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The President Has Been Shot: Confusion, Disability, and the 25th Ammendment in the Aftermath of the Attempted Assassination of Ronald Reagan Hardcover – February, 1992

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When President Reagan was shot by John Hinckley Jr., in March 1981, the executive branch failed to invoke the 25th Amendment, which would have made Vice-President George Bush the acting president until Reagan could resume his duties. This compelling report documents the severity of the chief executive's injury, which the White House concealed from the public. Abrams, a Stanford University medical school professor, dramatically depicts the dangerous, sometimes farcical confusion in the aftermath of the shooting. James Baker, Edwin Meese and Michael Deaver ran the White House; "they were the president," quips Abrams. While Soviet troops seemed poised to invade Poland, Secretary of State Alexander Haig and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger jockeyed for power and squabbled over the alert status of U.S. forces worldwide. In a disturbing book that sounds an important warning, Abrams proposes guidelines for swift, effective action when a president is incapacitated. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

An effective means of transferring presidential authority because of assassination or illness has eluded the U.S. government for 200 years. Abrams uses the confrontations between Chief of Staff Alexander Haig and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger following the 1981 attempt on President Reagan's life to present a strong case for stricter adherence to the 25th amendment, which determines presidential succession. Authority should have been transferred to Vice President George Bush because Reagan, who initially had been in danger of dying, was totally incapacitated for several months. Fear of alarming the public and possibly encouraging a Soviet military response to the Solidarity uprising in Poland were the reasons given by James Baker, Edwin Meese, and Michael Deaver for not invoking the 25th amendment. Despite an uneven style that at times becomes prosaic, Abrams convincingly advocates the immediate use of this amendment and the careful selection of vice presidents. Recommended for current affairs collections.
- Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp . Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 364 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc; 1st edition (February 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393030423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393030426
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.2 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,530,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Marc Korman on January 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The day Reagan was shot has been written about in endless Reagan biographies, dramatized on TV in The Day Reagan Was Shot, and studied by historians, political scientists, and constitutional scholars. This book studies the shooting from the perspective of presidential disability.

The first chapters of the book essentially offer a "tick tock," a minute by minute account, of the day in March 1981 when Reagan was hit by a deflected bullet. Detail is given on the would be assassin John Hinckley, Jr, Reagan's medical treatment at George Washington University Hospital, and the chaos in the White House Situation Room where many advisors and Cabinet Secretaries gathered.

The subsequent chapters discuss the history of presidential inability and the current law. At the least, four presidents prior to Reagan experienced periods of disability during their terms. These were Presidents Garfield, Cleveland (who the book does not discuss), Wilson, and Eisenhower. Arguably, other presidents such as FDR did as well. Until 1967 there was no constitutional provision on presidential inability and no procedure for a president to recuse themselves, or have to recuse, based on health or mental status. The 25th Amendment changed that. It has been used twice since then, once in the the mid-1980s when Reagan had surgery for cancer (although Reagan claimed he was not exercising the amendment, he was) and during the second Bush Administration when President George W. Bush was under anesthesia. The latter is outside the scope of the book.

The final chapters include recommendations, largely for official guidance and meetings, on how to address presidential inability.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a student of history, I can't praise this book highly enough. Abrams delves into the murky waters of the 25th Amendment in the aftermath of the March 30, 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.

The President lay near death in the hospital. The Vice President was in the air, flying back to Washington. The West Wing staff never informed the next in the order of succession. (Speaker of the House Tip O'Neill) All of these events taken in concert would make for gripping fiction -- save for the fact that this is a history book.

Most definitely worth the read.
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