The #1 New York Times bestselling memoir by Clint Hill that Kirkus Reviews called “clear and honest prose free from salaciousness and gossip,” Jackie Kennedy’s personal Secret Service agent details his very close relationship with the First Lady during the four years leading up to and following President John F. Kennedy’s tragic assassination.
In those four years, Hill was by Mrs. Kennedy’s side for some of the happiest moments as well as the darkest. He was there for the birth of John, Jr. on November 25, 1960, as well as for the birth and sudden death of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy on August 8, 1963. Three and a half months later, the unthinkable happened.
Forty-seven years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the one vivid image that never leaves Clint Hill’s mind is that of President Kennedy’s head lying on Mrs. Kennedy’s lap in the back seat of the limousine, his eyes fixed, blood splattered all over the back of the car, Mrs. Kennedy, and Hill as well. Sprawled on the trunk of the car as it sped away from Dealey Plaza, Hill clung to the sides of the car, his feet wedged in so his body was as high as possible.
Clint Hill jumped on the car too late to save the president, but all he knew after that first shot was that if more shots were coming, the bullets had to hit him instead of the First Lady.
Mrs. Kennedy’s strength, class, and dignity over those tragic four days in November 1963 held the country together.
This is the story, told for the first time, of the man who perhaps held her together.
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About the Author
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.
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 LisaMcCubbin.com.
Read an Excerpt
1 Meeting Mrs. Kennedy
It was with great trepidation that I approached 3307 N Street in Georgetown on November 11, 1960. I was about to meet the wife of the newly elected president of the United States, who I had just been assigned to protect, and I wasn’t looking forward to it at all. Being on the First Lady’s Secret Service detail was the last place I wanted to be. Looking back, I’m quite sure that Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was filled with even more anxiety about our meeting than I was. Neither of us had much choice in the matter. She could refuse to accept me—as she had done with the first agent assigned to her—but if I rejected the assignment, it would be the end of my career.
Just twenty-four hours earlier, I had been with outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower, as he played a post-election round of golf at Augusta National Golf Course. The fact that the Republicans had lost the election was still sinking in, and while the entire administration was about to change, one of the few things that would remain the same was the Secret Service. It had been a great honor for me to be on President Eisenhower’s Secret Service detail, and, while it would be bittersweet to see him leave office, I was excited for the challenge and experience of protecting the new president. It never entered my mind that my job might not be as secure as I thought it was.
There were just forty of us on the White House Secret Service detail—the elite team whose sole mission was to protect the president around the clock. We were not affiliated with any party or political group, and we were a tight group of men. The transition would require the Secret Service to adapt to the new president’s style, and even though I hadn’t yet met President-elect John F. Kennedy, it was obvious that protecting him was going to be a whole different ball game than it had been with Ike. We were going from a seventy-year-old former general who ran the White House with military precision, to an energetic forty-three-year-old Irish Catholic Democrat from Massachusetts with a lot of new ideas to take America into the 1960s.
I had been working the golf course with two other agents, and as soon as the president’s foursome finished the round, Jim Rowley, the Special Agent in Charge (SAIC) of the White House Detail, sent word that he needed to speak to the three of us. I had a feeling that this was probably my last game of golf with President Eisenhower and fully expected that Rowley was about to reassign the three of us to President-elect Kennedy.
When we walked into the office, Rowley explained that he had to shuffle the personnel in order to cover President Eisenhower, along with President-elect Kennedy, until the Inauguration in January.
First he addressed the other two agents, Jerry Blaine and Bill Skiles.
“Jerry and Bill, you’ll be on the president-elect detail. Mr. Kennedy is going to spend the next month and the holidays at his father’s estate in Palm Beach, Florida, so you guys need to get on a flight down there this evening.”
He warned that they would likely remain in Florida until the Inauguration, meaning they’d be away from their own families for Christmas and New Year’s, and suggested they have their wives arrange to get some warm-weather clothing to them. As I was listening to Rowley give Blaine and Skiles their new assignment, an uneasy feeling started to come over me.
Finally, Rowley turned to me and said, “Clint, Defense Secretary Tom Gates is here briefing the president and is returning to Washington shortly. I want you to fly back with him, then go to Secret Service headquarters and talk to Chief Baughman. The chief is expecting you.”
“Yes, sir,” I said with a nod. Why does Baughman want to speak with me? Why am I not going to Palm Beach with Skiles and Blaine? I had a dozen questions, but I would never question Rowley’s authority or decision: he was our leader. Still, I had a foreboding feeling that whatever lay ahead for me could not be good.
SECRET SERVICE HEADQUARTERS was located in the U.S. Treasury Building, right next to the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. I had never been in the chief’s office before, and in fact, had never personally met Chief U. E. Baughman, who had been head of the Secret Service since 1948. I was more than a little apprehensive when I checked in with his secretary, but I tried to sound as confident as possible.
“I’m Special Agent Clint Hill. Here to meet with Chief Baughman.”
“Yes, Mr. Hill, the chief is expecting you,” she said. “You may go on in.”
As I walked through the doorway into the chief’s spacious office, the first thing I saw was a plaque hanging on the wall that said: You ain’t learning nothing when you’re talking. Sound advice, I thought.
