Killing Reagan by Bill O'Reilly
  • Title: Killing Reagan
  • Subtitle: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency
  • Author(s): Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
  • Year: 2015-09-22
  • ISBN-10: 1627792422
  • ISBN-13: 9781627792424


Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency” by Bill O’Reilly is a gripping and well-researched account of the attempted assassination of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, and its profound impact on his presidency. O’Reilly, known for his detailed storytelling and crisp narration, delivers an engaging and thoroughly documented analysis of the events leading up to and following the shooting.

The book begins by delving into Reagan’s early life and rise to power, highlighting his Hollywood career and eventual transition into politics. O’Reilly offers readers an intimate look at Reagan’s personality, providing valuable insights into his strengths, weaknesses, and leadership style. This sets the stage for examining the pivotal moment in Reagan’s presidency when John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate him outside the Washington Hilton Hotel on March 30, 1981.

O’Reilly draws on extensive research, including interviews with key individuals involved, to provide a comprehensive account of the shooting and the subsequent impact on Reagan’s health and decision-making abilities. The author explores the behind-the-scenes struggles within the administration as Vice President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Nancy Reagan stepped up to manage the presidency during Reagan’s recovery.

Killing Reagan” not only details the physical and emotional toll the assassination attempt took on Reagan but also delves into the broader implications on his presidency. O’Reilly examines Reagan’s determination to push through policy agendas, such as tax reforms and international relations, despite growing concerns about his well-being. The book also explores the long-lasting effects of the shooting on Reagan’s legacy and his intense drive to prove himself despite doubts about his ability to lead.

Overall, “Killing Reagan” is a meticulously researched and compelling examination of the attempted assassination that forever shaped Ronald Reagan’s presidency. O’Reilly’s engaging narrative style and thorough analysis make this book a must-read for both history enthusiasts and those interested in understanding the personal and political challenges faced by one of America’s most iconic leaders.


Book Review

Examining the Turbulent Legacy of "Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency" by Bill O'Reilly

Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency” by Bill O’Reilly is a thought-provoking exploration of the pivotal moment in American history when President Ronald Reagan’s life and presidency were forever altered. O’Reilly, known for his distinctive storytelling style, dives into the harrowing events surrounding John Hinckley Jr.’s assassination attempt and paints a vivid picture of the significant impact it had on both Reagan and his administration.

O’Reilly begins the book by providing readers with a comprehensive and detailed overview of Reagan’s rise to power. He masterfully navigates through crucial milestones in Reagan’s life, such as his Hollywood career and his transition into politics, helping us understand the man behind the presidency. Even readers less familiar with Reagan will come away with a deep appreciation for his unique personality, unwavering determination, and influential leadership style.

O’Reilly brings depth and nuance to his analysis of Reagan’s presidency, offering valuable insights into the challenges Reagan faced both before and after the assassination attempt. Through rich storytelling, O’Reilly guides readers through the tumultuous aftermath of the shooting, shedding light on the power struggles within the administration and examining how Vice President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Nancy Reagan played significant roles in upholding the presidency during Reagan’s recovery.

What sets “Killing Reagan” apart is its meticulous research and presentation of key details surrounding the attempted assassination. O’Reilly leaves no stone unturned as he pieces together the sequence of events leading up to the shooting, drawing upon interviews with Reagan’s aides, Secret Service agents, and other individuals directly involved. With riveting clarity, he recreates the chaotic scene outside the Washington Hilton Hotel on that fateful day of March 30, 1981.

The author skillfully weaves together timelines, interviews, and historical context to present readers with a complete understanding of the shooting and its immediate aftermath. Through his examination, O’Reilly highlights the resilience and determination displayed by Reagan, who insisted on returning to work only days after suffering a near-fatal injury. Furthermore, he provides a candid analysis of Reagan’s health, raising questions about his fitness to govern during his second term and the compromises made in order to preserve the image of a strong and capable leader.

One of the book’s strengths is its exploration of the long-lasting effects of the assassination attempt on Reagan’s presidency. O’Reilly investigates how this pivotal event influenced Reagan’s policy decisions and relationships with his advisors. For instance, he delves into Reagan’s push for tax reform and his dedication to repairing relations with the Soviet Union, using specific examples to demonstrate how Reagan’s mindset shifted as a result of the attack.

O’Reilly also examines how Reagan’s determination to prove his strength and competence after the shooting led to questionable decisions. He explores the Iran-Contra affair during Reagan’s second term, shedding light on the administration’s covert actions and the controversy it sparked. By connecting these events to Reagan’s desire to assert his authority and maintain his standing as a strong leader, O’Reilly provides a critical analysis of the complex legacy Reagan left behind.

In “Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency,” Bill O’Reilly delivers a detailed and compelling account of a defining moment in American history. Through thorough research and masterful storytelling, O’Reilly captures not only the physical and emotional toll the assassination attempt had on Reagan but also the broader implications for his presidency and his lasting impact on American politics. This book is a must-read for those interested in unraveling the complexities of Reagan’s leadership and the resilience that drove him through one of the most challenging periods of his presidency.

