A sternly narrated account that captures the grim, insular nature of the American security state at its most elite levels.

WITHIN ARM'S LENGTH

A SECRET SERVICE AGENT'S DEFINITIVE INSIDE ACCOUNT OF PROTECTING THE PRESIDENT

The story of the men and women who swear to lay down their lives for the president.

Emmett presents himself as the epitome of the Secret Service: patriotic, motivated and self-serious; his intention here is to “[capture] the unique culture of the organization.” Following an officer’s commission in the Marines, he secured entry into the Secret Service through sheer persistence, fulfilling a childhood dream rooted in the traumatic memory of the Kennedy assassination. He even married a fellow agent, with whom he has a combined 42 years of service. Although all agents customarily spend several years investigating crimes like check fraud, Emmett pushed for a transfer to the Counter Assault Team, the counterterrorism unit that follows the presidential motorcade: “Of all the agents in the Secret Service,” he writes, “these men’s motives for being there were perhaps the purest of all.” With CAT, Emmett was on unusual high-risk protective missions, such as going to Haiti with Vice President Dan Quayle. Yet the author claims the unit’s unique capabilities went unappreciated by the agency’s meddlesome upper management, a consistent theme throughout the book. Following CAT, Emmett moved to the Presidential Protective Division. Emmett clearly presents the logistics, training and equipment that comprise the PPD agent’s working life, testifying to the long hours and physical privations beneath the glamour. However, he’s clearly unwilling to tell tales out of school about presidents George Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, all of whom he personally protected (although he discusses the security nightmare created by Clinton’s love of jogging), and too often the narrative is generalized and anecdotal rather than specific. Emmett’s personalized perspective is that of a martinet, generally scornful toward those he encounters (excepting presidents, Marines and fellow agents) and frequently complaining about “political correctness” and media scrutiny compromising the Secret Service.

A sternly narrated account that captures the grim, insular nature of the American security state at its most elite levels.

Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-04471-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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