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Protecting the Presidential Candidates (Hardback)

From JFK To Trump

Frontline Books Politics American History

By Mel Ayton
Frontline Books
Pages: 312
Illustrations: 16 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399014083
Published: 30th September 2021


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RRP £25.00

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Protecting the Presidential Candidates is the first book of its kind to examine how presidents and presidential candidates were protected during the presidential election cycles – from JFK to Biden. It is also the first book of its kind to tell the story of the role of state troopers and private bodyguards in protecting presidential candidates.

Protection for candidates changed and evolved from the free-wheeling style of the 1950s and early 1960s, which afforded presidential candidates little or no protection, to the growth of bodyguard personnel, increased intelligence facilities and state of the art technology employed today to keep the candidates safe. Presidential candidates relish connecting with the public and it has given greater visibility to the bodyguards who are willing to place themselves between a presidential candidate and a would-be attacker.

In the milieu in which the Secret Service operates, bodyguards have witnessed the terrors of election campaigns when presidential candidates have waded into crowds to shake hands with their supporters, rode in open-top cars, and made sudden but risky changes to their schedules – oblivious to the fact that in every campaign there have been people stalking candidates with ill intent.

Many stories revealed in Protecting the Presidential Candidates have remained largely hidden from the public; some buried in newspaper archives and others in oral histories, presidential libraries or official government documents. The author draws on numerous sources, including FBI files, presidential biographies, vice presidential biographies, civilian bodyguard memoirs, Secret Service agent memoirs, White House staff memoirs and more so that these stories can now be told.

The book also allows readers to gain an insight into the personal as well as professional relationships between the candidate and the bodyguards who protected them. Some candidates were so trusting of their bodyguards they embraced them as part of an ‘inner circle’ of advisers. Bodyguards have also witnessed embarrassing moments in a candidate’s campaign and how intrusive they have been at the most delicate of moments. ‘The president’s day is your day,’ one agent said. 'Nobody sees the president the way an agent does.'

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About Mel Ayton

Mel Ayton has a master's degree in history from Durham University and is a former US Fulbright Teacher, deputy principal and college lecturer. He has worked as a historical consultant for the BBC, NBC News, National Geographic Channel and the Discovery Times Channel. Ayton’s books and articles have received praise from numerous media outlets including Fox News, The Michael Medved Show, The Peter Boyles Show, The Daily Express, The Daily Mail, USA Today, The New York Observer, TIME magazine, The Pittsburgh Tribune, The New York Post, Israel’s Haaretz newspaper and George Mason University's History News Network. His work has also been favourably reviewed by leading true crime authors Max Holland, David Aaronovitch, Gus Russo, Dan Moldea, Mark Olshaker, John Douglas, Professor John McAdams and Harvard Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz. In December 2011 California’s Deputy Attorney General, Jamie Fuster, requested Ayton’s assistance in preparing a brief challenging Sirhan Sirhan’s claim that he is innocent of the murder of Senator Robert F. Kennedy. The California courts eventually dismissed Sirhan’s request in 2015.

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