Then, as I looked around the room, and saw not just Chief Baughman but his deputy chief and an assistant chief as well as two inspectors, a feeling of dread suddenly came over me. The entire top echelon of the Secret Service was standing there, apparently awaiting my arrival.
“Come on in, Clint,” Baughman said as he moved toward me and shook my hand. “Have a seat and make yourself comfortable.”
His cordial manner seemed to be an attempt to help me relax, but I still had an uneasy feeling about why I had been summoned. After introducing me to the other men in the room, Baughman asked casually, “Clint, how long have you been in the Secret Service?”
“I started in the Denver Field Office on September 22, 1958, sir.”
“And when were you transferred to the White House Detail?” Baughman asked.
“Just over one year ago. On November 1, 1959.”
This is strange, I thought. Surely all of this information is in my file.
Baughman asked a couple of more innocuous questions, and then each of the other men began asking me things, all sorts of things about my past, both personal and professional, as well as my attitude about protective activities.
What did you do prior to becoming an agent? Where did you grow up? Where did you go to college? Are you married or single? Do you have any children? Do you swim? Do you know how to play tennis? Have you ever ridden horses? I answered the barrage of inquiries as honestly and candidly as possible, but each new question increased my anxiety, as I still had no idea what this was all about. My mind was spinning as I replayed the events of the last couple of weeks, trying to figure out what I could have done wrong, and though my stomach was in knots, I did my best to stay calm and composed.
At times, the men would go off into a corner of the room and confer, just out of earshot, so I couldn’t hear what was being discussed. I was thoroughly convinced that I was about to be fired. Why else wouldn’t I have been sent to Palm Beach?
The interrogation went on for nearly one and a half hours. One and a half hours in which I’d done all the talking, and just like it said on Baughman’s plaque, I hadn’t learned a damn thing.
Finally, Baughman said, “Clint, we have made a decision. You are being assigned to protect Mrs. John F. Kennedy. Jim Jeffries is the leader of the First Lady’s Detail and you’ll be his assistant.”
I was too stunned to speak. The First Lady’s Detail? Me? But why?
“Yes, sir,” I said. There was nothing more to say. I was relieved that I wasn’t being fired, but I was deeply disappointed that I wasn’t going to be with the new president.
Baughman told me to report to 3307 N Street Northwest, to the Kennedy home in Georgetown. Mrs. Kennedy would soon be arriving from Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.
My mind was spinning as I left the chief’s office. Why was I selected for this assignment? What actions or experience in my background caused them to make this decision? It felt as though I had been demoted from the starting lineup to the bench. From grade school to college, in all my years playing football, basketball, and baseball, I’d always been a star player, and now, in the most important game of my life, I’d just been kicked off the first team. I was devastated.
The more I thought about it, the more upset I became. I had been on the White House Detail for just over a year and had traveled with President Eisenhower on several unprecedented trips that took us throughout Europe, Asia, and South America. At the time, I was twenty-seven years old and had never flown in a jet aircraft. Having grown up in the high plains of North Dakota, I could never have imagined I would accompany the President of the United States to ancient cities I’d only read about in history books: Rome, Ankara, Karachi, Kabul, New Delhi, Tehran, Athens, Tunis, Toulon, Paris, Lisbon, and Casablanca. To top things off, I was issued a diplomatic passport, which allowed for preferential treatment, as if I were a dignitary myself. I felt so privileged and I thrived on the constant activity.
One of the things I most enjoyed was the camaraderie among all the agents as we worked together as a team. Now all that excitement was over, and I could just envision what lay ahead. While my buddies on the President’s Detail would be right in the middle of all the action, I knew where I was going to end up: fashion shows, afternoon tea parties, and the ballet. I felt as if my career had come to a screeching halt.
I pulled my Secret Service commission book out of my suit coat pocket and held it in my hands. The impressive midnight blue grosgrain leather case was engraved on the front cover with the gold five-point Secret Service star. Within the star it read: UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE.
As I went over and over in my mind what had just transpired, the only conclusion I could come to as to why I’d been chosen for this assignment was that Mrs. Kennedy and I were fairly close in age—I was now twenty-eight and she was thirty-one—and that I had a child nearly the same age as her three-year-old daughter Caroline. I couldn’t come up with any other reason.
I finally realized I had no recourse. I was a Secret Service agent on the White House Detail, and the first lady required protection. Somebody had to do it. So I pulled myself up, grabbed the keys to one of the Secret Service sedans, and headed to the historic streets of Georgetown.
THE THREE-STORY REDBRICK townhouse at 3307 N Street stood so close to the street that the front door was just two steps up from the sidewalk. The house was not very big—just three windows across on the upper two floors and two windows next to the front door on the ground floor.
The Secret Service agent posted in front of the house had been alerted to my arrival and allowed me inside without difficulty. Agent Jim Jeffries was waiting inside and came to the door to greet me.
Agent Jeffries was about five foot ten, the same height as me, with a medium build, and was about thirty-two or thirty-three years old. He had light, reddish hair, and a ruddy complexion, which I imagined would burn to a crisp if he spent more than a few minutes in the sun. As he approached me, he had a serious, almost stern look on his face that didn’t do much to calm the apprehension I was already feeling.
