I picked up The Secret Service: The Hidden History of an Engimatic Agency $13 @ Amazon) from the library, had been hoping to find In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes with Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect. Interesting read in some places, a little slow in others, but it seems to be good overview of the history of the agency. The author takes the Secret Service to task a couple times for being behind the times in terms of their ability to evolve to met new threats. I think some of that fair and hard to argue with, but probably not as simple as that either.
I found a couple things interesting. One was some discussion of how Americans want their President to behave, basically they expect to see the big dog out and about and within hand shake distance at times even though it represents some level of risk. Another is imagine a job where you have to accept that a certain number of people would kill you if given the chance. Do you block it out? Seems hard to do so when you travel with that kind of security contingent.
But maybe the most interesting is to consider how do you keep an agency and team of protectors…searching for right word here, not motivated/committed, how about satisfied? How do you attract and retain people for a job with just about zero recognition, the very mission is to stay in the background, a job when the very people you guard often resent your presence and often make things hard for you because of political concerns? It’s hard enough at a plain old business, and that doesn’t have anywhere near the level of stress.a