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74 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and informative
This is both an informative book and a very entertaining one.

The action is very engaging as we learn what was going on in the hospital room with Reagan's doctor's and nurses, what was going on in the White House (for example, what lead to A. Haig telling the world that HE was in charge), what was happening with the shooter, and what was going on with the...
Published on January 26, 2011 by Terry L

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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fifth Estate view of the shooting
This book is more like a "drawn-out" newspaper report than a real investigation into history. it is fascinating to realize that the president was (a) not really that well protected and that (b) the hospital was not that well equipped (it was in DC) to handle a national emergency. Reagan himself was constantly saying "I can't breathe" so I don't think deciding to go to the...
Published on April 27, 2012 by Comac


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74 of 79 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and informative, January 26, 2011
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This is both an informative book and a very entertaining one.

The action is very engaging as we learn what was going on in the hospital room with Reagan's doctor's and nurses, what was going on in the White House (for example, what lead to A. Haig telling the world that HE was in charge), what was happening with the shooter, and what was going on with the Secret Service and the FBI.

The author is extremely good at making all the people involved seem like real people that we get to know instead of just stale characters in history. He is also excellent at describing the scene to the point that the reader can feel they are there. Reading this book is like watching a movie--only better.

Though the book starts a bit slow as it leads the reader up to the shooting, the author then kicks into high gear and keeps the reader reading on and on and on until the end. After the mild start, once I moved on into the book, I didn't want to put it down.

Some who may not be impressed with Reagan may be a bit annoyed that the author obviously holds Reagan in high regard, but even they should come away impressed with the author's insight into history.

I gave this book a 5-star rating because it was so enjoyable to read and I learned a bunch of stuff I didn't know. Also, I am not sure how it could be written any better.

This is a very well-written book that not only entertains but gives a wonderful view of history. I am impressed. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in this part of history, whether or not they like Reagan.

Well done.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, February 5, 2011
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Absolutely riveting -- I can't think of a better word to describe this book. I almost never give 5 stars in a book review, but here it is.

I got it to give to my dad, and I just opened the cover to glance over it...and the first page just sucked me in. I seriously didn't want to stop reading it (and I am EASILY bored). It reads like a gripping novel -- of course, everyone knows how it turns out, but it doesn't stop you from feeling the suspense of it all (kind of like the movie "Apollo 13"). I have such enormous respect for Reagan as an individual now (and I'm a Democrat!) ;-)

Amazing details of the events on and surrounding the day of the shooting -- the author really did his homework. He also did a great job of (presumably) editing out any NON-interesting details, as the book (besides the 53 pages of notes and sources at the end) is a nice, readable 229 pages. My pet peeve is non-fiction authors who don't know what to leave out.

I can't imagine that anyone interested in hearing more about Reagan's attempted assassination would not find this a great read. I didn't even think that I was interested in the topic at ALL, and I loved this book.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly detailed book about a single day in Reagan's life, February 9, 2011
By 
Eric Hobart (La Center, WA United States) - See all my reviews
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Just like with previous generations, people will always remember where they were when first hearing the news that President Reagan had been shot - I was in grade school, and it was a tough day for all of us.

Del Quentin Wilber has recreated that fateful day for all readers - those too young to remember and those who did indeed live through the event. Wilber's book is a very detailed recounting of that entire day - mostly about Reagan and the activities surrounding him, but also some of the activities about the man that shot the President.

Wilber has mined many sources to obtain the detail for this work, and his efforts pay off nicely. The book is written with a journalist's flare, and covers every topic from what Reagan did in the morning before his speech at the Hilton through the surgery following the attack and Reagan's quick recovery.

The reader is drawn into the book with the feeling as if s/he was actually there - everything from the sights and sounds to details about the cold-blooded thought process of John Hinckley, who claimed he was just trying to impress actress Jodie Foster when he set out to assassinate the President of the United States.

This is a great book about that fateful day, and well worth reading - whether you want to relive years gone by or if it's a new subject - you won't be disappointed in Wilber's account.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Six shots, March 19, 2011
By 
2011 is the year of Reagan. The hundredth anniversary of his birth occurred in February at the same time a laudatory book about our fortieth president, written by his son Ron, became available. But nothing is quite like Del Quentin Wilber's "Rawhide Down"...a riveting account of the day President Reagan's term and life almost ended.