“Come on in, Clint,” he said, in a clipped voice. “I’m Jim Jeffries. Glad to have you aboard. Let me go find Mrs. Kennedy and introduce you.”
“Great. I’m looking forward to meeting her,” I said, with as much sincerity as I could muster.
As Jeffries walked out, I looked around the living room to try to get a feel for Mrs. Kennedy’s tastes and what kinds of things she liked. The room was elegantly decorated, but it had a feeling of warmth to it as well. Dark wood antiques were mixed with light-colored upholstered pieces and the furniture seemed as if it were arranged in such a way to invite guests to stay for long, lingering evenings by the fireplace. Built-in bookshelves were filled with a mixture of books and decorative ornaments that had a distinctly European feel. Everything seemed to be placed just so, and I got the feeling that should an object be moved ever so slightly, it would be noticed immediately. It was a home for tea parties and ladies’ luncheons. Just thinking about it made the feelings of disgust and disappointment wash over me again in a sudden wave.
After a few minutes, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy walked into the room, with Agent Jeffries a few steps behind.
I’d seen newspaper photographs of her, of course, but in person she was much more striking than I had imagined. She was tall—about five foot seven inches—but it was the way she carried herself, almost gliding into the room with a dancer’s erect posture, that exuded an air of quiet confidence. Her chin-length, dark brown hair was perfectly coiffed, and she wore just a touch of makeup, enough to accentuate her dark brown eyes and full lips but still look natural. She was very attractive, very gracious, and very pregnant.
“Mrs. Kennedy,” Jeffries said matter-of-factly, “this is Clint Hill. He will be the second agent for your personal protection.”
Mrs. Kennedy approached me and smiled warmly as she offered her hand.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Hill,” she said in a soft, breathy voice.
“It’s very nice to meet you, too, Mrs. Kennedy,” I said with a smile, as I shook her hand and looked directly into her eyes. She returned my gaze for an instant, then blinked and looked away, giving me the impression that, while she wanted to appear confident, on the inside she was rather shy.
The three of us sat down in the living room, as Agent Jeffries took the lead in explaining our duties, and how we would need to work with Mrs. Kennedy and her staff.
“There will be various agents assigned to handle the perimeter security of your residence—whether that’s here, the White House, Palm Beach, or Hyannis Port—at all times. Either Mr. Hill or I will be with you whenever you leave the residence, and if you travel outside of Washington, both of us will accompany you.”
The smile had worn off Mrs. Kennedy’s face as she resigned herself to the fact that, from now on, she would never be alone.
Calmly, in a measured tone, her voice almost whisper-like, she said, “Well, you don’t have to worry about me traveling in the next few weeks. My baby is due in a month and I plan to stay here in Washington. My biggest concern, really, is maintaining as much privacy as possible—not only for me, but for Caroline and the new baby, as well. I don’t want us to feel like animals in a zoo, and I certainly don’t want someone following me around like a puppy dog.”
Her gaze transferred between Jeffries and me, making sure that both of us understood her wishes.
“I also know that as soon as the baby is born, the press will be overbearing. They can be so intrusive.” She pressed her lips together, turning her mouth into a sly smile, and looking directly at me, she added, “I used to be one of them, you know, and I’m well aware of how they operate.”
In that instant, I realized that Mrs. Kennedy was a lot more intuitive and in control than her public image at the time suggested.
“Yes, Mrs. Kennedy,” I replied. “Part of our job will be to protect you from the press, and to make sure that you and your children can live as normal a life as possible. Believe me, we don’t like the press any more than you do.”
Her smile widened for an instant, and then she stood up and said, “It’s been lovely meeting you, gentlemen. Now I have some things to attend to.”
Jeffries and I stood up as Mrs. Kennedy walked out of the room. She had decided the meeting was over.
It was clear that she wasn’t excited about having two Secret Service agents around, and I realized that, if I was going to be able to do my job effectively, I would have to earn her trust.
“Let’s go outside and discuss how we’ll handle the schedule,” Jeffries said. “With just two of us on her protection, we’re going to be working a lot of overtime.”
Agents temporarily assigned from field offices would handle the perimeter security of her residence, no matter her location. One of us had to be available whenever Mrs. Kennedy was awake, and be prepared to perform whatever task was required to provide a secure environment in which Mrs. Kennedy could function in her capacity as wife of the President of the United States. Whether it was work or play, it was our job to make sure she could do the things she wanted or needed to do, safely. That included each and every location she visited. In order for either of us to have a day off, it required the other agent to work a full day, with no relief. When Mrs. Kennedy traveled outside the Washington, D.C., area, we both would have to work a full day in order to provide adequate coverage. A full day meant we worked during the periods Mrs. Kennedy was up, awake, and active. When she slept, we slept.
Thus began my new assignment.
I HADN’T BEEN briefed on Mrs. Kennedy at all, so I had very limited knowledge of her background, her likes and dislikes, or what activities were of interest to her. I didn’t like this feeling of being unprepared and I knew it was going to require a great deal of research to become knowledgeable about my new protectee. In those first few days, I collected newspaper and magazine articles to find out as much about Mrs. Kennedy as I possibly could. The more I read, the more I realized that her background and mine were about as different as they could possibly be.
