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Monday, March 5, 2012

My review of "Walking With Presidents: Stories From Inside The Perimeter" (2008) by Mike Endicott

4.0 out of 5 stars Between a 3 and a 4----3 and a half?, March 5, 2012
By Vince Palamara "SECRET SERVICE/JFK/STEELERS/M... (South Park/Bethel Park, PA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME) This review is from: Walking With Presidents: Stories From Inside The Perimeter (Paperback)
As the leading literary Secret Service expert (civilian), I modestly recommend this book from esteemed former Secret Service Agent Mike Endicott, a name familiar to readers of former President Richard Nixon's book "In The Arena", as well as former Secret Service Agent (and Endicott colleague) Marty Venker's book "Confessions of an Ex-Secret Service Agent" (written with George Rush), as well as a book I am mentioned in on several occasions, Philip Melanson's book "The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Enigmatic Agency." While the book contains several typos (a minor point in the big scheme of things, as Endicott's book is self-published) and ends abruptly, albeit after 519 pages, I found the work to be more or less of value and interest for those with an eye towards presidential history (especially with regard to Nixon)and the Secret Service.

To his credit, Endicott names names (of many former colleagues) but does not give the game away (agency protective secrets), while mostly staying away from any tawdry or gossip-oriented anecdoctes. This is refeshing in this day and age of tabloid press and "tell all" books. That said, it is exasperating how Endicott ends the book---no post-1986 stories: the death of Nixon, how his career came to an end, etc. I cannot help but feel this was a "hazard"---a mistake?---from self publishing and many more pages---perhaps whole chapters---were inadvertently excised.

Keeping these factors into sharp focus, Endicott does admirably, albeit dryly, cover the period from 1965 (when he entered the Secret Service) until 1986 (when the book comes to a screeching halt). All told, Endicott visited over 100 countries, as well as all 50 states in America, protecting Spiro Agnew, Nelson Rockefeller, Walter Mondale, Dwight Eisenhower, Lady Bird & Lyndon Johnson, Edmund Muskie, Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, and, of course, Richard Nixon. I found most of the stories and anecdotes fairly fascinating and well told, although some of the Kissiner-related material became a tad long-winded.

Interesting details abound: Endicott was urged to join the Secret Service via his first wife's father Fred Nagle, an agent who we know (from reading Darwin Horn's book "Dar's Story") later left the agency in disgrace; brushing shoulders and working with a number of agents who protected JFK and/ or LBJ: Larry Newman, Paul Rundle, James Rowley, Jim Goodenough, Ernie Olsson, Brooks Keller (an agent made "infamous" via books by the aforementioned Venker and Dennis McCarthy), Ron Pontius, Bill Livingood(later the Sgt at Arms of the House of Representatives, Clinton-Obama), Bob Taylor, Bill Duncan, Dick Keiser, John Simpson, P. Hamilton Brown, Elmer Moore, Jimmy Johnson, Jack Ready, Ned Hall II, Bill Bacherman, James Cantrell, James "Mike" Mastrovito, David Grant, and Chuck Zboril; working with other noteworthy agents such as future Director Ralph Basham, Karen Toll, Marty Venker, Jerry Parr, Dick Lefler, Don Stebbins (later Executive Secretary of the AFAUSSS), Grady Askew, Chuck Rochner, and Larry Sheafe.

Ultimately, I would assess the book somewhere between a 3 (good) to a 4 (very good). That said, do not hesitate to get this if you are a Secret Service "buff" or someone who is interested in the true accounts of several prominent people in U.S. (and world) history. Mike Endicott seems like a good guy, too---thank you, sir, for your service to our country.

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