Within Arm's Length: A Secret Service Agent's Definitive Inside Account of Protecting the President

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A rare inside look at the Secret Service from an agent who provided protection worldwide for President George H. W. Bush, President William Clinton, and President George W. Bush

Dan Emmett was just eight years old when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The events surrounding the President's death shaped the course of young Emmett's life as he set a goal of becoming a US Secret Service agent—one of a special group of people willing to ...

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Within Arm's Length: A Secret Service Agent's Definitive Inside Account of Protecting the President

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A rare inside look at the Secret Service from an agent who provided protection worldwide for President George H. W. Bush, President William Clinton, and President George W. Bush

Dan Emmett was just eight years old when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The events surrounding the President's death shaped the course of young Emmett's life as he set a goal of becoming a US Secret Service agent—one of a special group of people willing to trade their lives for that of the President, if necessary.

Within Arm's Length is a revealing and compelling inside look at the Secret Service and the elite Presidential Protective Division (PPD). With stories from some of the author's more high-profile assignments in his twenty-one years of service, where he provided arm's length protection worldwide for Presidents George Herbert Walker Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, and George W. Bush, both as a member of the PPD and the Counter Assault Team, Dan Emmett describes the professional, physical and emotional challenges faced by Secret Service agents. Included are never before discussed topics such as the complicated relationship between presidents, first ladies and their agents, the inner workings of Secret Service protective operations as well as the seldom-mentioned challenges of the complex Secret Service cultural issues faced by an agent’s family. Within Arm's Length also shares firsthand details about conducting presidential advances, dealing with the media, driving the President in a bullet-proof limousine, running alongside him through the streets of Washington, and flying with him on Air Force One.

Within Arm’s Length is the essential book on the United States Secret Service. This revealing and compelling inside look at the Presidential Protective Division, along with spellbinding stories from the author’s career, gives the reader an unprecedented look in to the life and career of an agent in America’s most elite law enforcement agency.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this deep look at the Secret Service's operations, Emmett, a veteran agent of more than two decades, examines the recent history of the agency responsible for protecting those in the White House. A native of Gainesville, Georgia, as a child he was impressed by the lone Secret Service agent shielding the mortally wounded President Kennedy and his wife with his body on that fateful day in Dallas. He became a Marine before joining the agency in 1983. Some of the most noteworthy passages in the book address the making of an agent, their rigorous training, and the numerous postings in regional offices. Emmett makes note of the routine investigations the Secret Service conducts and the tense protection roles provided for the president and vice president while offering anecdotes about guarding Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush. The agents also serve as caretakers for former presidents and their families, even when the subjects indulge in dangerous behavior after leaving office. Emmett's engaging account is a reminder of the constant threats this esteemed agency faces and the effort each agent puts into their work. (June)
Kirkus Reviews
The story of the men and women who swear to lay down their lives for the president.Emmett presents himself as the epitome of the Secret Service: patriotic, motivated and self-serious; his intention here is to "[capture] the unique culture of the organization." Following an officer's commission in the Marines, he secured entry into the Secret Service through sheer persistence, fulfilling a childhood dream rooted in the traumatic memory of the Kennedy assassination. He even married a fellow agent, with whom he has a combined 42 years of service. Although all agents customarily spend several years investigating crimes like check fraud, Emmett pushed for a transfer to the Counter Assault Team, the counterterrorism unit that follows the presidential motorcade: "Of all the agents in the Secret Service," he writes, "these men's motives for being there were perhaps the purest of all." With CAT, Emmett was on unusual high-risk protective missions, such as going to Haiti with Vice President Dan Quayle. Yet the author claims the unit's unique capabilities went unappreciated by the agency's meddlesome upper management, a consistent theme throughout the book. Following CAT, Emmett moved to the Presidential Protective Division. Emmett clearly presents the logistics, training and equipment that comprise the PPD agent's working life, testifying to the long hours and physical privations beneath the glamour. However, he's clearly unwilling to tell tales out of school about presidents George Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, all of whom he personally protected (although he discusses the security nightmare created by Clinton's love of jogging), and too often the narrative is generalized and anecdotal rather than specific. Emmett's personalized perspective is that of a martinet, generally scornful toward those he encounters (excepting presidents, Marines and fellow agents) and frequently complaining about "political correctness" and media scrutiny compromising the Secret Service.A sternly narrated account that captures the grim, insular nature of the American security state at its most elite levels.
From the Publisher
"Controversial." —-Inside Edition
Library Journal
Retired Secret Service agent Emmett, who served Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, has revised and expanded his self-published 2012 book of the same title and added a brief section on his post-Secret Service career in the CIA. This is not a "kiss and tell" narrative that discloses Secret Service secrets; rather, it reveals the human side of the profession, describing the culture of the organization, the dynamics of ordinary interaction with presidents and VIPs, and the daily grind of protecting the commander in chief. While investigations of financial crimes make up the bulk of Secret Service work, Emmett's love and the pinnacle of his career was protecting the president, work that he characterizes as filled with frustration, excitement, apprehension, and fatigue. A traditionalist, Southerner, and marine veteran, the author is critical of both political correctness and the relaxation of old-school standards in the training and administration of the organization. He writes that during his time with the CIA, he was at the "tip of the spear" in Afghanistan but gives almost no information about what he actually did in that capacity. VERDICT Emmett's book, which succeeds in making vivid the life and culture of the anonymous, earpiece-wearing men and women clustered around the president, will be popular with readers who are interested in the Secret Service as an organization and those who protect the president.—Mark Jones, Mercantile Lib., Cincinnati
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250044716
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 6/10/2014
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 63,240
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

After a stint in the Marine Corps, DAN EMMETT joined the United States Secret Service, serving on the elite Counter Assault Team before being selected for the most coveted of all assignments in the Secret Service, the Presidential Protective Division. After 21 years as an agent, Emmett retired from the Secret Service and joined the CIA for six more years. Today, the author is an adjunct professor as well as a security consultant for both private industry and the United States Government.

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Table of Contents



Chapter 1:  The Death of a President and Birth of a Career

Chapter 2:  College, the Marine Corps, and Ronald Reagan

Chapter 3:  Never Give Up Unless You Are Dead. 

Chapter 4:  The Charlotte Field Office

Chapter 5:  Special Agent Training

Chapter 6:  Back to Charlotte

Chapter 7:  The New York Field Office

Chapter 8:  The Counter Assault Team (CAT)

Chapter 9:  The Agent Who Loved Me … Eventually

Chapter 10:  Human Shields and Operant Conditioning

Chapter 11:  The Boldness of the Presidency

Chapter 12:  The Presidential Protective Division (PPD)

Chapter 13:  Shaping The Next Generation

Chapter 14:  Retirement and the CIA


About the Author

Appendix 1:  A Brief History of the Secret Service

Appendix 2:  Glossary of Terms

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 1, 2014

    Great Writing....!... Wonderful...! LOVE it...!

    Great Writing....!... Wonderful...! LOVE it...!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 12, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Very Good

    True story of one man's career and events he was involved in. Easy Read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 7, 2014

    Plz master tell me what i am suposed to do this game willow

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2014

    Super informative!

    What an interesting career this author has had!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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