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier had grown up on the East Coast in a sophisticated environment, learning social graces and developing an appreciation for art and literature from a young age. She was born on July 28, 1929, in Southampton, Long Island, to Jack and Janet Bouvier, and while her father instilled in her a love of horses and horseback riding, her mother developed her interest in painting, reading, and foreign languages. She had a sister named Lee, who was four years younger, and when the two were around eleven and seven years old, their parents divorced. Two years later, Janet Bouvier remarried a very wealthy man named Hugh Auchincloss.
The young Jacqueline Bouvier attended Miss Porter’s School, an exclusive boarding school in Farmington, Connecticut, where she was a straight-A student. Upon graduation from Miss Porter’s, she enrolled in Vassar College, in Poughkeepsie, New York, and in 1948 she was named “Debutante of the Year.” Summers were spent at her stepfather’s estate—a twenty-eight-room oceanfront “cottage” in Newport, Rhode Island, called Hammersmith Farm.
She became fluent in French when she spent her junior year of college in France, studying at the Sorbonne in Paris and the University of Grenoble. Upon her return from Europe, Jackie enrolled for her senior year at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she graduated, in 1951, with a bachelor of arts degree in French literature.
Two years later she married John Fitzgerald Kennedy, a junior senator from Massachusetts, in a highly publicized wedding in Newport that was deemed the “social event of the year.” Twelve hundred guests attended the lavish reception, which was held at Hammersmith Farm.
I, on the other hand, grew up in North Dakota in a very small town called Washburn. It was a farming community, with a large Norwegian population, and my father, Chris Hill, was the county auditor. My mother, Jennie, was a homemaker, and was devoted to my older sister, Janice, and me. My mother was hearing impaired and we, as family, made adjustments to cope with that situation. We spoke louder and always spoke in front of her so she could see that we were talking to her. She handled this difficult problem very well, but from a young age, I learned to anticipate her needs and was always protective of her.
My mother had long, dark brown hair that hung straight down her back—so different from my jet-black hair that grew in tight curls—but I never thought anything about it, until, when I was about six years old, the girl who lived across the street told me I was adopted.
I didn’t know what “adopted” meant, so I ran inside the house to ask my mother. She tried to explain it in six-year-old terms—how she and my father had driven 240 miles to Fargo in our 1929 DeSoto to the North Dakota Children’s Home for Adoption to choose me from all the other babies, how my aqua blue eyes beckoned to them—but it certainly wasn’t the way she had planned on me finding out. It turned out my sister was also adopted, and my mother was fearful that we wouldn’t feel as loved as if we had been her natural children. The truth was, I was lucky to have been raised in such a loving, stable home.
It wasn’t until many years later—after the world crashed in around me and I was searching for something to cling to—that I returned to North Dakota to meet my birth mother, and learned, as she lay on her deathbed, how I happened to become available for adoption.
Clint, Jennie, Janice, and Chris Hill, circa 1943
I was the sixth child of Alma Peterson, born January 4, 1932, in Larimore, North Dakota. Seventeen days after my birth, on a cold, snowy day, which happened to also be Alma’s thirty-ninth birthday, she had me baptized in a Lutheran church in Fargo, and then turned me over to the Children’s Home.
By the time I met her, she had suffered a stroke, and the details of the story were told to me by one of my half sisters. It wasn’t clear who my father was, she said, but she remembered Alma sending her to a French Canadian man named Vassau, who was the proprietor of the hotel where Alma was a maid, to collect some money for my birth.
Growing up in Washburn, though, I didn’t know any of this, and it didn’t really matter. I had a great childhood. Even though I never had my own room—I shared the porch with my grandfather and kept my belongings in one drawer of a dresser that was jammed next to the piano—I never went hungry, and was always supported by my family. My adoptive parents were very conservative—they didn’t smoke or drink alcohol—and were quite religious. Our whole family was active in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, where my sister played piano and I was an altar boy.
I attended the public schools in Washburn and was involved in many school activities: I played trumpet in the high school band, sang in the glee club, acted in plays, and played football and basketball and ran on the high school track team. I also played baseball for the Washburn American Legion team and, in my junior year of high school, had the great honor of being selected to attend the Boys State leadership program as the representative from Washburn. In 1950, I graduated from high school and when I left Washburn that fall to attend Concordia College, in Moorhead, Minnesota, the sign at the edge of the city read: WASHBURN POP. 912.
Now, ten years later, I was responsible for protecting the wife of the president-elect of the United States. I realized I had nothing to complain about, and I might just as well get used to it. Little did I know that life with Mrs. Kennedy was going to be anything but dull.
