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Yet Johnson and Mr. Hill became friends as they worked together, and when he returned to Texas, the president offered the agent the job of chief of operations at the LBJ ranch. He didn’t take it. The book is full of anecdotes, recollections and accounts of the intricate planning for the agents that went into a presidential campaign trip. It vividly recalls the days of Kennedy, a president who loved motorcades in an open car, inherited the Cold War and was sharply tested by the Cuban missile crisis which, Mr. Hill contends brought the United States within an “eyelash” of nuclear war.

Mr. Blaine also notes grimly that today the tools of the assassin are far more sophisticated, at least one reason why the Secret Service now has around 4,000 agents, compared with 400 in 1963, and a budget of about $1.6 billion.

The book does not offer any salacious details about the much-discussed private life of the Kennedys. Mr. Blaine takes the position that the president has a right to privacy, and it is the responsibility of the Secret Service to ensure he has it. There is a terse reference to the famous “happy birthday” sung to President Kennedy by Marilyn Monroe, who was wearing a skintight sequined gown. Mr. Blaine acknowledges he was on duty that glamorous night, and with characteristic Secret Service circumspection, reports, “Miss Monroe left before the other guests.”

Muriel Dobbin is a former White House and national political reporter for McClatchy newspapers and the Baltimore Sun.