Like Jim Bishop's book, "The Day Lincoln Was Shot", Wilber takes us not only chronologically through that awful day but gives us a perspective from all who were involved. There was an account of the president's day of course, and included also are the hours and profiles of the agents in the Secret Service. We learn much more about John Hinckley and are given terrific glimpses into the George Washington University Medical Center's staff and the men in the "sitaution room"...cabinet officers and others who had to decide what to do to keep the government running that day.

All this makes for a wonderfully dramatic presentation and the author keeps us readers on our collective toes (or at least keeps us turning pages) with his moving portrait of March 30, 1981. As a young adult then I remember the day vividly, down to the constant mistakes the media made in their reporting.

Wilber is a Reagan fan, to be sure, but it doesn't get in the way of his telling the story accurately. There were winners and losers in this near tragedy...Ronald Reagan "stole the show" as he survived (and survived with humor), making a full and fairly rapid recovery. The biggest loser was Secretary of State Alexander Haig, whose uneven and nervous performance before reporters at the White House gave the country exactly the wrong impression. Haig would be out of a job the following year and would never recover a positive public reputation.

Two questions I had arose while reading the book that Wilber never discussed. Why didn't Vice President Bush go to see President Reagan soon after he returned to Washington? One would have thought that he would after steering the cabinet through the crisis hours. (maybe he did) And why was there no direct contact with the Russians if the cabinet was so worried about the placement of Russian submarines? Didn't President Kennedy install the "hot line" with Moscow after the Cuban missile crisis?

All in all, this is one terrific book, packed with information. Wilber has captured the essence of our national crisis thirty years ago and I highly recommend "Rawhide Down".
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Could Not Put It Down, March 19, 2011
By 
g3 (Marquette, MI United States) - See all my reviews
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I read this book in one day. I could not put it down. I read many modern history books and books about federal law enforcement, which is why i chose this book to read.

The author did those topics justice, but what I found most interesting and unusual about this book was the way he explained every medical procedure so clearly. I hope he will write more books where he describes important medical procedures in such clear and understandable detail because he did such a good job with it.

Another fascinating part of this book was the author's access to and use of tapes made by Richard Allen in the (real) Situation Room at the White House on the day Pres. Reagan was shot. We all remember Alexander Haig's public statement about being "in charge", but to read word for word the back story and learn that Haig's colleagues in the cabinet were rolling their eyes at him, much like the world was, lets us all be flies on the wall.

One small suggestion for future editions: As i was reading the Situation Room stuff, I realized that the author was using real quotes (which seemed curious and made me wonder if the room was bugged); it wasn't until pages later [and then again at the end of the book] that he explained that Allen had taped the events of that day. I suggest that in the next edition the taping be explained when the first quotes appear.

It also annoyed me (& perhaps this is generational) that the author tried to make the identity of the girl in the photos in Hinckley's wallet a mystery when we all know, or at least i think we all know, that they were of Jodie Foster. So I found that literary device kind of insulting to my intelligence.

That said, this book amazes because in just over 200 pages of easy reading, the author packed in so many facts, many of which were previously unknown to me (like the many funny things Reagan said at the hospital, beyond the "Honey, I forgot to duck" which we all heard about at the time) and, again, because of his vivid depiction of the palace intrigue going on back at the White House while Reagan lay in the hospital.

So, my two very minor complaints (both of which could be cured in future editions, hint, hint) should not detract from my complete endorsement of this tome as a terrific accomplishment and a great read.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable, March 18, 2011
Don't let the title fool you. "Rawhide Down" isn't the memoir of a 1970s homosexual adult film star. It is, rather, a magnificently conceived and penned minute-by-minute narrative of the March 1981 attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. Thirty years ago! My God, I remember it as though it were last Tuesday.

The book reads like "The Day of the Jackal" or some other brilliant novel of suspense. Despite knowing the true-life fate of Charles de Gaulle, I was sweating bullets reading Frederick Forsyth's masterpiece. I had the same reaction reading Del Quentin Wilber's "Rawhide Down". Would the surgeon find the bullet? Hell, would the president survive? What impressed and delighted me the most was Wilber's skill in detailing a given event -- e.g., the president being examined on a gurney in the ER -- and then revealing that five minutes had elapsed. What! I thought the examination had gone on for five times that long, at least. Wilber did this time and again, and "fooled" me each time. How much can and does happen in a remarkably compressed space of time. After all, the shooting itself took 1.7 seconds. It doesn't seem possible, but lives can be altered or wrecked, and history changed or almost changed in 1.7 seconds. Somehow...I don't know...it should take longer.

