Petro, Joseph 1944–

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Petro, Joseph 1944–

PERSONAL: Born 1944.

ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Thomas Dunne Books, 175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010.

CAREER: Special agent for U.S. Secret Service for twenty-three years; currently head of global security and investigations for Citigroup. Military service: U.S. Navy; served in Vietnam and Cambodia; became lieutenant.


(With Jeffrey Robinson) Standing Next to History: An Agent's Life Inside the Secret Service, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Former U.S. Secret Service agent Joseph Petro recounts his long career as a protector of America's presidents in Standing Next to History: An Agent's Life Inside the Secret Service. A Vietnam veteran, Petro served in the navy as a lieutenant patrolling rivers and canals on the border between Vietnam and Cambodia. After his military service, he joined the Secret Service, where he entered the agency's investigative arm. An early assignment found him going undercover in John Kerry's organization, Vietnam Veterans Against the War. In the span of a twenty-three-year career, Petro worked his way up from the lowest ranks to a position that put him constantly next to presidents, government officials, and heads of state.

As part of his duties, Petro negotiated presidential protection with the former Soviet Union's KGB; protected Vice President Dan Quayle during Rajiv Gandhi's funeral, all the while surrounded by heavily armed bodyguards loyal to Yasser Arafat; coordinated the Secret Service's largest protective effort in history when Pope John Paul II came to the United States in 1987; and stood by during historic meetings between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev at the Geneva Summit as the end of the cold war neared. Petro has provided security for notable political leaders such as Nelson Rockefeller, Walter Mondale, Gerald Ford, and Henry Kissinger. Much of his book focuses on what he considered his favorite assignment: providing security for Ronald and Nancy Reagan. He discusses the often difficult logistics of security operations and stresses that safety of government figures must frequently take precedence over public visibility. Petro "shies from gossip but imparts just enough to imply his opinions of the people he guarded" during his long career, commented Gilbert Taylor in Booklist.

"While this account is short on detail, it is a fascinating portrait of Secret Service life," remarked Grant A. Fredericksen in Library Journal. A Publishers Weeklyreviewer called Standing Next to History "a thoroughly readable narrative of professionalism in action in a delicate sphere of activity," whether Petro was guarding a president during a sports outing or providing security for important political figures conducting history-altering business.



America's Intelligence Wire, January 20, 2005, Bill O'Reilly, "Back of the Book: Interview with Former Secret Service Agent Joseph Petro."

Booklist, January 1, 2005, Gilbert Taylor, review of Standing Next to History: An Agent's Life Inside the Secret Service, p. 792.

Library Journal, January 1, 2005, Grant A. Fredericksen, review of Standing Next to History, p. 129.

Publishers Weekly, November 15, 2004, review of Standing Next to History, p. 51.