Clint Hill family home, Washburn, North Dakota
Table of Contents
Part 1 1960
1 Meeting Mrs. Kennedy 11
2 The Family 33
3 A Palm Beach Christmas 64
Part 2 1961
4 Glen Ora 91
5 Traveling with Mrs. Kennedy: Paris 122
6 Traveling with Mrs. Kennedy: Greece 147
7 A Summer in Hyannis Port 174
8 Fall 1961 199
9 Another Palm Beach Christmas 225
Part 3 1962
10 Traveling with Mrs. Kennedy: India 249
11 Traveling with Mrs. Kennedy: Pakistan 268
12 André Malraux and Marilyn Monroe 297
13 Another Summer in Hyannis Port 310
14 Traveling with Mrs. Kennedy: Ravello 322
15 October Crisis 359
16 The Third Palm Beach Christmas 384
Part 4 1963
17 Mona Lisa and New York City 399
18 The Sunshine Highway 414
19 Camp David and the Kama Sutra 427
20 Losing Baby Patrick 449
21 Onassis and the Christina 473
22 Preparing for Texas 506
23 That Day in Dallas 520
24 Parkland Hospital 563
25 The Funeral 589
Part 5 After the White House
26 Our Final Year 621
Epilogue: May 1994 642
Photograph Credits 657
Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for Mrs. Kennedy and Me includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
An engrossing chronicle of Special Agent Clint Hill’s four years assigned to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s secret service detail, Mrs. Kennedy and Me follows Hill from his first meeting with Jackie after her husband was elected President in 1960, through her years in the White House, summers in Hyannis Port, weekends at her estate in the Virginia countryside, winters at the Kennedy residence in Palm Beach, and her travels around the world including Paris, Greece, India, and Pakistan. Here are Clint Hill’s lively, humorous, and touching memories of Jackie, John, Caroline, and John Jr., and his account of the tragic day in November 1963 when JFK was killed while Mr. Hill was riding in the Presidential motorcade. Clint Hill earned the trust of the intensely private and enchanting first lady, and became her friend and confidant.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1) How do you think Mr. Hill’s own childhood and background prepared him for being a secret service agent?
2) Did you learn anything in this book about John F. Kennedy or Jackie that surprised you?
3) Clint Hill devised a number of ingenious solutions that allowed Mrs. Kennedy to live the life she wanted to yet remain safe, whether it was water skiing or riding horses or traveling abroad. Which solutions were you most impressed by?
4) Jacqueline Kennedy was intensely private and committed to maintaining as normal a life possible for herself and her children. Would you enjoy being in the public eye the way Jackie was? Would you relish the attention or lament the lack of privacy?
5) How do you think Clint Hill’s family dealt with the demands of his job? What would it be like to be married to a Secret Service agent?
6) When informing Clint he’d be traveling with Mrs. Kennedy to Paris and Greece, Jerry Behn, the Special Agent in Charge, told him to “stay loose.” (p. 67) What do you think are some of the personal and psychological attributes necessary to being a good Secret Service agent?
7) What were some of your perceptions and assumptions about Jack and Jackie before reading this book? Did any of those perceptions change?
8) What did you think when John Kennedy told Clint as he was about to leave for Greece, “Do not let Mrs. Kennedy cross paths with Aristotle Onassis”? (p. 72)
9) If you could choose to be in the Secret Service for any of the Presidents or First Ladies in history, to whom would you most like to be assigned? Why?
10) While traveling in India, Clint Hill got the message that he was assuming command of the First Lady’s protective detail. (p. 134) Why do you think Agent Jim Jeffries was dismissed?
11) If you could sit down with Clint Hill what questions would you most like to ask him about John and Jackie Kennedy?
12) In an incident at National Airport in Washington, D.C., Clint Hill ripped the film out of a photographer’s camera after Mrs. Kennedy insisted on not allowing press to photograph her and the children. (p. 188) What do you think about the rights of the paparazzi and the press to have access to people in the public eye?
13) How do you think the assassination of John F. Kennedy changed the way the Secret Service operates?
Enhance Your Book Club
1) In your book club, figure out who would best be suited for these jobs: protection of the president, protection of the first lady, kiddie detail, press secretary, social secretary. Why? What traits make each person suited for the job?
2) Look up on the Internet the current presidential detail: http://www.secretservice.gov/ Can you determine how the Secret Service has changed since the 1960s? Look at the job openings. Do you think you have what it takes? Could you imagine doing this job?
3) The Secret Service all had code names that began with the letter D. Clint Hill was “Dazzle.” (p. 113) Choose a letter and assign everyone in the book club an appropriate code name.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
One of the loveliest, most interesting books I've read in a long time. I read the book in two days--couldn't put it down. Agent Hill was just 28 years old when he first met then 31-year-old Jackie Kennedy, who was 8 months pregnant. Neither of them were too happy about being thrown together--Hill wanted to be on the President's Secret Service detail and thought the First Lady assignment felt like a demotion, while Jackie didn't like the idea of having someone around 24/7. Two weeks later, Agent Hill is there when Jackie gives birth to John, Jr. and sees the baby before President Kennedy. From this point on, you see the relationship between the two develop into a wonderful relationship. You can sense the chemistry between them, and how they become so close they can communicate just by looking at each other. The book is filled with marvelous, often funny anecdotes that take you around the world--to Italy, Pakistan, India, France and yes, to Greece, aboard Aristotle Onassis' yacht. No one knew Jackie Kennedy during this time better than Clint Hill, and he has written a beautiful memoir that reads like a love letter to the most iconic woman in American history. The other review seems to think this is a Secret Service book which--I guess it is because it is written by a Secret Service agent, but it is so much more than that--it is one of those books that will stay in your heart forever, having transported you back to a different era, a time that was filled with so much hope, before it ended in the tragic assassination of our nation's president. I'm buying a copy for my mother and grandmother for Mother's Day because I know they will appreciate it even more than me, having grown up in that era.
