The book I have in hand today is The First Family Detail by Ronald Kessler.
The title interested me but I must admit I didn’t spend much time checking out the author or the book’s description. That was a very poor judgment call on my part. In my mind’s eye I thought I was getting a nice behind the scenes book about quirky habits of the first families and the presidents as viewed by their Secret Service agents; maybe something on the order of Caroline Kennedy catching butterflies in a paper bag or Lucy Johnson learning to drive.
When I tore open the delivery package and pulled out the book, I cringed when I saw the author is named Ronald Kessler. The author has a reputation to be factually inaccurate and often cites information received by second and third hand accounts without verification. But…I selected the book from Blogging for Books, so I will give an honest opinion. Not really fair to judge a book by its cover or the author’s previous history, is it?
However, a few pages into the book I was already holding my nose.
One particular statement leapt out in the prologue, ” [Secret Service Agents are] required to sign confidentiality agreements, they are sworn to secrecy, but they opened up for this book.” Maybe I am full of horse feathers, but doesn’t confidentially disclosed information sound like an oxymoron to you?
The book is 263 pages long, excluding the index and secret service chronology.
The chapters are short, caustic, gossipy and derogatory. When someone is praised or revered it is because his or her pious life is used to highlight the derogatory and dishonorable behavior of someone else. Lady Bird Johnson is depicted as Mother Theresa’s first cousin to make LBJ look like Voldemort. Lady Bird could take care of herself! I lived in Texas for a while. I heard stories too.
I am going to admit I only completely read three chapters. I just couldn’t finish the book. I felt soiled and nauseous and in need of a deep cleansing shower.
I will tell you about those three chapters in some detail. Just to be fair, I did thumb through the remaining chapters and looked at the pictures. It didn’t look to me that things improved in quality and character.
The prologue opens in the Ozzie and Harriet world of the hamlet of Chappaqua, NY. Birds are chirping and Mr. Rogers, in his ubiquitous sweater, sits on the front porch of the general store waving. The scene is quickly ruined by the description of life in that hamlet as the Clintons move into the neighborhood in 1999.
If you hate the Clintons, you are going to love the prologue. If you are a Hillary supporter, you are going to view this as an opportunity to re-feed the same red meat to the haters.
Chapter 1 is named “Regular Joe Biden” and is about the author’s perception that Joe Biden puts this country at risk caring “more about his image than carrying out the only significant responsibility required of him as vice-president: to launch retaliatory strikes in the event of a nuclear attack.” His dereliction of duty centers on his desire for a more relaxed security detail around his own neighborhood.
After accusing Biden of being irresponsible, he charges that Joe and his wife are kind to the agents but his behavior is bizarre. The only example of bizarre behavior offered to justify this claim is that Biden likes to swim naked in his own pool. The horror of it was exposed in the press! US News and World Report reported on Aug 1, 2014 in big bold print, “Biden Swims Naked; Upsetting Female Secret Service Agents, Book Claims.”
Chapter 2 returns to Hillary Clinton opening with this statement, “If Joe Biden is inconsiderate with Secret Service agents, Hillary Clinton can make Nixon look like Mahatma Gandhi.”
Kessler supports this claim by pasting stories already in print from one of his other books. He reports “In the President’s Secret Service” that Hillary fired a White House usher for taking a phone call from Barbara Bush and repeats that story in this book. Citing from the same page in this other book, a stormy story about Hillary, an electrician and a light bulb is repeated.
Hillary is by no means a saint. If she has no redeeming qualities and is completely horrendous as charged, surely there would be other salacious material to report. Why play the same tune on the harp over and over?
Kessler tosses in a few bits of nasty dialogue and insensitive comments reportedly made to agents by Hillary (not saying she didn’t say them) before repeating yet another recycled story. This time the author admits to recycling from his book, The Secrets of the FBI. The unsubstantiated story suggests that Hillary’s emasculating comments led to Vince Foster’s suicide a week later. Her cruel taunts, not defended by me in any way, cannot be the precipitating factor in that poor man’s demise.
Chapter 3 opens with LBJ shagging anything in a skirt; often openly in front of the staff. The graphic descriptions of LBJ running around Air Force One or the White House offices in the buff turned my stomach.
When Kessler shares the Secret Service nickname for LBJ as Bull’s Balls, an affectionate name for his over-sized testicles, I had rather unflattering pictures cluttering my mind. But I was finished off with the repeated stories of his pissing off a boat in front of God and everyone or dictating to his secretary while defecating. Some things are better off left to the imagination.
I don’t read the National Enquirer and I certainly am not going to finish this book. I have much better ways to spend my time.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.