WITHIN ARM'S LENGTH by Dan Emmett

WITHIN ARM'S LENGTH

A Secret Service Agent's Definitive Inside Account of Protecting the President
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KIRKUS REVIEW

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 10th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-250-04471-6
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2014




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