Mr. Hill was, and remains, a true gentleman. This book is a quick read, well written, and thought provoking. It gives you a personal view of Mrs. Kennedy, without being gossipy or overly intrusive. In my opinion, Mr. Hill did not write this book for a “quick buck,” but because he truly cared about the story and this family. There are a few nuggets here and there where a reader could “read between the lines,” but the way it is written remains classy and not crass. This book would be great for a relaxing weekend or a beach vacation – once I started, I finished in one (long) sitting as I wanted to find out the next adventure (Mrs. Kennedy seemed to never be in D.C.). Thank you for your service Mr. Hill.
OUTSTANDING: SECOND ONLY TO “WITHIN ARM’S LENGTH”! I so wanted to dislike this book. As the leading civilian literary expert on the Secret Service, I had previously—-and rightfully—lambasted Lisa McCubbin’s prior effort entitled “The Kennedy Detail” for its rewriting of history, blaming JFK for his own death and putting words in the late president’s mouth that he never once uttered, as verified by the prior accounts of numerous top agents and White House aides, many of whom WERE there in Dallas (unlike former agent Gerald Blaine). As previously stated, it was my 22-page letter to former agent Clint Hill that angered him and his best friend to whom I had also spoken to, the aforementioned Blaine, that directly led to the writing of “The Kennedy Detail” and, by extension, the need to write a follow-up tome, “Mrs. Kennedy & Me” (whenever a book is even a mild best-seller, which their first effort was, it is almost a guarantee that, if there is any gas left in the tank, so to speak, a further literary work will be forthcoming). In fact, both agents Blaine and Hill debated the merits of my research on television and, if that weren’t enough, I was mentioned on pages 359-360 of “The Kennedy Detail” (without naming me, of course). One could argue several other pages refer to my work, directly or indirectly, but I digress from the matter at hand. Simply put, “Mrs. Kennedy & Me” is stupendous: a literary home run, second only to another brand new work, the outstanding 2012 book “Within Arm’s Length” by former agent Dan Emmett, as attaining the mantle of being the greatest book on the Secret Service by a former agent ever to date (1865-2012 and counting). I almost cannot believe I am writing this but, alas, honesty prevails: Mr. Hill and Ms. McCubbin have alot to be proud of for this book—it is consistently everything “The Kennedy Detail” is not: truthful, honest, no axe to grind, not dry or boring, well written, and coming from the perspective of a brave and dedicated public servant who WAS truly there (to be fair, even “The Kennedy Detail”, and certainly the documentary it was based on, had its moments, although my judgment is rightfully clouded by what I and others feel are the purposeful untruths and propaganda contained throughout, as well as the exasperating third-person narrative interwoven throughout the book, making it hard to pin down exactly WHO was responsible for specific passages. President Kennedy did NOT order the agents off his limousine in Tampa, in Dallas, or anywhere else, for that matter- SAIC Behn, ASAIC Boring, ATSAIC Godfrey, many of their colleagues, and several prominent White House aides said so). Do I still have misgivings about some of the agents on the Kennedy Detail? Sure; that will never change. Am I also an ardent admirer of the Secret Service? You bet: the agency has a whole lot to be proud of. Clint Hill at least TRIED to do something that fateful day inDallasand carried much guilt and depression over the sad events of that time and place. That is a whole lot more than several of his colleagues can lay claim to. That aside, “Mrs. Kennedy & Me” is highly recommended to everyone for its honesty and rich body of true, first-hand accounts of guarding First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Too bad this book wasn’t even longer and “The Kennedy Detail” did not exist, but one cannot ask for everything. Please purchase this fine book as soon as possible!
I wanted this book to last forever, until JFK's tragic death. I was a young teenager when this all occurred, and so viewing Jacqueline now as an adult was wonderful as seen through Agent Hill's eyes. What a gentleman he was and still is. It was wonderful to read about her life as a cultured, educated and refined first lady. I was so surprised at the end of the book to realize that there was only a span of about 3 hours between the shooting and the flying back to D.C. At the time they actually took place, I watched all those events through the eyes of news anchormen, and live television....... So it was really nice to hear about the wonderful times, the happy times.....thank you so much Mr. Hill for coming forward to write this book, what a wonderful tribute to Mrs. Kennedy. I hope that Caroline is approving of this book--I am very glad to have read it.
I have so much respect and admiration for Clint Hill. I felt every emotion, every laugh, and every painful memory he wrote about. Best memoir I have read. Thank you, Mr. Hill, for giving us a vision of JBK through your eyes.
I really really enjoyed this book. I am very grateful Mr. Hill wrote it. I love history and love hearing every little detail over and over. President Kennedy was assasinated before I was born so I never really understood how everyone felt about him and now I do. This book has the highs and lows of any Shakespearean play. I also am grateful that Mr. Hill wrote it from a very respectful point of view. I don't need to hear all the gossip and guessings of small minded people. It has nothing to do with the history. Thank you Mr. Hill and I hope happiness finds you as many days as possible.
I loved this book. So insightful into both Mrs Kennedy and the secret service. Things I never knew...I highly recommend this book.
