Phillip Reid’s memoir is the story of a man who started life in humble beginnings and elevated himself to a Baltimore police officer, an FBI agent, and ultimately a senior officer in charge his own FBI field office. Along the way, he worked on some impressive cases, particularly the 1988 Pan Am flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Reid’s Baltimore childhood sets the book’s tone: After his father left, his mother worked two jobs and attended night school to achieve her dream of becoming a teacher, all while raising four young children. His mother’s impressive example of achievement propelled Reid throughout his life. While a poor student in school, he ultimately educated himself to pass the entrance exams for becoming a Baltimore police officer. From there, Reid set goals for advancement and worked hard to make them happen. “I’m hoping my story catches on with anyone who dares to dream and set challenging and aggressive life goals,” he writes.
As a work of inspiration and encouragement, this book is highly successful; everyone can relate to Reid as he shapes his life into what he wanted it to be.
Unfortunately, the parts of the book describing the cases he worked are less successful. These included the Pan Am bombing, the 1981 Brink’s armored truck robbery which was later connected to the Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army, an assassination threat on the life of President Reagan and Senator Alfonse D’Amato, and the 1988 Vail arson case. His examinations of such cases are written more as lists of steps taken, colorless and procedural, than a vivid, absorbing narrative of how he put the pieces together and solved them, or any deep insights into his emotions during the work. This leaves readers wishing for more.
Ultimately, though, this is a story of determination, of making your life what you want and refusing to accept anything less. Those seeking motivation to achieve their goals will find it here.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.