The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency

( 9 )

Overview

"Pulling the veil off a highly visible yet tight-lipped federal agency, scholar of governmental secrecy and political violence Philip H. Melanson has created the first definitive portrait of the Secret Service. From its 1865 inception as the nation's police against counterfeiting to the official assignment of protecting the president to the post 9/11 challenges of protecting the targets of terrorists, Melanson and co-author Peter E. Stevens present the agency's history and examine its role in the headlines of our times." "Through rigorous ...
See more details below
Hardcover
$4.99
BN.com price
(Save 37%)$7.98 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Sending request ...

Overview

"Pulling the veil off a highly visible yet tight-lipped federal agency, scholar of governmental secrecy and political violence Philip H. Melanson has created the first definitive portrait of the Secret Service. From its 1865 inception as the nation's police against counterfeiting to the official assignment of protecting the president to the post 9/11 challenges of protecting the targets of terrorists, Melanson and co-author Peter E. Stevens present the agency's history and examine its role in the headlines of our times." "Through rigorous research and interviews with former White House staffers, retired agents, and the first female agent on the presidential detail, Melanson reveals new details about the assassination of JFK and the shooting of President Reagan, along with threats against other presidents; presidential demands on agents and agency funds (by JFK, LBJ, Nixon, the Bushes, and Clinton); alcoholism, divorce, and burnout among agents; the continuing failure to develop a profile of assassins that would facilitate effective prevention; and how the gender gap within the Service has been institutionalized." "Examining the image of a highly professional and apolitical organization, the book reveals the pervasive, often detrimental influence that politics exerts on the Service, typified by Kenneth Starr's efforts to use agents' testimony against President Clinton, and earlier, lesser known episodes." Melanson also assesses the profound new challenges confronting the Secret Service as Congress considers whether to move the agency out of the Treasury Department and place it in the nascent Department of Homeland Security. The authors also analyze how the agency will respond to threats that are escalating in technological sophistication - nerve gas, dirty bombs, biological agents, and shoulder-held missiles. Now, with this provocative study, one federal agency still veiled in secrecy is exposed for all Americans to see.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This comprehensive, sometimes critical and often dry history explains how the Secret Service grew out of the Treasury Department in 1865, with the original mission of protecting American currency against counterfeiters. Melanson, an expert on political violence and government secrecy, and Stevens (The Voyage of the Catalpa) show how, late in the century, the Service gradually (and initially without congressional authorization) expanded its mission into presidential protection. Opponents of the expansion thought assigning a guard to the president would give him the trappings of monarchy, making him less accessible to the people. The most compelling chapter examines the failure that continues to haunt the agency: the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy. The authors analyze what went wrong in Dallas: Kennedy's limo driver reacted too slowly to the first bullet, failing to take evasive driving action so as to avoid the second, fatal shot. Moreover, according to the authors, Kennedy's death was a failure of intelligence-sharing between the Secret Service and the FBI. Following the assassination, the authors argue, the agency "began a pattern of lies about its fatal missteps in Dallas." All aspects of the agency's work are covered extensively: recruiting, training, intelligence gathering, the often-tense relationship between the agency and the people it tries to protect. President Johnson, in particular, rebelled against Secret Service restrictions, once literally pissing on an agent. This is a worthwhile book for assassination buffs and those with an interest in the inner workings of government. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A researcher of major US assassinations and consultant on political violence thoroughly traces the history of the Secret Service and its seemingly incongruous dual missions. Particularly since the Kennedy assassination, the Secret Service has been fixed in the public eye for what it didn't do that day-protect the country's Chief Executive. But the agency was originally formed under the Treasury Department solely to combat the rampant counterfeiting that, by the end of the Civil War, had flooded the country with bogus currency. Some 30 years later, in 1894, a request direct from Mrs. Grover Cleveland, who had heard rumors of a plot against her husband, resulted in three agents being posted to the Cleveland summer home (illegally, since Congress was never advised). For the next half-century, the "protectee" segment of the Secret Service mission gradually evolved from ad hoc to official (under the Truman administration). In mining the relationship between the agency and presidential families it has served, Melanson provides some fascinating insights. Exasperated by Eleanor Roosevelt's disdain for personal protection, for example, agents offered to provide her with her own gun and train her to use it if she would constantly carry it, in return for which they would leave her alone. She agreed, then put the gun in a dresser drawer; the agency, in turn, tracked her clandestinely everywhere she went. There are others: Kennedy's fatalism, Nixon's fixations-he spent more on "improving security" (including landscaping) at San Clemente than the original property cost him-and Clinton's charging into an adoring crowd with agents desperately hanging on by his belt. Now, however, with terroristtechnology ratcheting up the threats against a growing list of protectees, the Secret Service's "mission impossible" often burns out its best and bravest. Somewhat plodding, but with gems along the path.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781567316865
  • Publisher: MJF Books
  • Publication date: 6/15/2004
  • Pages: 374
  • Sales rank: 291,445
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Philp H. Melanson, Ph. D., an expert on political violence and governmental secrecy, has done original research into the JFK, RFK, and Martin Luther King assassinations, prompting appearances on CBS Evening News, BBC, History Channel, Discovery Channel, and C-SPAN. He has served as a consultant to the (JFK) Assassinations-Records Review Board, and is coordinator of the RFK Assassination Archives at the University of Massachussetts Dartmouth. His last book was SECRECY WARS: NATIONAL SECURITY, PRIVACY, AND THE PUBLIC'S RIGHT TO KNOW. He lives in Marion, Massachussetts.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(2)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(1)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2005

    Interesting, if you ignore the editing

    As someone that enjoys history I enjoyed the book, however, the editing was didtracting. It appears as if someone used, and relied totally on, spell check. I found that distracting, but if you can ignore the editing it is an easy read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2005

    An interesting book but poor editing

    The book provides some interesting insights into the Secret Service, an agency that has little written about it. What takes away from the book though, and causes you question its accuracy, are the typos and laughable mistakes. The most glaring to me were a couple of references to events in the 1860s on the Penn-Central Railroad. The Penn-Central wasn't created until the 1960s.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)