I'm not one who usually reads non fiction but the Kennedy family has always sparked interest. I ordered Mrs Kennedy and Me on my nook and could not stop reading and absorbing the details of this well written book. Clint Hill tells a fascinating story of Jackie Kennedy from a different point of view. She was a legend in her time, a beautiful woman, devoted mother and wife and an avid lover of life. What I liked most about this book was that there was no "trash" and the story concentrated on Jackie and her life as first lady. Clint Hill was a constant in her life during this time and there was nothing he would not do for Mrs. Kennedy. (or at least he tried) She was full of adventure and variety and certainly was not cup of tea person. She thrived on life and gave America the first First Lady with class and charm so removed from her predecessors. The world loved her. Mr. Hill's descriptive narrative of the assassination brought back vivid memories of that day in November 1964 but reading it today in his words reawakened that day of horror. In closing I have a new found respect for the secret service men who put their own lives on hold to protect our presidents. I highly recommend this book and thank you Mr Hill for your well written page turning book. Do yourself a favor and read it.
I read this book in about 5 days. I couldn't put it down. It was like being transported into a different world. I laughed and cried and felt the pain of Mr. Hill and Mrs. Kennedy.
Such an insight into America's famous first family. The book helps you understand why and how Mrs. Kennedy became so reclusive until her children were grown. The constant struggle to have a normal family took it's toll on the entire family. The description of the day of the assassination will bring you to tears. And the reader's knowledge of the future death of Bobby Kennedy and young John Kennedy leaves you with a shadow of dread. What an amazing woman JBK was.
This is one of the best books I have read in a long time and I am an avid reader. Thanks to Mr. Hill for sharing this incredible story! I never feel compelled to write a review but this book is the exception.
I was 7 years old on November 22, 1963 at home with my Mom. I remember her scream and that day ended a young president's too short term in office and changed the world forever. Mr. Hill's account of his life as a secret service agent to Jackie Kennedy is a tribute to the times and to both of them. Theres so much trash being written about the Kennedys these days its refreshing to read this. Its funny and tearful at times. How can you put yourself into the mind of Mr. Hill when he tells about the assassination. Clearly he was brave and couragous, not just the training kicking in. That he suffered its plain to see, but he did everything he knew how to do. It was a lucky 3 quick shots in an unpredectible situation by a crazy sharpshooter. But as to Jackie, I can get a feel for now, based on the type of person she was before and after the assassination. I always liked and respected her and even more so now. I will be reading this over alot through the years. Its a great book.
Mrs Kennedy and Me shares an inside look into the first family on a personal level. Mr Hill takes the reader into the Kennedy White House not so much from a political view but shares the everyday personal life of Mrs. Kennedy as she struggles with being a public figure. An enjoyable read it is obvious that this book was written out of respect for the Kennedy family from someone who being in the Secret Service had first hand knowledge of the triumphs and tradgedies.
Thank you, Mr. Clint Hill for this beautifully written book. I was 18 when we lost our President. Reading your book brought me back to that time of my life. I celebrated with you as I read about your warm relationship with Mrs. Kennedy and I cried as you so movingly wrote about your experience on that sad and tragic day. You did your best, you should be very proud of what you did and who you are. I LOVED this book. Thank you!
Clint Hill was a true professional. I enjoyed reading history through his eyes.
Everyone's reviews are spot on. This is a wonderful book that I recommend to anyone. However, no one mentions my favorite part of the book and I will not ruin for ones that have not read it. But I will say, I have always believed President Kennedy to be a true American partiot and now because of this book I believe Mrs. Kennedy to be one as well. My children and I would gladly stand with Mrs. Kennedy any day of the week on the south lawn. Thank you Mr. Hill for writing the book. It is now one of my all time favorite books.
I read this book in about 2 days. It is a quick, easy read and hard to put down! Clint Hill is the secret service agent who was assigned to protect Jackie Kennedy. At first he was less than thrilled with the assignment-- having previously been on President Eisenhower's detail, he viewed being assigned to the new First Lady as something of a demotion. It is clear from his writing that he soon got over this. The book shows nothing but great admiration and respect for Mrs. Kennedy and the whole Kennedy family. There were some really amazing tidbits in this book. I never knew that Secret Service agents were expected to protect the President and his family on a $12 a day per diem-- I always assumed that when members of the First Family traveled, arrangements were made for their agents to stay near by. I was surprised to find out that this was not the case! If you are looking for gossipy dish, this is not the book for you. Mr. Hill is nothing but respectful towards the Kennedy family and does not tell tales out of school. If you want an interesting perspective on the Kennedy White House told by someone who was there when it all happened, get this book!
Beautiful, Lovely, Heartbreaking, and Interesting is how I choose to describe this book. This is written as a memoir, but is much more of a tribute. It is obvious his deep admiration for the Kennedy family and this book is a testimate to that. Mr Hill made you feel as somehow you were there in those moments with Mrs Kennedy, and I could not put this book down. And while you get a glimpse into the life of this extrodinary first lady, you also feel a deep admiration for Mr Hill, who unselfishly gave up so much time with his own family, to protect our first lady. Thank you Mr. HIll !
I felt every emotion right along with Mrs. Kennedy & Mr. Hill. This book will never leave me. I so enjoyed that this story told about the Kennedys as a family, not just the president & his wife. Thank you Mr. Hill.