The book is good from the beginning, but really takes off from the time of the shooting. At that point, Wilber alternates his narrative among the president fighting for his life; Alexander Haig, Richard Allen, and other of the president's men scrambling (not always successfully) to know, understand, and respond to the crisis; and the taking into custody of creep extraordinaire, John Hinckley. All the segments are well addressed, but none more so than the events involving the president.

And then what happens? Yes, one feels a bit like like Fred Savage to Wilber's Peter Falk in "The Princess Bride". Well, Wilber tells us that the president survives and returns home to the White House. And then what does Wilber do? Like all truly great storytellers, he brings his tale to an end and gently closes the book. And we can breathe again.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recalling the horrific events of March 30, 1981, February 2, 2011
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He had been President of the United States for a mere 70 days. Most historians agree that the Reagan administration had gotten off to a rather lackluster start and was struggling to gain traction. But all of that changed on the afternoon of March 30, 1981 when a crazed gunman named John W. Hinckley Jr. opened fire outside the Hilton Hotel in downtown Washington D.C. When the smoke had cleared four men had been shot including President Ronald Reagan. Now much to my surprise the comprehensive story of what actually happened on that fateful afternoon had never been written....until now. Author Del Quentin Wilber has corrected this glaring oversight with his terrific new book "Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan". Mr. Wilber is a superb reporter who has painstakingly unearthed a mountain of previously unknown facts about what just happened that day and has carefully crafted it into a compelling narrative that grabbed my attention from the outset and simply never let go. This is history that will excite and enlighten you.

Now just in case you are wondering about the title of the book the term "Rawhide" was the Secret Service's code name for President Reagan. Given Mr. Reagan's background as an actor (he starred in a number of western movies in the 1940's and 1950's) the Secret Service deemed this to be an appropriate nickname. In the opening chapters of "Rawhide Down" Del Quentin Wilber introduces us to quite a few of the major players in the drama that would unfold on that historic March afternoon. You will be introduced to a number of the President's most trusted advisors including Secretary of State Alexander Haig, his Chief of Staff James A. Baker III, Counselor Edwin Meese III, Deputy Chief of Staff Michael K. Deaver, Mr. Reagan's National Security Advisor Richard V. Allen as well as Vice President George H.W. Bush. All would have a role to play in the Administration's reaction to the assassination attempt. You will also meet a few of the Secret Service agents assigned to protect the President that day including Jerry Parr who was the agent-in-charge. Finally, you will discover quite a bit about the man who perpetrated the crime-- John W. Hinckley Jr. Hinckley was an aspiring songwriter with a very troubled past. Because so little has been written about the attempted assassination of President Reagan many of the sordid details surrounding Mr. Hinckley had completely slipped from my memory. For example, I had almost totally forgotten about his obsession with the actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley was willing to do just about anything to get her attention and win her affection and many believe that the attempted assassination of President Reagan was motivated by his desire to impress her. Obviously this guy was delusional and not playing with a full deck!

The second half of "Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan" presents in unprecedented detail the complete story of what went down during those critical hours from the time the shootings took place at 2:27 P.M. until the President was deemed out of danger later that evening. Author Del Quentin Wilber makes it abundantly clear that had it not been for the decisive action of the Secret Service and the medical team at the George Washington University Medical Center this story might not have had such a happy ending. Now in spite of the fact that he had been seriously wounded and had lost nearly half of his blood President Reagan managed to joke around with the doctors and nurses who were attending to him. His good humor helped to diffuse an extremely tense situation in both the ER and in the operating room as well. The President would earn high marks from the public for the graceful way he responded to the shooting. On another front, Wilber also spends considerable time focused on the actions and reactions of those administration officials who were put to the test during this time of extreme crisis. For several excruciating hours the nation wondered if the shooting was part of a much larger plot initiated by our enemies abroad and worried if another shoe was about to drop. While the reaction of some in the administration left a lot to be desired calmer heads ultimately prevailed and any thought of escalating the situation with the Soviet Union without justifiable cause were put to rest. Thank goodness! Wilber also discusses the catastrophic injuries suffered by White House Press Secretary James Brady who was shot in the head by Hinckley. Brady was a robust and popular member of the new administration and official Washington was devastated by the news of his extremely serious condition and long-term prognosis. Sadly, Jim Brady would never walk again.

