Katie Reads: Mrs. Kennedy and Me

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The #1 New York Times bestselling memoir by Clint Hill that Kirkus Reviews called “clear and honest prose free from salaciousness and gossip,” Jackie Kennedy’s personal Secret Service agent details his very close relationship with the First Lady during the four years leading up to and following President John F. Kennedy’s tragic assassination.

In those four years, Hill was by Mrs. Kennedy’s side for some of the happiest moments as well as the darkest. He was there for the birth of John, Jr. on November 25, 1960, as well as for the birth and sudden death of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy on August 8, 1963. Three and a half months later, the unthinkable happened.

Forty-seven years after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the one vivid image that never leaves Clint Hill’s mind is that of President Kennedy’s head lying on Mrs. Kennedy’s lap in the back seat of the limousine, his eyes fixed, blood splattered all over the back of the car, Mrs. Kennedy, and Hill as well. Sprawled on the trunk of the car as it sped away from Dealey Plaza, Hill clung to the sides of the car, his feet wedged in so his body was as high as possible.

Clint Hill jumped on the car too late to save the president, but all he knew after that first shot was that if more shots were coming, the bullets had to hit him instead of the First Lady.

Mrs. Kennedy’s strength, class, and dignity over those tragic four days in November 1963 held the country together.

This is the story, told for the first time, of the man who perhaps held her together.

I picked this up from the library as back ground research on a novel I’m working on right now, and it ended up being a very engaging read. My high school history classes never seemed to quite get to the post World War II years, so I did not know a whole lot about Mrs. Kennedy going into this book. I loved getting a behind the scenes look at a famous historical figure, and learned a lot about what its like to serve in the White House at the same time. Although, not literally in the White House, as Mrs. Kennedy spent most of her time elsewhere, but what it is like to work for the first family. I loved hearing about Mrs. Kennedy’s travels. It was fascinating to read about all the planning and prep work that had to go into each trip, and the different things Mrs. Kennedy would do while she was abroad.

Hill presents a very positive view of Mrs. Kennedy, and in a lot of ways I agree that she was a remarkable woman. That said I was flabbergasted how often she or her husband would make requests without a second thought as to how difficult the requests would be for the people serving them. Hill may have always been happy to oblige but I was a little put off by how seemingly oblivious the Kennedys were in some instances. There were brief references to Hill’s family but not much detail was given on them. This is one place I would have liked more information – Hill is away from his wife and sons for months at a time yet we are never told anything about the strain that this must have put on them.

This book was well written and very interesting. It gave a very clear picture of what it was like to work for the Kennedys and the positives and negatives of being a secret service agent. Also, you would think I would have realized the ending would be sad because not a spoiler JFK dies, but nope I was still shocked and very upset.

Stay magical readers!

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