It wasn’t until after media attention, including TV appearances by author Ron Kessler, had already put In the President’s Secret Service on the bestseller list, that the book received its first consumer review, a glowing one, in USA Today last week.

How did Kessler get such access to the usually tight-lipped agents? USA Today explains it this way,

A respected journalist and former Washington Post reporter, Kessler somehow instills trust even in wary civil servants and federal bureaucrats.

A review in Sunday’s Washington Post (“The Secret Service Spills its Secrets“) brings quite a different view. James Bumford, author of The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA, From 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, says the author got unprecedented access to the Secret Service from Director Mark Sullivan, during a time when the Bush administration was “hoping for some good, ego-enhancing publicity.” Sullivan thought Kessler, now the chief Washington correspondent for, “the #1 conservative news agency online,” and author of admiring books about Laura and George Bush as well as former CIA Director George Tenent, would deliver the goods.

Instead, Bumford says, Kessler,

.. simply milked the agents for the juiciest gossip he could get and mixed it with a rambling list of their complaints.

He also notes the potentially lethal consequences of such openess on the part of the Secret Service,

What is truly dangerous is the kind of National Enquirer-style gossip in Kessler’s book. In the future, without “trust and confidence” in their agents, presidents will want to keep them at a distance, out of spying range — and out of safety range, when split seconds may count.

The book is on the current NYT Nonfiction Bestseller List for its second week, at #4, down from #3 last week.

In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect
Ronald Kessler
Retail Price: $26.00
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Crown – (2009-08-04)
ISBN / EAN: 0307461351 / 9780307461353

Also available in audio from Tantor:

  • Retail: 9781400113125; $29.99
  • MP3 CD: 9781400163120; $19.99
  • Library: 9781400143122; $59.99

Book and audio are downloadable from OverDrive

One Response to “Another View of IN THE PRESIDENT’S SECRET SERVICE”

  1. JFK’s Secret Service Agent Talks | EarlyWord: The Publisher | Librarian Connection Says:

    […] stories to the grave. That code was broken earlier this year when several former and current agents spilled some juicy secrets to Ron Kessler for his book In the President’s Secret […]