The assassination of one president, the resignation of another, and the swearing-in of the two who followed those traumatic events. Clint Hill was there, on duty, through Five Presidents.
After an extraordinary career as a Special Agent on the White House Detail, Clint Hill retired in 1975. His career spanned the administrations of Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Gerald R. Ford. A witness to some of the most pivotal moments in the twentieth century, Hill lets you walk in his shoes alongside the most powerful men in the world during tumultuous times in America’s history—the Cold War; the Cuban Missile Crisis; the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy; the Vietnam War; Watergate; and the resignations of Vice President Spiro Agnew and President Nixon.
It was indeed a turbulent time—and through it all, Clint Hill had a unique insider perspective. His fascinating stories will shed new light on the character and personality of each of these five presidents, as Hill witnesses their human sides in the face of grave decisions.
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About the Author
Lisa McCubbin Hill is an award-winning journalist and New York Times bestselling author. She is the author of the acclaimed biography Betty Ford: First Lady Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer and coauthor (with Clint Hill) of the New York Times bestsellers Mrs. Kennedy and Me; Five Days in November; and Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. She met Clint Hill while writing her first book, The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence (with Gerald Blaine). Previously, Lisa was a television news anchor, reporter, and talk-radio host. After September 11, she was a freelance writer in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In 2021, Lisa McCubbin married coauthor Clint Hill. Visit her at LisaMcCubbin.com.
Read an Excerpt
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.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Walking Beside History ix
Part 1 With President Eisenhower
1 The Secret Dead Body 3
2 The White House Detail 13
3 The Eleven-Nation Tour 23
4 The South American Tour 51
5 Spying on the Soviets 65
6 The Asian Trip 71
7 The 1960 Presidential Campaign 77
Part 2 With President Kennedy
8 On the First Lady Detail 87
9 Palm Beach 91
10 Traveling with the Kennedys: Europe 99
11 Hyannis Port 105
12 Traveling with the Kennedys: South America and Mexico 111
13 The Cuban Missile Crisis 121
14 1963: Great Expectations 127
15 Triumph and Tragedy 133
16 The Trip to Texas 141
17 Dallas 149
18 The Funeral 161
19 The Year After 167
Part 3 With President Johnson
20 The LBJ Ranch 183
21 Inauguration 1965 197
22 The Civil Rights President 201
23 A President's Burdens 207
24 Traveling with LBJ: Honolulu and Mexico City 221
25 Traveling with LBJ: Down Under 229
26 1967 247
27 1968 269
28 Loyalty 297
29 Last Days with LBJ 313
Part 4 With Presidents Nixon and Ford
30 Vice President Spiro Agnew 327
31 Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts 349
32 A Visit from Elvis 359
33 1971 375
34 1972: The Beginning of the End 383
35 A White House in Turmoil 397
36 The Unraveling of a Presidency 409
37 History Takes Its Toll 415
38 60 Minutes 425