We've all heard about Secret Service Agent Clint Hill's regret and shame over the failure of his team to prevent the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but we’ve never seen the events through his own eyes.
“Mrs. Kennedy and Me: An Intimate Memoir” is Mr. Hill’s first person account of life inside the Kennedy White House, from the point of view of a man who had more access than almost anyone outside of the immediate family. It’s not just a little eye-opening to realize Mr. Hill had access to Jackie Kennedy’s hotel room – while she was dressing.
The responsibilities of Mr. Hill’s job, and the manner in which he apparently bore them, are quite impressive. For instance, many believe Mr. Hill led President Kennedy’s protection team in Dallas on November 21, 1963; but in fact he was never on the president’s detail.
Rather, he led the first lady’s protection detail during the Kennedy Administration. I also expected the second half of the book to explore what happened to Mr. Hill after the assassination, including his reported depression, alcoholism and deep personal pain. The book touches only briefly on this, but it leaves the astute reader with a clear picture of the agony he apparently continues to endure.
The tragic scene in Dealey Plaza is obviously the climax of the story, but this book is really about Mr. Hill's personal and professional experiences with Mrs. Kennedy. The two traveled the world together, often without the president, and at times the affection (bordering on sexual tension) between them is palpable. However, in Mr. Hill’s telling, he was the consummate professional, dutifully serving his client in the chivalrous spirit of Camelot, upholding the oath he swore when he received his Treasury Department commission.
I was previously unaware of this extremely close relationship between the two, so sooner or later I half expected to come upon a chapter detailing some late night rendezvous on a yacht in the Mediterranean – or at least a stolen, lingering kiss.
But this is no Harlequin Romance novel. While Hill’s strong feelings for Mrs. Kennedy are clear, this is the story of a dedicated public servant, the personal impact his actions had on the Kennedy family, and the high price he paid for his efforts.
“Mrs. Kennedy and Me” doesn't seek to shock, nor does it bother with conspiracy theories or scandalous behavior. However, what it does do is place you alongside Jackie Kennedy, giving you a glimpse behind those big dark sunglasses. It also places you on the rear bumper of President Kennedy's limousine in Dallas.
Personally, I hope this book and the reaction Mr. Hill will undoubtedly receive from the public can give him some measure of the emotional closure he so deserves. It's hard to imagine anyone outside of the Kennedy family suffering more from the assassination of President Kennedy than Mr. Hill.
The Kennedys received an outpouring of love and support from the world following the loss of the 38th president. But in an age long before post-traumatic stress was understood or therapy was realistic, Mr. Hill was left only with his deep personal grief, shame and guilt, which he has borne for almost 50 years.
Clint Hill shows us the best we can be as Americans. Professional, considerate, dedicated and classy.
NOTE: Narrator Jeremy Bobb performed the story exceptionally well. He speaks in Hill's voice with appropriate emotion and professionalism, and it's easy to listen to him.
This conscience-free sociopath was such a complete a**hole that I just can't put this knowledge aside and credit him for what he actually DID do. And even then, who knows how many ideas he just outright stole and took credit for -- this book details several. Jobs' lack of any sense of right and wrong is jaw dropping. On top of all that, people love to give him a pass on all of his antisocial behavior because he created such great products. Really?
His mantra is that he never compromised in creating the best product. But the list of unaddressed issues with Apple products that are maddening to consumers is as long as my arm. "Better than the rest" doesn't equal "the best products ever devised," as Jobs brags at every product intro.
It's tough to give a pass for product shortcomings to a guy who is so unbelievably arrogant about how he beats the self esteem out of his employees, vendors, parents, significant others, reporters, and everyone else whom he can't simply manipulate to do his bidding.
Congrats to Walter Isaacson for not pulling any punches in what could easily been a puff piece. The world deserves to see behind the curtain of a man who has staked history's view of him on micromanaging his own image. So it looks like one of his final stunts designed to cement the world's admiration for him may have backfired. Thankfully.
"There is No God" by Penn Jillette's is ostensibly about being an atheist in America. But it's lack of focus makes this title somewhat misleading. This book is also not for the squeamish. He is brutally honest, and he takes no prisoners. This is terrific when he takes aim at televangelists, the Catholic church and politicians. But he also seems to have some sort of penis fixation, whereby many of his jokes and sidebars have the flavor of a 7th grade boy.
If Jillette would stick to his premise, which I thought was to shed light on hypocrites of all walks, especially Christians, he might have held my attention a little longer. Instead the book is a meandering journey through Jillette's life, covering everything from his middle class upbringing (with a smallish penis) to the start of his show business career (despite having a smallish penis), to his all night romp through a San Francisco gay bath house (with a penis so average he seems dismayed that he wasn't approached to participate in his first gay experience).
I was first annoyed when it became evident that I was unable to access the second part of this book (which, as is the case with many Audible books, downloads in two pieces which are often troublesome to download, difficult to find once they're downloaded, and a real challenge to keep together and manage in order).
However, in hindsight, I think I got his point, and I decided fighting for part 2 wasn't really worth the effort. Jillette is an incredibly intelligent philosopher and pundit, and I enjoy his bare-knuckle approach to organized religion and politics -- two topics with incredible hypocrisy in common. I just wish he'd stick to what he knows best.
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