New York Times best selling author Brad Meltzer releases his newest book "The Inner Circle," in which he reveals untold secrets about the U.S. presidency.
Read an excerpt of the book below and then check out the "GMA" Library for more great reads.
He knew the room was designed to hold secrets. Big secrets. The briefcase from Watergate was opened in a room like this. Same with the first reports from 9/11. He knew that this room -- sometimes called the Tank or the Vault -- held presidential secrets, national secrets, and pine-box secrets, as in, the kinds of secrets that came with coffins.
But as he stood in the back corner of the small, plain beige room, swaying in place and flicking the tip of his tongue against the back of his front teeth, the archivist with the scratched black reading glasses knew that the most vital thing in the room wasn't a classified file or a top-secret sheet of paper -- it was the polished, rosy-cheeked man who sat alone at the single long table in the center of the room. He knew not to talk to the rosy- cheeked man.
He knew not to bother him.
All he had to do was stand there and watch. Like a babysitter. It was absurd, really. But that was the job. For nearly an hour now. Babysitting the most powerful man in the world: the President of the United States.
Hence the secure room.
Yet for all the secrets that had been in this room, the archivist with the scratched black-framed reading glasses had no idea what he'd soon be asked to hide.
With a silent breath through his nose, the archivist stared at the back of the President, then glanced over at the blond Secret Service agent on his far right.
The visits here had been going on since President Orson Wallace was first elected. Clinton liked to jog. George W. Bush watched baseball games in the White House Residence. Obama played basketball.
All Presidents find their own way to relax. More bookish than most, President Orson Wallace traveled the few blocks from the White House and came to the National Archives to, of all things, read.
He'd been doing it for months now. Sometimes he even brought his daughter or eight-year-old son. Sure, he could have every document delivered right to the Oval Office, but as every President knew, there was something about getting out of the house. And so the "reading visits" began. He started with letters that George Washington wrote to Benedict Arnold, moved to classified JFK memos, and on to today's current objects of fascination: Abraham Lincoln's handwritten Civil War notes. Back then, if there was a capital case during a court-martial, the vote of "life or death" would come straight to Lincoln's desk. The President would personally decide. So in the chaos of President Wallace's current life, there was apparently something reassuring about seeing the odd curves and shaky swirls in Lincoln's own handwriting.
And that, as Wallace scribbled a few personal notes on his legal pad, was a hell of a lot more calming than playing basketball.
"Four more minutes, sir," the blond Secret Service agent announced from the back corner, clearing his throat. President Wallace nodded slightly, beginning to pack up, but never turning around. "Is Ronnie joining us or no?"