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Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan Hardcover – March 15, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1 edition (March 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780805093469
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805093469
  • ASIN: 080509346X
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (161 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #450,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Product Description

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.



Amazon Exclusive: Bill O'Reilly Reviews Rawhide Down

For more than 13 years, Bill O'Reilly has presided over The O'Reilly Factor on the FOX News Channel. He is the author of ten books, the most recent of which is Killing Lincoln: The Assassination that Changed America Forever (available September 27).

Rawhide Down is enthralling because of the tremendous detail that Del Quentin Wilber provides to the reader. We learn about President Ronald Reagan's daily habits, his grooming, his demeanor on the job, as well as how he reacted after being shot. We also see how the would-be assassin, John Hinckley, conducted himself in the days leading up to the shooting.

This is fascinating stuff and, as a history buff, I couldn't get enough of it. Most Americans have nearly forgotten that Mr. Reagan was on the verge of death after being shot by the unstable Hinckley, and the drama of how the president's life was saved is intense.

This book is a page-turner from beginning to end and I believe you will learn a lot about an event that came razor-close to changing America forever and certainly altered the presidency of Mr. Reagan. Rich in detail with reporting I have never heard before, Rawhide Down rewards the reader on just about every page. Trust me on this.



Review

"Newly revealing… Mr. Wilber reconstructs an episode much more serious and dire than it has been made to seem. The courage of the president, the delicacy of the situation faced by his doctors and the sloppiness of security measures are all given new attention… A fast-paced book that captures many points of view."—The New York Times (one of Janet Maslin’s Recommended Books for 2011)

"The chapters that detail the assassination attempt and its immediate aftermath read like a thriller. In clear prose, we learn that Reagan was far closer to death than was previously thought."—David Baldacci, The Washington Post

"A page-turner from beginning to end… You will learn a lot about an event that came razor-close to changing America forever."—Bill O’Reilly, author of the forthcoming Killing Lincoln: The Assassination that Changed America Forever

"A harrowing story, more so than it seemed at the time, and Wilber, a reporter for the Washington Post, has tracked down virtually everyone who had anything to do with protecting the President or with saving his life at the hospital."—The New Yorker

"In this eye-opening book of solid journalism, we learn just how close Ronald Reagan, code-named 'Rawhide' by the Secret Service, came to being the president with the second shortest time in office."—Bob Hoover, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"With a reporter's eye for detail and a screenwriter's talent for the cinematic, he invests such immediacy in Rawhide Down that the reader is thrust back 30 years in time."—Richmond Times-Dispatch

"A tense, riveting account of that day."— Dallas Morning News

"Detailed and dramatic… Mr. Wilber, a Washington Post crime reporter who writes clear, crisp prose, fleshes out his gripping narrative with a number of well-told side stories."—The Washington Times

"A riveting minute-by-minute account of the shooting and reveals that Reagan came closer to death than the public knew."—New York Post

"This intensely researched account yields an almost moment-by-moment account of the crisis."—New York Daily News

"A fast-paced read that draws well-crafted characters and gives a vivid sense of the history that brought the story’s heroes and Hinckley together that day."—The Washingtonian

"Gripping … A fascinating glimpse of a pivotal moment in history."—Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"This mesmerizing rendition of the event can be read in one sitting, as Wilber’s accuracy and craft provoke rapt interest."—Booklist

"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. He properly credits the valor and judgment of the Secret Service agents who saved Reagan’s life but also analyzes the security deficiencies that made the assassination attempt possible. Wilber reminds us of how close we were to losing Reagan little more than two months into his presidency. His detailed and readable accounts of the surgeries performed on Reagan and Press Secretary James Brady are of particular historical value."—Lou Cannon, author of President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime

"Rawhide Down is full of spectacular, original reporting."—Bob Woodward

"The 96 months of Ronald Reagan’s presidency changed the nation and the world. Del Quentin Wilber’s gripping account of the ‘near assassination’ of the 40th president shows how close the country—and the world—came to missing more than 93 of those months."—George F. Will

"Rawhide Down is a stunning work. 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


More About the Author

Soon after Del Quentin Wilber got his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in 1997, he stumbled on his first big story: a massive fish kill in the waterways of Maryland's Eastern Shore. Living out of a suitcase and writing in drab motel rooms for days on end, Wilber tromped along muddy shorelines, reeked of dead fish, watched fellow reporters become sick with inexplicable illnesses--and immediately knew that there was no other job he'd rather be doing.

A recovering former collegiate baseball player, Wilber joined the staff of The Baltimore Sun after landing one of the Sun's prestigious two-year internships. Before long, he was given a full-time position covering crime in a suburban bureau, and in 2001 the paper's editors tapped him to cover crime in the city. His reporting on wrongdoing by Baltimore's police chief led to the chief's conviction on corruption charges and a stint in federal prison. In 2002, Wilber led the paper's coverage of the D.C. sniper shootings, which later was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Wilber's work as a police reporter received national recognition when he won the Al Nakkula Award for Police Reporting in 2004

Wilber joined the staff of the Washington Post in 2004 as the D.C. police reporter. He soon gained the trust of the police department's top officers as well as numerous cops on the street, which ultimately allowed him to gain unusual access to the inner workings of the department. In numerous stories for the Post, Wilber explored the life of police officers and detectives as they investigated homicides and tried to solve cold cases, car thefts and burglaries.

In 2006, he became the paper's national aviation writer. Long fascinated by airplanes and aviation, Wilber covered plane crashes, flight delays, and aviation safety and security issues. To better understand the industry, he also became a licensed private pilot. After being promoted by the paper to cover the federal courts, he chronicled the trial of former Senator Ted Stevens and wrote about the complicated issues surrounding the detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He got the idea to write Rawhide Down shortly after attending a hearing for John W. Hinckley Jr. and being handed the would-be assassin's gun by an FBI agent who kept it in his drawer.

As a boy in Massachusetts, Wilber became obsessed with the Boston Red Sox, in part because his grandfather, Del Wilber, played for the Red Sox as a back-up catcher in the 1950s. He later moved with his family to Northern Virginia and attended Georgetown Preparatory School. He now lives in the Washington area with his wife, NPR correspondent Laura Sullivan, and their two sons, Quentin and Ryan.

Wilber is often asked why he uses his middle name in his byline, and the simple answer is that he's proud of it. The name goes back four generations to his great-grandfather's decision to give his son that middle name in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt's youngest child, who died in World War I while serving as a fighter pilot. Wilber, a history buff who often watches documentaries while simultaneously reading a nonfiction book, couldn't resist carrying on the tradition with his own son.


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Customer Reviews

I recommend this book to anyone interested in history or just likes a good read.
James
Del Quentin Wilber does an excellent job of narrating the events the day Ronald Reagan was nearly assassinated.
Derek
I can generally judge just how much I like/love a book if it's one I can't wait to get through.
Theresa Dickison

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Terry L on January 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Nelly on February 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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 By Eric Hobart VINE VOICE on February 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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 By Jon Hunt on March 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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.
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