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Book Review: Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin

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Mrs. Kennedy and Me recounts Clint Hill’s Secret Service assignment to protect Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy from November 1960 until Lyndon Johnson was elected in 1964. Written with dignity and respect, the book describes the challenges and rewards attached to guarding Mrs. Kennedy.

The detail about Mrs. Kennedy’s daily activities and overseas trips is extensive. Photos of her public and private life abound. Mr. Hill and co-author Lisa McCubbin write of her indomitable spirit, her coy humor and her grace. Hill clearly adored the whole Kennedy family and guarded them with diligence. He generously chronicles his time with Mrs. Kennedy. She was an expert equestrian, which forced him to find creative ways to protect her while riding. At one point, she mischievously bummed a cigarette off him while they were in a car out of the public eye. A lover of ballet, she teased him about his reaction to a performance she thought particularly moving.

He describes her beautiful outfits for various state functions. Clothing was an important part of her image. American’s adored her sense of style. She wanted to purchase some outfits while in Italy. Advising her against it, Hill found himself dispatched to women’s boutiques with Mrs. Kennedy’s shopping list.

A Secret Service agent must problem-solve in situations we can’t fathom:

• Determining on the spot whether or not it was safe for Mrs. Kennedy to touch a baby elephant during a trip to India.

• Safely transporting a horse gifted to Mrs. Kennedy by Pakistani President Ayub back to the United States.

• Keeping Presidential moments private while maintaining adequate protection for the family.

Mrs. Kennedy valued her privacy and wanted her children to have a normal life. Much of her time was spent away from the White House. Although this meant Mr. Hill would see his wife and children less, he never complained. It was simply part of the job.

If you are looking for rumors and bits of scandal supposedly tied to the Kennedy Administration, look elsewhere. Wanting to bring a balance to salacious gossip about that time and negative stories of the Secret Service’s response to the President’s assassination, Mr. Hill breaks his fifty-year silence. The memoir is a positive and honest assessment of the joys and tests he met as an agent. The memoir overflows with respect for the Kennedy family. Hill writes eloquently about the depression and guilt he suffered because he felt he didn’t move quickly enough to take the bullets that struck President Kennedy on that fateful day in November of 1963.

The author of this memoir is a consummate gentleman who humbly went about his duties. He was at that time, perhaps, Mrs. Kennedy’s closest friend. In Mr. Hill’s own words, “What started out as uncertainty for both Mrs. Kennedy and me, had turned into a comfortable and enjoyable working relationship based on mutual trust and respect.“

Readers, you will be moved by this personal tribute to an unforgettable First Lady. I highly recommend Mrs. Kennedy and Me.

About Holly Weiss