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Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan

4.13  ·  Rating Details ·  1,828 Ratings  ·  248 Reviews
A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book for 2011
A Richmond Times Dispatch Top Book for 2011

A minute-by-minute account of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, to coincide with the thirtieth anniversary

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 Hote
ebook, 320 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published March 5th 2011)
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May 09, 2011 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Freedom is Too Good for Hinckley. Thirty years after he shot my father Ronald Reagan, he spends one-third of the year as a (mostly) free man."
So begins a Viewpoint in Time Magazine's April 4, 2011 issue by Patti Davis. Davis continues, "One of his victims, the main target -- my father -- died more than six years ago. Three others remain. Former White House press secretary James Brady is 70. The most gravely wounded and the first one shot, he sustained a massive brain injury that left him paraly
Feb 05, 2012 Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book easily clocks in at five stars. Reading almost like a top notch thriller this book absolutely captivated me. For those that remember the day Reagen was shot, I was still in high school, this is the untold story. Kept back from the press and the public, for good reason, the true events of how we almost lost one of our Presidents is laid bare in these pages. Go into the surgery room as the doctors attempted to save the lifes of Reagen and Press Secretary Brady. Feel the raw emotion as th ...more
Dan Curnutt
Mar 03, 2011 Dan Curnutt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are days that you will never forget, such as 9/11. The day that President Reagan was shot is one of those. The picture on the cover of the book speaks a 1,000 words. If it were not for the quick action of Secret Service Agent Jerry Parr our nations history and that of the world would be different. If President Reagan had died we might still have the Berlin Wall.

This book is a historical document that reads like a best selling novel of the highest caliber. Wilber has done his research well
Jun 06, 2013 happy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-general
This is a very engaging behind the scenes look at the day President Reagan was shot. It does not delve into Reagan’s policies, but gives almost a minute by minute account of that day.

In addition to the shooting itself, the author looks at the main personalities that were involved. John Hinkley and how he came to be there, the doctors and nurses at George Washington Hospital, the Secret Service Agents and of course President Reagan.

Mr. Wilber brings the chaos that was the emergency room/trauma ce
Aug 01, 2014 Joe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: listened-to
Book twenty-two of my presidential challenge.

Ronald Reagan was the President during my formative years but I remember little about him. I vaguely remember that it seemed like the President was a grandpa-type figure in that he was old and always had a corny one-liner that seemed to work despite itself. Modern day Republicans revere him like a God even if they mostly seem to have forgotten his policies and use him as a sounding board to simply state their own opinions. That has made me almost refl
May 09, 2011 Grace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the early 1980s, the US economy was suffering from a severe recession. The newly elected president, Ronald Reagan, only two months after his inauguration, had received a very low approval rating of only 59. This was an extremely low rating for a newly elected president. [Del Quentin Wilber], in his well-researched book [Rawhide Down], makes apparent that the events of March 30, 1980, and the weeks following, aided in raising and maintaining Reagan's approval rating so much, that eight years l ...more
Oct 26, 2015 Vertrees rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating book. It is hard to look back knowing what we know now and realize that they didn't know what was going on at the time- that there could be a conspiracy, more shooters, etc. I am certain they had no idea it was a crazy guy trying to impress an actress. Trying to imagine how Jody Foster might feel at the time- that must have been (and still is) unreal. The medical part was fascinating and frustrating. It seemed like it really dragged along, but in the interview at the end with the ER ...more
Christian Petrie
Feb 16, 2015 Christian Petrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical
When I was helping my son with his project on the Cold War at the library, I came across this book. As kid, I remember hearing the news about the shooting, but I don't everything that went on. As an adult I'm was interested to see what I remember vs what happened. It is very different seeing everything that was involved.

