STANDING NEXT TO HISTORY: An Agent's Life Inside the Secret Service

Joseph Petro, Author, Jeffrey Robinson, With with Jeffrey Robinson. St. Martin's $24.95 (292p) ISBN 978-0-312-33221-1

A readable and frequently engaging memoir of the author's 23 years in the Secret Service focuses on his time in the personal protective detail, guarding President Reagan and his family. In detailing his four years in that capacity, Petro burnishes the image of the Reagans as personally agreeable, even admirable, and easy to deal with in a professional context. A particularly moving part of the book deals with the Geneva Summit at which Reagan and Gorbachev substantially thawed the Cold War, and the author's perspective on some of Reagan's mediagenic faux pas shed further light on a much-discussed aspect of the Great Communicator. The Reagans were not the only VIPs that fell into Petro's sphere—the Quayles didn't like being protected and did like vigorous sports (such as whitewater rafting, during which Marilyn Quayle once fell out of the raft). The author provides hints of tactical and ethical principles of the protection detail, as well as the internal politics of the Secret Service. He finishes with one of his most demanding jobs, protecting Pope John Paul II through a 10-day, 114-stop tour of the United States. This is a thoroughly readable narrative of professionalism in action in a delicate sphere of activity; notably, while this is Petro's first book, it is his college roommate Robinson's 19th. Agent, Ed Breslin. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/15/2004
Release date: 01/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 292 pages - 978-0-312-33222-8
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4299-0785-9
Hardcover - 503 pages - 978-0-7862-7613-4
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