Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford

Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford

4.5 10
by Clint Hill
     
 

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A rare and fascinating portrait of the American presidency from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Kennedy and Me and Five Days in November.

Secret Service agent Clint Hill brings history intimately and vividly to life as he reflects on his seventeen years protecting the most powerful office in the nation. Hill walked alongside

Overview

A rare and fascinating portrait of the American presidency from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Kennedy and Me and Five Days in November.

Secret Service agent Clint Hill brings history intimately and vividly to life as he reflects on his seventeen years protecting the most powerful office in the nation. Hill walked alongside Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford, seeing them through a long, tumultuous era—the Cold War; the Cuban Missile Crisis; the assassinations of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy; the Vietnam War; Watergate; and the resignations of Spiro Agnew and Richard M. Nixon.

Some of his stunning, never-before-revealed anecdotes include:
-Eisenhower’s reaction at Russian Prime Minister Khrushchev’s refusal to talk following the U-2 incident
-The torture of watching himself in the Zapruder film in a Secret Service training
-Johnson’s virtual imprisonment in the White House during violent anti-Vietnam protests
-His decision to place White House files under protection after a midnight phone call about Watergate
-The challenges of protecting Ford after he pardoned Nixon

With a unique insider’s perspective, Hill sheds new light on the character and personality of these five presidents, revealing their humanity in the face of grave decisions.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
04/01/2016
Former Secret Service agent Hill, with journalist McCubbin (both, Mrs. Kennedy and Me), expands on his previous books that detailed his time protecting John and Jacqueline Kennedy with this logbook-esque memoir of serving in five presidential administrations from 1958 to 1975. Starting as a young agent during Dwight Eisenhower's second term, Hill was impressed by the aging president's stamina and ability to work in a daily round of golf no matter his schedule. With Kennedy's election in 1960, Hill was reassigned to the president's wife, Jackie. This is how he came to jump onto the presidential motorcade during the Kennedy assassination—a heroic action immortalized in the infamous Zapruder film. Suffering from undiagnosed PTSD, Hill nevertheless stayed on to guard Lyndon Johnson, Spiro Agnew, and Gerald Ford, witnessing turbulent elections, assassinations, and the effects of the Vietnam War and Watergate along the way. The best moments are the surprising, intimate ones with the presidents and their families (the author's own family gets passing mentions), but the book lags when recapping well-trodden historical events and figures and cataloging the crowd sizes during the seemingly endless foreign trips. VERDICT An eloquently written travelog through midcentury America from the periphery of political power. Best for casual readers of U.S. history.—Chad Comello, Morton Grove P.L., IL

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781476794136
Publisher:
Gallery Books
Publication date:
05/03/2016
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
2,962
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 6.20(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Walking Beside History

As a Special Agent in the United States Secret Service, I had the honor and privilege of serving five presidents—Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford—three Republicans and two Democrats. From my unique vantage point, I had the rare opportunity to observe the human side of these men—the most powerful men in the world—as each dealt with the enormous responsibilities and unforeseen challenges thrust upon them, and how their individual characters and personalities affected grave decisions.

My seventeen years in the Secret Service spanned the period that encompassed the U-2 spy incident; the Cold War; the Cuban Missile Crisis; the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy; the civil rights movement, riots and burning of major U.S. cities; the Vietnam War; Watergate; and the resignations of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew and President Nixon. In less than two decades, America went from being unquestionably the most respected and admired nation in the world to a country whose image had become tarnished by violence, scandal, and deceit.

It is interesting to note that of these five presidents, only Eisenhower had a normal run as president—elected by the people and serving two full terms. Kennedy was elected in 1960 by the slimmest of margins, and his term lasted just one thousand days, cut short by an assassin. Suddenly, the vice president became president. Johnson was reelected the following year, but when the demands of the office and the casualties of the Vietnam War became more than he could bear, he chose not to run for a second term. Nixon was elected in 1968, and again in 1972, but in the wake of the Watergate scandal, he became the first United States president to resign, in 1974. A year earlier, when Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, resigned in disgrace, Nixon appointed Gerald Ford as vice president. Thus, upon Nixon’s resignation, Ford became president, never having been elected to the office.

It was a turbulent time, and there I was, in the middle of it all.

As with our two previous books, my talented writing partner, Lisa McCubbin, and I have attempted to bring history to life through my experiences. While Mrs. Kennedy and Me focused on my interactions with Jacqueline Kennedy, and Five Days in November detailed those tragic days surrounding the assassination, the Kennedy section in this book focuses on my observations of and interactions with President Kennedy. There is unavoidably some overlap, but the recollections of my years with Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford are revealed here for the first time.

There is no doubt that the assassination of President Kennedy was a defining moment for me, and it would affect me on many levels for the rest of my life. I was thrust onto the pages of history, but it has often bothered me that I would be remembered solely for my actions on that one day. For there was much that led up to that moment, and much that followed.

Like the five presidents I served, there were many things that influenced the decisions I made, the actions I took, the man I became.

It has indeed been an extraordinary journey.
 

Meet 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 an award-winning journalist who has been a television news anchor and reporter, hosted her own radio show, and spent more than five years in the Middle East as a freelance writer. She is the coauthor of Mrs. Kennedy and Me, Five Days in November, and The Kennedy Detail. Visit her at LisaMcCubbin.com.

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Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous 9 months ago
This is one of the most informative and interesting books I have read. I was a little girl when Eisenhower was president. Thank you Mr. Hill for allowing your readers a personal insight into the personalities of these five presidents. It makes me sad you carried the burden of guilt for not saving President Kennedy's life for all of these years. I'm glad you worked through that. I would recommend this book highly.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Glimps into history from the unique perspective of the demanding charge of protecting a world leader. Insight into the men behind the office of President of the United States.
Anonymous 6 months ago
A very informative addition to my library.
Anonymous 8 months ago
illinigrl02 8 months ago
Illuminating and straight forward. I want to read his other two now!
Anonymous 10 months ago
Anonymous 11 months ago
B-loNY 11 months ago
Excelent book for those of us who remember those years
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous 10 months ago
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