Five Days in November

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About The Book

Don’t miss the New York Times bestseller Five Days in November, where Secret Service agent Clint Hill tells the stories behind the iconic images of those five infamous, tragic days surrounding JFK’s assassination, published for the 50th anniversary of his death.

On November 22, 1963, three shots were fired in Dallas, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the world stopped for four days. For an entire generation, it was the end of an age of innocence.

That evening, a photo ran on the front pages of newspapers across the world, showing a Secret Service agent jumping on the back of the presidential limousine in a desperate attempt to protect the President and Mrs. Kennedy. That agent was Clint Hill.

Now Secret Service Agent Clint Hill commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the tragedy with this stunning book containing more than 150 photos, each accompanied by Hill’s incomparable insider account of those terrible days. With poignant narration accompanying rarely seen images, we witness three-year-old John Kennedy Jr.’s pleas to come to Texas with his parents and the rapturous crowds of mixed ages and races that greeted the Kennedys at every stop in Texas. We stand beside a shaken Lyndon Johnson as he is hurriedly sworn in as the new president. We experience the first lady’s steely courage when she insists on walking through the streets of Washington, DC, in her husband’s funeral procession.

A story that has taken Clint Hill fifty years to tell, this is a work of personal and historical scope. Besides the unbearable grief of a nation and the monumental consequences of the event, the death of JFK was a personal blow to a man sworn to protect the first family, and who knew, from the moment the shots rang out in Dallas, that nothing would ever be the same.

Excerpt

Five Days in November Introduction
It makes no difference how old you are, or what you have experienced, there are times in your life that affect you so deeply that, no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try to erase them, your mind will never let the memories fade. For me, there were five days in November 1963, when I was thirty-one years old, that are seared into my mind and soul. In the blink of an eye, everything changed, and in the fifty years since, those days remain the defining period of my life. As fate would have it, the photos snapped by journalists, witnesses, and bystanders during those five days are like the scrapbook that is in my mind. I was thrust onto the pages of history and have spent the majority of my life keeping silent about what I witnessed.

Recently, however, I have come to realize that the grief I’ve held inside for half a century is shared by nearly everyone who was alive at that time, and that those days marked a defining period not just for me but for all of us. It has been a reluctant journey, but now, despite how painful it is, still, to relive those days, I understand that my memories are important to history.

President Kennedy’s election in 1960 coincided with the blossoming of a new era in American history. There was a marked difference between the outgoing leader—seventy-year-old President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a five-star general, a grandfatherly figure—and the incoming forty-three-year-old President John F. Kennedy, with his quick wit and charismatic smile. In his eloquent and stirring inaugural address, President Kennedy stated, “Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans . . .”

His words rang true to those of us in that younger generation. We could see his vision. Financially, we were doing better than our parents had done, the economy was growing, and even for those who were struggling, there was hope and promise ahead.

This was also the beginning of the television age—a time when Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver idealized the wholesome traditional families of the 1950s, while the nightly news brought images of civil rights clashes into people’s living rooms. The presidential debates between Kennedy and Nixon were the first ever shown on television, and the stark contrast between the younger, handsome Kennedy’s charming ease and Nixon’s apparent discomfort arguably tipped the election in Kennedy’s favor in the last critical weeks of the election.

President Kennedy recognized the power of television and its ability to connect him with the American people. He was the first president to conduct live televised press conferences without delay or editing, and people loved them. His quick-witted bantering with the press was so entertaining that college students and shift workers would rush home to tune in, while housewives scheduled their ironing in front of the television.

The American public was also enamored with the president’s beautiful young wife, Jacqueline, and their two children, Caroline and John. Clothing manufacturers produced copies of the first lady’s classic suits and pillbox hats so the average American woman could dress in “Jackie style,” while the press clamored for photos and tidbits of information about the family’s private activities. With their family’s private plane, and homes in Hyannis Port and Palm Beach, the Kennedys’ lifestyle was one that most Americans could only dream about. People couldn’t get enough of them. They were more popular than any television or movie stars; Jack and Jackie Kennedy were American royalty.

As the young American president and his elegant wife traveled outside the country, their popularity spread around the world. It was awe inspiring to see hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions, of people in foreign countries standing along a motorcade route just to get a glimpse of this man whose vision for freedom, liberty, and peace resonated with people of all walks of life, of all different races and religions. As the first Catholic American president, Kennedy was held in especially high esteem by fellow Catholics, and his photograph hung prominently in living rooms, shops, and restaurants around the world.

During the Kennedy administration, I was an up-close-and-personal witness to what later would be called “Camelot.” On November 21, 1963, I accompanied President and Mrs. Kennedy to Texas as part of their Secret Service detail. As Special Agent in Charge of the First Lady’s Detail, it was my responsibility to protect Jacqueline Kennedy, and I was with her constantly.

On November 22, when shots were fired during the motorcade in Dallas, there was a Secret Service agent who jumped on the back of the car, attempting to protect President and Mrs. Kennedy.

That was me.

Unbeknownst to me, an Associated Press photographer named James Altgens was on Elm Street in Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination. He heard the shots, saw me run, and snapped a photo just as I climbed onto the back of the presidential limousine. That evening, and the next day, this photograph ran on the front pages of newspapers all over the world. From that point on, I would forever be known as the Secret Service agent who jumped on the back of the car. And while that photo has become one of several iconic images that were captured on film during those pivotal days—moments of a national tragedy frozen in time—none of them standing alone tell the whole story.

On November 22, 1963, three shots were fired in Dallas, and the world stopped for four days. For an entire generation, it was the end of the age of innocence.

—Clint Hill

About The Author

Michael Collopy

Clint Hill is the New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Kennedy and Me and Five Days in November. A former Secret Service agent who was in the presidential motorcade during the John F. Kennedy assassination, Hill remained assigned to Mrs. Kennedy until after the 1964 election. He then was assigned to President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House and later to Richard Nixon, eventually becoming the Assistant Director of the Secret Service for all protection. He retired in 1975.

Courtesy of Barbara Vaughn Photography

Lisa McCubbin is the coauthor of four New York Times bestsellers: Five Presidents; Mrs. Kennedy and Me; Five Days in November; and The Kennedy Detail. A former television news anchor and reporter, she currently resides in the San Francisco Bay area. Visit her at LisaMcCubbin.com.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Gallery Books (September 2014)
  • Length: 256 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781476731506

Raves and Reviews

"A riveting, stunning narrative...among hundreds of books about the assassination, this is the most compelling because Hill lived it."

– Herald-Review

“Chronology, photographs and personal knowledge combine to make a memorable commemorative presentation.”

– Kirkus

"With clear and honest prose free of salaciousness and gossip, Hill (ably assisted by McCubbin) evokes not only a personality both beautiful and brilliant, but also a time when the White House was filled with youth and promise. Of the many words written about Jacqueline Kennedy, these are among the best." 

– Kirkus starred review of Mrs Kennedy and Me

"[Mrs. Kennedy and Me] conveys a sense of honesty and proves to be an insightful and lovingly penetrating portrait of the Jacqueline Kennedy that Hill came to know.”

– USA Today (3 1/2 stars)

"Talk about being unable to put a book down; I was enthralled with this memoir from start to finish."

– Liz Smith on Mrs. Kennedy and Me

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