Word Count: 638

President Reagan was surrounded by Secret Service agents. But unbeknownst to them, there was a constant and growing threat lurking in the shadows. On March 30, 1981, that threat materialized in the form of John Hinckley Jr. Armed with a handgun, Hinckley fired six shots, with one bullet striking President Reagan, piercing his lung and narrowly missing his heart. In that split second, the course of history changed. Suddenly, a nation was left grappling with the reality that even the most protected leader could fall victim to a violent assault. This event would forever shape Reagan's presidency and serve as a stark reminder of the dangers inherent in the role of being the leader of the free world.

Key Ideas

In “Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency,” Bill O’Reilly explores several key ideas that shape the narrative and shed light on the impact of the attempted assassination on Ronald Reagan’s presidency. These ideas include:

  1. The Resilience of Ronald Reagan O’Reilly highlights Reagan’s strength of character and determination in the face of adversity. The book underscores Reagan’s persistence to recover and return to work shortly after the assassination attempt, which demonstrated his unwavering commitment to his role as president. O’Reilly portrays Reagan as a resilient leader who refused to let the attack define his presidency.

  2. The Undercurrents within Reagan's Administration O’Reilly reveals the power struggles and behind-the-scenes machinations within Reagan’s administration during his period of recovery. He explores the crucial roles played by Vice President George H.W. Bush and First Lady Nancy Reagan in managing the presidency and maintaining the image of a strong leader. Through these narratives, O’Reilly highlights the interconnectedness and tensions among key figures in Reagan’s administration.

  3. The Impact on Reagan's Presidential Legacy O’Reilly delves into how the assassination attempt shaped Reagan’s decision-making and policies during the remainder of his presidency. He examines the Iran-Contra affair in particular, showcasing the compromises and questionable decisions made by the administration. O’Reilly raises questions about Reagan’s health and its potential influence on his ability to govern effectively, ultimately contributing to debates regarding his legacy.

  4. Reagan's Vision for America Another key idea explored in the book is the vision Reagan had for America and his determination to implement his agenda. O’Reilly illustrates Reagan’s unwavering commitment to tax reform and his emphasis on reducing government intervention, as well as his aspiration to improve relations with the Soviet Union. The book highlights how Reagan’s vision and goals persisted, even in the face of adversity.

  5. The Role of the Secret Service O’Reilly provides an in-depth analysis of the Secret Service’s role in protecting the president and the immediate aftermath of the assassination attempt. He explores the agency’s protocols, decision-making processes, and the implications of Hinckley’s actions for their practices and procedures.

Ultimately, “Killing Reagan” offers readers a comprehensive exploration of the impact of the assassination attempt on both Ronald Reagan as an individual and his presidency. Through these key ideas, O’Reilly provides valuable insights into Reagan’s character, the inner workings of his administration, and the legacy he left behind.


Target Audience

The book “Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency” by Bill O’Reilly is targeted at a wide audience interested in American history, politics, and biographies. It is recommended reading for the following audiences:

  • History and Political Science Enthusiasts The book provides a comprehensive and well-researched account of one of the most significant events in American presidential history. O’Reilly’s meticulous examination of the attempted assassination and its impact on Reagan’s presidency offers a fresh perspective on this critical period. History buffs and political science enthusiasts will find this book engaging and informative.

  • Ronald Reagan Admirers and Critics “Killing Reagan” provides insights into Reagan’s personality, leadership style, and political ideology. Both Reagan’s supporters and critics will appreciate O’Reilly’s balanced portrayal of the man and his presidency. O’Reilly’s exploration of Reagan’s determination and resilience after the shooting offers a compelling narrative that sheds light on the complexity of Reagan as a leader.

  • Fans of Bill O'Reilly's Writing O’Reilly’s storytelling skills and engaging narrative style shine through in “Killing Reagan.” His ability to weave together historical facts, interviews, and personal anecdotes creates a captivating reading experience. Those who appreciate O’Reilly’s previous works, such as “Killing Lincoln” and “Killing Kennedy,” will likely enjoy this book as well.

  • Students and Researchers of U.S. History and Politics This book is highly recommended for students and researchers interested in delving deeper into the Reagan era and its impact on American politics. O’Reilly’s meticulous research, combined with the inclusion of interviews and primary sources, makes it a valuable resource for academic study.

  • Those Seeking a Gripping True Story “Killing Reagan” reads like a suspenseful thriller, with O’Reilly expertly building tension and drawing readers into the events surrounding the assassination attempt. It offers a riveting, human-focused narrative that goes beyond the historical and political aspects, making it an engaging read for those simply looking for a compelling true story.

In conclusion, “Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency” appeals to a diverse range of audiences. From history enthusiasts to political science students, admirers of Reagan, and fans of O’Reilly’s writing style, this book offers a captivating examination of a significant moment in American history and is highly recommended for those interested in gaining a deeper understanding of Reagan’s presidency and the lasting impact of the assassination attempt.

Fair Use Disclaimer

This book review may contain excerpts and references from the reviewed work, used under the doctrine of fair use. The purpose is to provide a critical analysis, commentary, and evaluation of the book. The use of these excerpts is done for non-commercial and educational purposes, aimed at fostering discussion and understanding. The author acknowledges the original copyright holder's rights and asserts that the use of such material is transformative, adding value through the inclusion of informed opinions and insights. This review intends to comply with the principles of fair use under copyright law and does not seek to infringe upon the author's or publisher's rights.

© 2023