An agent who stood (as his 2014 memoir puts it) Within Arm’s Length of three presidents offers a pared-down version of his training and career.
Emmett reduces mention of family and domestic life to passing mentions, covers a post-retirement stint in the CIA in a few sketchy pages, and leaves out entirely the ax-grinding complaints about officious superiors and “politically correct” policies and practices that set the tone in his original account. What’s left is a stiff but not entirely humorless recounting of how he achieved his ambition to become a Secret Service agent—sparked in grade school by JFK’s assassination—after a tour of duty in the Marines. He then made his way up from investigating check fraud and counterfeiting (the Secret Service’s original raison d’être) to join the Presidential Protective Division to work both “shift” assignments and on more heavily armed Counter Assault Teams during the Bush and Clinton administrations. “Sometimes people think Secret Service agents are cold-blooded, steely-eyed bodyguards with large biceps and dark glasses,” he writes. But “real Secret Service agents do not wear sunglasses indoors.” As to the rest, readers can judge for themselves from his experiences and expressed attitudes. He closes with career-prep advice and a timeline that includes presidential assassinations, both attempted and successful, through 2009.
A serviceable account of a tough job for tough-minded people—rewarding but with a heavy load of responsibility. (Memoir. 12-15)