This book gives the details of the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. In it you are given a break down of the events of that day. The book opens with Reagan waking up and en
Mar 13, 2011 Benjamin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A fast-paced minute-by-minute account of the shooting, an entertaining and informative read. Still, it's pretty superficial and kind of feels like part of the whole mythologizing program surrounding Reagan. I'm interested in finding out further background information on everybody's actions throughout and the political repercussions.
Aug 26, 2015 Rivka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Finished it it a day -- I could not put this book down. It was well written and the author somehow managed to make this historical account read with the excitement of a good suspense novel. It was compelling. I highly recommend this book. Read it.
Mary Ronan Drew
Apr 01, 2011 Mary Ronan Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Monday, March 30, 1981, was a cool day in the DC area. I was working in the library at TRW Washington Ops in McLean that afternoon, listening to the radio, thinking about a visit to the Jefferson Memorial and the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms, when a news bulletin on the radio announced that someone had attempted to assassinate the president at the Washington Hilton. I remember watching the TV news that evening and being appalled at the attempted murder of the president and the injuries ...more
May 08, 2011 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The nightmare of every Secret Service agent came true on March 30, 1981. A deranged assassin fired six shots at the President of the United States and Agent Jerry Parr reacted exactly the way he was trained, saving Ronald Reagan’s life and sparing the nation the tragic premature burial of another president.

Wilber delivers a comprehensive, detailed account of the day of the shooting and the controlled chaos following immediately after. President Reagan came closer to death than was ever reported

Rawhide Down: The Near 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 book of that terrible day. Now, coming from new interviews, Del Quentin Wilber tells the exciting story of a moment when the nation faced a terrifying crisis.
With clarity,
May 09, 2011 Chad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chad by: newspaper book review
Shelves: recent-history
This book was fascinating, well-written, and extensively researched. Includes behind-the-scenes look at the Secret Service and the medical team that treated President Reagan, as well as the Reagan staff on this chaotic day. Much more professional than In the President's Secret Service which I also read recently -- Rawhide Down simply reports the events, without an axe to grind.

This book was in the same vein as Columbine and Black Hawk Down: a detailed and intriguing account of a tragic event in
Feb 14, 2016 Kathleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book follows what happened to Reagan on the day he is shot by John Hinkley Jr. What is interesting about this book is it doesnt talk very much about Hinkley. I think there was a total of 10-15 pages explaining his actions leading up to the shooting and what happen to him while Reagan was in the hospital. The rest of the book follows Reagan. It describes the chaos in the emergency room and what was happening at the white house when no one was sure if Reagan would make it. It details his surge ...more
John DeDakis
Apr 21, 2011 John DeDakis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While the events described in this book were unfolding, I was doing Person on the Street interviews as a reporter for the NBC affiliate in Madison, Wisconsin. Now comes the full, moment-by-moment account of the near assassination of President Ronald Reagan near the beginning of his first term in office. The book is fast-paced and vividly detailed. What's especially insightful are the perspectives of the Secret Service agents and doctors who saved Reagan's life. Anecdotes of how Nancy Reagan reac ...more
Feb 18, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poor Jodie Foster, that's all I can say.

The recent shooting of the Arizona congresswoman and her constituents led to an outpouring of appreciation for the split-second bravery for those on scene and the unflappable precision of the hospital personnel who saved her life. A similar feeling of gratitude can go out to the folks depicted in this book, a breathless narrative about Ronald Reagan's near-assassination; Rawhide Down often feels more like a commendation than a dry recitation of facts.

It is
Bruce Gilbert
Apr 29, 2011 Bruce Gilbert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought Rawhide Down was a very interesting read and quite enjoyable. Rawhide is the nick-name given to President Reagan by the Secret Service.

