lives of its protectees. Although focusing on the road to Dallas, it does include the easy relationships between protectors and protected, with a bit of humor thrown in, such as when the President told one agent “I hear you did not vote for me” and then laughed as he walked away. After the Service’s greatest failure, it follows the men as they transitioned to a new president, a former first lady and, for some of them, new lives and occupations. The examination of Dallas begins the realization that the 1964 campaign was beginning in Florida and Texas in November 1963. The long motorcades and presidential instructions to keep the men off the running boards set the stage for the tragedy when the President, riding in an unprotected car, was just out of reach of the men who might have been able to save his life. This story is told from the agents’ perspective and defends their record. Conspiracy theories are raised only to be disproven. I believe its facts to be accurate and, if they are, they provide an enlightening insight into the task of defending President Kennedy and an appreciation for the efforts made by the men of “The Kennedy Detail.”
B-loNY More than 1 year ago
The story is in the details
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Of course they're going to blame everyone but the TRUE culprit... the guy with the M-16 in the car behind the President's limo.