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by Del Quentin Wilber
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Leaders & Notable People
  • Author:
    Del Quentin Wilber
  • ISBN:
    080509346X
  • ISBN13:
    978-0805093469
  • Genre:
  • Publisher:
    Henry Holt and Co.; 1 edition (March 15, 2011)
  • Pages:
    320 pages
  • Subcategory:
    Leaders & Notable People
  • Language:
  • FB2 format
    1925 kb
  • ePUB format
    1456 kb
  • DJVU format
    1978 kb
  • Rating:
    4.8
  • Votes:
    497
  • Formats:
    mobi lrf mbr docx


Del Quentin Wilber has written a compelling and multi-layered examination of the near-assassination of President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. As a biographer of Reagan who was at the Washington Hilton Hotel that fateful day, I was fascinated by Wilber’s meticulous reconstruction.

Del Quentin Wilber has written a compelling and multi-layered examination of the near-assassination of President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981.

Del Quentin Wilber, with the world-class reporting skills he honed on the police beat and a fine sense of narrative, has taken a story we thought we knew and rendered it wholly fresh, vibrant, and revealing. David Maraniss, author of When Pride Still Mattered.

Twelve days after being fired upon, he was back at the White House looking sensational. He ultimately enhanced his popularity by rebounding with such courage, resilience and even good cheer.

by Del Quentin Wilber. A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book for 2011 A Richmond Times Dispatch Top Book for 2011. On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan was just seventy days into his first term of office when John Hinckley Jr. opened fire outside the Washington Hilton Hotel, wounding the president, press secretary James Brady, a Secret Service agent, and a . For years, few people knew the truth about how close the president came to dying, and no one has ever written a detailed narrative of that harrowing day.

Ronald Reagan was the only serving . president to survive being shot in an assassination attempt. There have been many assassination attempts on . presidents, four of which were successful: Abraham Lincoln, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, and John F. Kennedy. President Theodore Roosevelt was injured in an assassination attempt after leaving office.

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This past February marked the 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth. The occasion was marked by numerous tributes to his legacy as one of America’s most popular and respected presidents. But what if he never had the chance to earn that reputation? Two months into his first term, on March 30, 1981, Reagan was shot in the lung by deranged loner John Hinckley Jr. while exiting the Washington Hilton. It is a moment well remembered from contemporary news coverage. But Wilber manages to provide a wealth of fresh information on that traumatic event.

Del Quentin Wilber is an American journalist who writes for the Los Angeles Times. He rejoined the paper in August 2018 as an enterprise and investigative reporter focusing on criminal justice and national security matters. He previously covered the Justice Department for The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News. His second book, A Good Month for Murder: The Inside Story of a Homicide Squad, was published in June 2016. Wilber is a graduate of Northwestern University.

For the first time, a minute-by-minute account of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan

On March 30, 1981, President Reagan walked out of a hotel in Washington, D.C., and was shot by a would-be assassin. For years, few people knew the truth about how close the president came to dying, and no one has ever written a detailed narrative of that harrowing day. Now, drawing on exclusive new interviews, Del Quentin Wilber tells the electrifying story of a moment when the nation faced a terrifying crisis.

With cinematic clarity, we see the Secret Service agent whose fast reflexes saved the president's life; the brilliant surgeons who operated on Reagan as he was losing half his blood; and the small group of White House officials frantically trying to determine whether the country was under attack. Most especially, we encounter the man code-named Rawhide, a leader of uncommon grace who inspired affection and awe in everyone who worked with him.

Ronald Reagan was the only serving U.S. president to survive being shot in an assassination attempt. In Rawhide Down, the story of that perilous day—a day of chaos, crisis, prayer, heroism, and hope—is brought to life as never before.


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From a young age, I was attracted to politics. I remember rooting for Gerald Ford vs. Carter while still in elementary school. I remember Carter crying at his loss to Reagan. And even though I couldn’t vote for Reagan in either 1980 or 1984, I was a supporter so to speak. In fact, I joined the Army Reserve partly due to patriotism, a spirit that Reagan seemed to help stir up during his presidency.

Del Quentin Wilber’s book informed me about things regarding this attempt on Reagan’s life and his presidency that I did not know. I remember the attempt on his life but I had no idea how close we came to losing him until reading this book. Also, I was shocked to see how close that attempt was to the assassination of J.F.K. I recalled that James Brady was forever changed by the bullet that struck his brain, however, Rawhide Down goes into details about his injuries and how that evolved into the controversial Brady Bill. Reagan was transformative as a president but it didn’t occur to me how much public goodwill he earned as a result of this horrible day in his life and in the life of the nation.

Reagan’s demeanor in the hours, days and weeks after he was shot surprised, pleased and inspired a nation that was relieved that they did not lose yet another president to an assassin’s bullet. It is quite likely, as Wilber recounts in his book, that Reagan wouldn’t have been as successful or as popular as he was if it weren’t for Hinkley’s actions. I guess it could be said, what Hinkley meant for evil, God used it for good in Reagan’s presidency.

Speaking of God, both Reagan and the Secret Service agent in charge that day felt that God had a purpose. Read what Reagan thought that purpose was and how he sought to change the world thereby. Also, read how an agent found renewed purpose for his life after retirement borne out of this life-transforming experience.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in politics or history. Whether the reader likes Reagan, loathes him or even has a grudging respect for him, this book is a good read. I trust each one who reads it will be grateful that Reagan is not remembered as yet another president lost to an assassin.
Akelevar
'Rawhide Down' is an amazing story of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan and some of the events that surround it. We bought it because it includes some of the marvelous work of the amazing nurses who cared for President Reagan. The book contains many stories:
It gives a brief background of the initial trauma program at George Washington Hospital.
It includes some of the comic comments made by Reagan when he was hanging on to life. It talks about Ronald Reagan's attitude and care for the people around him.
One of the more interesting stories in the book is about Nancy Reagan and a nurse who attended to Ronald Reagan, years later the nurse was in a hospital that Nancy was touring and Nancy went over and hugged her. I had never heard anything complimentary about Nancy Reagan and I am intrigued.
Rawhide Down is an easy and fast read. You will finish the book with a little bit of insight into this famous President, the people who cared for him and the times that shaped this event. It would make a great Christmas present for your Kindle.
Purestone
The book is thoroughly researched and accurate in its details. It also is very readable. However, it does not go far enough in pointing out why this event was an inexcusable failure for the US Secret Service to provide 360º protection of the president. Fortunately, the USSS has managed to fill in some of the glaring holes which it overlooked in its performance at the Washington Hilton on March 30, 1981. But its failure to station a two-man protective intelligence division (ID) team in the crowd behind the rope line -- something which was standard procedure for all POTUS events at that hotel at that time -- was the reason for the gunman not being identified as a potential threat prior to the shooting. Even stationing one PI agent in that small crowd would have served the purpose. Hinckley stood there with his hands in his pockets for about 20 minutes before Reagan appeared. Hands-in-pockets is an obvious problem which any USSS special agent would have observed and dealt with, had one been there long enough, in the crowd. Even better would have been to remove the rope line entirely and require all spectators to cross T Street. Placing a public-access rope line 15 feet from the open rear door of the president's limousine, with hindsight, was insane.