I just finished this book I read it in two nights, I was only 7 when the president was killed but I still remember the day and the reaction that all the adults had. I have always been interested in anything Kennedy , but it was always about the president, so when I started this book i don't know what to expect, it's a wonderful book, Mrs Kennedy is a unbelievable person, so strong to have to deal with everything she had to face. I laughed and cried, Mr. Hill was a great friend to her even though it was his job, and I'm sure he had to scrafice so much of his personal life to do his job so well. I sure he thinks it was his fault that he didn't save the president, but I'm sure she never thought that. What a burden to bear, I hope that by writing this helped him. Are family have always read everything about them, our youngest son named our first granddaughter Kennedy and people always asks if she's named after him. A GREAT BOOK!!!!! For anyone who wants to hear a different side, thank you Mr. Hill
This book transported me back to the sad, dark, four days sitting on my couch in front of the television crying over the death of my president. It is so difficult to believe it's been almost fifty years, but Clint Hill's book makes it seem like yesterday. Thank you Mr. Hill, for your positive, loving, intimate look at a lovely thoughtful lady. How refreshing to read about the close loving relationship of JFK and Jackie. It's about time someone positively portrayed their relationship as a couple. I only wish Jackie was still alive to read your wonderful words. Yes, she was wealthy and privileged; yes, she lived in the White House and was married to a President, but Jackie Kennedy experienced more trauma and heartache in a few short years than most of us will experience in a lifetime. She lost three babies and just three months after the death of her last child, she witnessed the explosion of her husband's head. Mr. Hill, thank you for sharing your memories of this remarkable strong woman.
I enjoy reading about the work of the Secret Service, so this was very interesting. This is NOT a tell-all book, but I wasn't looking for that kind of information, so I was not disappointed. Mr. Hill does not make suppositions or attribute thoughts and ideas to Mrs. Kennedy beyond what he sees and experiences, and I like that aspect of the book. I appreciated the insight into Mrs. Kennedy's life-style and travel experiences.
Mrs. Kennedy and Me is a truly captivating book that gives readers a firsthand look into the life of the ever-so mysterious Jacqueline Kennedy. This memoir is written by Clint Hill, a Secret Service agent that worked with many administrations from Eisenhower to Nixon, a must-read for the political savvy. As a memoir, it focuses strictly on Mr. Hill's time with Mrs. Kennedy and their evolving relationship over the years. Hill, after believing his assignment to the First Lady was a demotion (since he previously worked with the President), soon grows to love the very inquisitive and charming Mrs. Kennedy, just as every reader who picks up this book does. Mr. Hill vowed that he would never write about his time in the Secret Service, but his desire for Americans to learn more about one of the most guarded and private First Ladies of all time is truly a treat. The book begins when Mrs. Kennedy is pregnant and about to enter the White House and travels through four years of memories, laughs, days of horseback riding, water skiing, yachts, traveling around the globe, and, of course, the assassination. It also gives insight about life in the White House and the involvement of Mrs. Kennedy in the planning of state dinners, visits from foreign leaders, her restoration/refurbishing projects for the White House, and much more. The book provides us with interesting dialogue from the fascinating First Lady, such as her thoughts on the Secret Service’s plans to evacuate the First Family into the bomb shelter during the Cuban Missile Crisis. She remarks, “If the situation develops, I will take Caroline and John, and we will walk hand in hand out onto the south grounds. We will stand there like brave soldiers, and face the fate of every other American.” Another chilling moment of the book occurs after the assassination of JFK and her resistance to changing her blood-stained clothes before LBJ is sworn in. “We had tried to convince her to change her clothes, but she refused. ‘Let them see what they have done,’ she said.” Aside from the sad moments, many warm moments are shared by Mr. Hill, Mrs. Kennedy, Mr. Kennedy, Caroline, John, and others in the administration. The book is very heartwarming until the last 60 pages or so when JFK is killed. Throughout all 350 pages, the book was captivating, memorable, and made me laugh both tears of joy and sadness. Aside from its appeal to pathos, it is also extremely informative about life as a Secret Service agent and such a famous family’s approaches to dealing with their highly publicized life. Although the book leaves out some issues that occurred and focuses away from their marital issues, it was overall very entertaining. Mrs. Kennedy has easily catapulted into the #1 spot for my favorite First Lady, and I learned about JFK’s political ideals and views more than ever before. I felt every emotion reading this book, and it is now one of my favorite historical reads. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about one of the most private First Ladies and the lifestyle she lived in the White House.
I have always had a fascination with the Kennedy family, like much of the rest of the world, but I have always lacked key connecting facts and stories that linked my knowledge of the family to the many tasks they preformed and situations they were put into during President Kennedy's term in the White House. The Kennedys are a captivating family and I highly recommend this book anyone with any curiosity about the family's history and the story of Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy's journey through the White House, the trips they took, people they met, the family they raised and why the attention of the American people was held so tightly. Hill's remembrance of details, conversations and events is astonishing and it was incredible to learn how close he became with the first family and the great deal of knowledge he obtained about Mrs. Kennedy as her chief Secret Service agent. This is a great book and I can very well see myself reading it again in the future!
Shallow people with only concern for themselves. Stopped reading a quarter through.