Despite already knowing most of the events and the outcome of the March 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan, Rawhide Down offers new details and in depth information that surrounded that fateful day. The book is very precise and detailed and the part where the victims are brought into the hospital after the shooting is very graphic. Almost to
Leonardo Etcheto
May 08, 2011 Leonardo Etcheto rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Leonardo by: WSJ
Great storytelling, fascinating breakdown of the events. It is always interesting to read how some lessons are learned and other are not. Lots of preparation and precautions on who he meets inside, but little crowd control. Hinckley just wanted to impress Jodi Foster, and he was able to get of 6 shots from 15 feet away. I had not realized that ER’s were just barely being organized for true emergency care. Reagan was fortunate in that he had quick care, not the norm for the time. This book remind ...more
May 22, 2011 Becky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
I like well-written books about historical events. Based on amazing amounts of research and countless interviews, this book explains in clear, well-written prose everything that happened the day Ronald Reagan was nearly killed by an assassin. Some of this information is new, discovered by the author through the Freedom of Information Act. Surprisingly, no one has covered the assassination attempt in this much detail before. I had no idea that Reagan lost close to 50% of his blood and very nearly ...more
Mar 31, 2016 Kris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-2011
Having worked with Del for many years while staff writers at the Baltimore Sun, I always admired his eye for detail and ability to get it down on the page in short order. This book reads like a thriller even though I knew the end game. And yes I consider myself Del's friend, but if the book was bad I would just ignore it!
Jay Roper
May 09, 2011 Jay Roper rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Being a political junkie, and a huge Reagan fan, in addition idolizing the precision movements of the Secret Service, I found I could not put this book down and really enjoyed it. Its written in a time-line fashion based on recent declassification of the hospital reports, exhaustive interviews and a recently released audio tape recording from the Situation room in the White House that happened that fateful day 30 years ago! It really gives insider detailed information on how close we came to hav ...more
Suzanne Jacob
Feb 07, 2016 Suzanne Jacob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent and very well-written of the near assassination of Ronald Reagan. It covers Hinkley (the shooter) and his numerous psychological issues and dwells on the day of the shooting and the 6 weeks after. A great addition to the history of the 1980s and Reagan's term.
Gary Brittain
Apr 18, 2011 Gary Brittain rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want to know what happened on March 30, 1981 at the Washington Hilton then this is the book you need to read. I purchased this book and would have finished it one sitting if I had the time, however I did finish in 5 days!!

Del takes you right there and let's you know what happened with Pres Reagan, Nancy, Reagan's aides (especially Alex "I'm in control" Haig).

As a self proclaimed Reaganite, I would give this book 7 out of 5 stars!!!

If you get a chance to meet the
Robert Morrow
Apr 19, 2011 Robert Morrow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very tight, strong narrative of the events related to the attempted assassination of President Reagan. While not as broad or as socially significant as Hellhound on His Trail, the book is an exciting, dramatic read once you get into the story. The primary objection I had to the book was the introductory material, which was far too worshipful of Reagan than is proper for a history. All Wilber had to do was tell the tale: the man's courage and humanity during this crisis spoke for itself ...more
Sep 17, 2016 Don rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Had it not been for Nolan Crabb's glowing review, I would never in a million years have picked up this book which chronicles the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan which took place in March of 1981. I am not a Reagan fan and, while the event portrayed in this book is one I clearly recall, reading a minute by minute account about it would have seemed like overkill.

Let me assure you: this is well worth your time.

The author's background as a journalist is evident in his meticulous r
Sep 02, 2016 Nolan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just one inch! That’s the distance the bullet John W. Hinckley shot into President Reagan would have had to travel to kill him. The bullet lodged one inch from Reagan’s heart. Just one inch and a split-second decision contributed to saving the life of the 40th president.

About now, some of you are feeling real sure you won’t read a relatively sympathetic portrait of a president whose jokes as he was at the point of death translated into bravery and a sense on the part of many Americans that this
So weird. I swear I already wrote this review. And yet... there is no review. I blame it on triplet brain:).

I enjoyed this very detailed, minute-by-minute account of the events just prior, during, and after the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan. The medical information was clearly well researched which made me more confident that the rest of the book was as well. I found the whole account to be very interesting and well worth a read if you are into historical non-fiction.
Apr 06, 2016 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. We came very close to another assassinated President. Book moved at a nice place.
Fernando E.
A very good minute-by-minute account of that historic day. Lots of behind-the-scenes stuff most of us never knew or have ever been told. Told well - an interesting narrative that's not just for history nerds.
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Del Quentin Wilber is the New York Times-bestselling author of Rawhide Down, an account of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. An award-winning reporter who previously worked for The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post, Bloomberg News , he now covers the justice department for The Los Angeles Times.
His next book, A Good Month For Murder, will be published in June.
He lives in suburban Ma
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