A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book for 2011
A minute-by-minute account of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan, to coincide with the thirtieth anniversary
This special enhanced edition contains videos, photos, and other documents related to the Reagan assassination attempt.
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 D.C. police officer. 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 and never-before-seen documents, photos, and videos, Del Quentin Wilber tells the electrifying story of a moment when the nation faced a terrifying crisis that it had experienced less than twenty years before, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
With cinematic clarity, we see Secret Service agent Jerry Parr, 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.* Rawhide Down is the first true record of the day and events that literally shaped Reagan's presidency and sealed his image in the modern American political firmament.
*There have been many assassination attempts on U.S. 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.
Wilber's gripping minute-by-minute account of the day that president Reagan (codename Rawhide) was shot reveals the major players in the drama, including the president's doctors, his would-be assassin, Secret Service agents, White House staffers, Vice President George H.W. Bush, and Nancy Reagan. The first time author, a reporter for The Washington Post, writes with particular empathy for the stunned, shaken doctors and nurses who made a massive effort to overcome the challenges of locating the bullet, repairing the lung, and fighting debilitating blood loss as the 70-year-old president's life hung in the balance. Wilber explains what it's like to be in the Secret Service, the characteristics of the presidential limousine and its "foam bladder-style fuel tank that was designed to reduce the risk of an explosion," and the great urgency surrounding the attempted assassination: "they sped toward the FBI's field office, the agents knew there was only one way to find out quickly whether their suspect had acted alone. They would have to get him to crack." At the same time, advisors and staff engaged in power skirmishes and grandstanding. The author draws from a multitude of notes and sources, offering a fascinating glimpse of a pivotal moment in history. Photos.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I think this is a well written book with lots of actual documents to assure readers of the accuracy of information provided in the book.
I've always liked and admired President Reagan but learning about his poise and grace after such a horrible attack on his life, I truly understood the meaning of "Grace of God".
I really appreciated the detail the author provided. It was a well done effort. It was a quick, interesting read but the author clearly went out of his way to provide a substantial amount of insight on the events of that day.
A Wonderful Read
The book is well thought out, smoothly connected and riveting to read. The enhanced version is well worth the small additional expense due to the incredible background detail available from the additional audio, video and documentary sources. "Rawhide" brings home not only the fear for our President this moment generated, but the pride we felt in his response and in the response of his staff and the hospital staff as well.