Monday, December 1, 2014

Book Review: The First Family Detail by Ronald Kessler

Published: August 5th, 2014
Publisher: Crown Forum
Read from October 27th to November 16th, 2014
Synopsis from publisher:
As in a play, presidents, vice presidents, and presidential candidates perform on stage for the public and the media. What the nation’s leaders are really like and what goes on behind the scenes remains hidden. Secret Service agents have a front row seat on their private lives and those of their wives and children.

Crammed with new, headline-making revelations, THE FIRST FAMILY DETAIL: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of the Presidents by Ronald Kessler tells that eye-opening, uncensored story.

Since publication of his New York Times bestselling book In the President’s Secret Service, award-winning investigative reporter Ronald Kessler has continued to penetrate the wall of secrecy that surrounds the U.S. Secret Service, breaking the story that Secret Service agents who were to protect President Obama hired prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia and revealing that the Secret Service allowed a third uninvited guest to crash a White House state dinner.

Now in this new book, Kessler presents far bigger and more consequential stories about our nation’s leaders and the agency sworn to protect them. Kessler widens his scope to include presidential candidates and former presidents after they leave the White House. In particular, he focuses on first ladies and their children and their relationships with the presidents.

From observing Vice President Joe Biden’s reckless behavior that jeopardizes the country’s safety, to escorting Bill Clinton’s blond mistress at Chappaqua, to overhearing First Lady Michelle Obama’s admonitions to the president, to witnessing President Nixon’s friends bring him a nude stripper, to seeing their own agency take risks that could result in an assassination, Secret Service agents know a secret world that Ronald Kessler exposes in breathtaking detail.


This book reads like pretty much any tabloid you would pick up in the checkout line of a store except it's about those protected by the Secret Service, who aren't mentioned all that often in the tabloids. This book really doesn't have all that much to offer. I read it because I was intrigued by the idea of it enough, but I don't think I'd make the same choice again. It felt more like a waste of time than anything else.

The author clearly has a bias that comes across in the writing. Every single person talked about seems to be a straight up villain or a saint. It's also all over the place and jumps around. You never know who the author is going to be talking about because it changes so frequently. I'm also pretty sure that the author complained about how the Secret Service is run more than anything else. It kind of felt like the author wanted to write a book all about how the Secret Service is doing a terrible job because it isn't being run correctly these days, but he didn't think it would sell so he wrote this instead. For the most part I hardly even felt like the book fit the synopsis.

If you're someone who has a guilty pleasure about tabloids and want something that involves politics, then maybe you'll get some enjoyment out of this. Most people won't I don't think, and you definitely shouldn't go into it expecting much of anything at all. It's also not something you read and trust all that much at all. If that sounds like you're kind of thing than maybe you should pick this up.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

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