As I mentioned earlier Del Quentin Wilber has done an extraordinary job of assembling all of the pertinent acts and telling this dramatic story. It would appear that Wilber left no stone unturned in his relentless search for the truth about just went down that day. Much of the information revealed in the book has never been seen or heard before. "Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan" is a thoroughly engaging, fast-moving and highly informative read. I simply could not put this one down. In my opinion "Rawhide Down" is an extremely important addition to the literature on political assassinations in this country. As such, I would consider this to be a "must read" for history buffs and a great choice for general readers as well. Very highly recommended!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great look at the assassination attempt on Reagan, February 5, 2011
A Kid's Review
Rawhide Down provides an excellent look at the day of Ronald Reagan's near assassination attempt at the hands of John Hinckley. It looks at the major actors involved from Reagan and Hinckley to the key secret service agents, doctors and higher level government officers that helped to run the country during this brief tragedy. Hinckley's motives and life as a loner is explored as well as his obsession with impressing Jodi Foster as his primary motive for killing Reagan. The book aims to provide a minute by minute account of what occurred and show the progression of events from transport to the hospital to the issues of succession raised by those left in the White House. For those interested in learning more about the attempt this is a great place to start and is concise and well written. The only thing I could have wanted more of is information on the assailant but nonetheless still a five star read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reads Like A Thriller, But Is All True, May 3, 2011
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"Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan" by Del Quentin Wilber reads like a thriller, but is entirely true. The entire book focuses on one single day: March 30, 1981. The day that President Reagan walked out of a hotel in Washington, D.C., after giving a short speech, and was shot by would-be-assassin John W. Hinckley, Jr. I, like most people, know of the assassination attempt. And as someone who met President Reagan, and has studied our former president more than many, I thought I knew a fair amount about that near tragic day. I sure didn't know the entire story, and now, thanks to Wilber, an award-winning reporter for "The Washington Post," I and everyone else can know the rest of the story, the entire story.

Through a ton of research, Wilber was able to write a detailed history about that single day. This book explores all of the key players and the important roles they played in saving President Ronald Reagan's life. The story also shows just how close our country was to losing another president to an assassin's bullet.

Again, it reads like a thriller, not a newspaper report. Wilber did not just relay the facts of the incident, but delves into each of the main character's life, motivations, feelings, and thoughts on that eventful day. This includes the President himself, the Secret Service agents protecting him, and saving him that day, all of the hospital staff that tended to and operated on the President, and saved his life. Wilber also explores what was going on with Hinckley himself, as well as others in the White House and how they reacted to the news of the shooting.

Wilber tells this electrifying story at an incredible pace, turning that single day into a page turner, even though you know that the President lives in the end. He paints a picture that show the heroic actions of the Secret Service agent who saved the president's life. (It's scarey to think that if that agent had made the wrong decision, we may have lost the President.) We learn of the others who were shot, and how the surgeons worked to save not only President Reagan, but the others as well.

I've learned a lot by studying about Ronald Reagan, and I still cherish the half hour I spent with him in 1993. "Rawhide Down" is an excellent book to add to the works on the 40th President, and I recommend it for anyone who has an interest in President Reagan naturally, but also for anyone wanting a thrilling read about a true assassination attempt and how all the pieces fit together to make it the "Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan."

Reviewed by Alain Burrese, J.D., author of a regular column on negotiation for The Montana Lawyer.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Resource for Reagan and History Buffs, April 1, 2011
By 
JAC (Austin, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
I received this book as an early reviewer and I can honestly say it's one of the best books I've read in the past year. As a history buff I know more about the near assassination of Ronald Reagan than maybe the average person my age but after reading this book I realize I really didn't know anything. The story of how Reagan almost died has never been told with the behind the scenes information and "can't put it down" suspense that this author has embedded in his narrative. I was thoroughly engrossed from beginning to end and came away feeling like I knew much, much more about that fateful day than I had ever known before. My greatest disappointment was that it ended too soon.
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