I really didn’t know what to expect with this book. Was it going to be a tell all? Was it going to be so mild that I didn’t really learn anything new? The time of the Kennedy’s was way before I arrived. All I knew was that I had to do a report on the Bay of Pigs in 8th grade (I had no idea what that was), JFK was assassinated in Dallas, and a few years ago Katie Holmes played Jackie O. in some mini series or something.
What I discovered was that I would never want to be married to a secret service agent. They are never home. Also, from what I can tell, a lot has changed in how the secret service does things since then. This, in addition to all the scandals and issues regarding the secret service in recent months, made this read all the more interesting.
The first two-thirds of the book were intriguing. It was interesting to get Hill’s take on the first lady and to see how his view of the assignment changed. I found myself wanting to know more about Mr. Hill’s family though. I had questions about them, and the time he spent with them. How in the world did he manage to conceive a second child while he was assigned to Jackie K.? However, I believe that was deliberately left out. This book was supposed to be about Mrs. Kennedy and him.
I also found myself asking, “What is he not saying? What has he left out?” We’ve all heard the rumors about JFK and the ladies. However, not one word was mentioned on this subject. It was a strange life the Kennedy’s were leading. Strange to this small town midwestern girl, but he didn’t mention any personal scandal. Of course, considering how close he was to the family that is understandable.
It was the last part of the book that really impacted me. Not having been around during this time in history, I really had no feeling one way or another concerning this first family or this assassination. However, throughout the book, without me realizing it, Agent Hill was making me care. Through his insight on the first lady he was building a connection between me and this significant part of American history.
I blubbered through the last third of the book. I was a sniveling mess. I felt like calling all my friends and family and asking if they had heard, “President Kennedy was assassinated in the most gruesome way. In front of the first lady! It was awful! Those poor children!”
“Honey (I turned to my husband in bed) did you know President Kennedy was assassinated?” He just rolled his eyes at me and went back to his book. Me crying in bed while reading isn’t really something new…
What I found poignant, and appropriate, was the way Hill (and McCubbin) handled the aftermath of the shooting. He seemed honest and forthright. There was no sugar-coating the gruesome details. He shared them, and he shared his feelings. Only once was Oswald mentioned. Hill shared the moment when he learned that Oswald was dead. But this was swiftly shared and passed by. Oswald was unimportant. What was important was the family, the grieving nation.
I liked that about the book.
Those of you who lived through this period may not find this book as interesting as I did. You probably have memories of the time and know more details having lived through it. For me though, it was an eye opener and worth the read.
But I still want to know what he didn’t share. I know. This wanting to know is national disease I think…