STARRED REVIEW
October 06, 2015

A president’s brush with death

By Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard
Review by

The latest book in Bill O’Reilly’s Killing series will shed light on the assassination attempt that altered the course of Ronald Reagan’s presidency and of American history.

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The latest book in Bill O’Reilly’s Killing series will shed light on the assassination attempt that altered the course of Ronald Reagan’s presidency and of American history.

Bill O’Reilly, anchor of the Fox News #1 rated program “The O’Reilly Factor,” and writing partner Martin Dugard continue their best-selling series with Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency. The series focuses on the deaths of major historical figures, and Reagan is the third president to be featured, after Kennedy and Lincoln. Of course, Reagan was not killed, but O’Reilly argues that Reagan’s encounter with a gunman bent on assassination profoundly affected his eight years in office. In Killing Reagan, O’Reilly explores the assassination attempt, as well as the 40th president’s early life as a Hollywood actor, his time as governor of California, his journey to the White House and his struggle with Alzheimer’s. 

On March 30, 1981, just two months into his presidency, Reagan came dangerously close to becoming the fifth president to be assassinated. As he left a speaking engagement at a Washington, D.C., hotel, John Hinckley Jr. approached and shot the president and three others. Reagan was shot in the arm and chest—a mere inch from his heart—resulting in a punctured lung and heavy internal bleeding. Quick action and the president’s otherwise good health saved his life.

Following the assassination attempt, Reagan made a seemingly swift recovery and was released from the hospital on April 11. He appeared in good health and returned within a month to the White House, where business quickly returned to normal. However, O’Reilly posits, Reagan was privately struggling to cope with the pain and trauma of the attempt on his life, which colored the remaining years of his presidency. 

Killing Reagan promises to reveal new details, and O’Reilly has said of his latest release, “Like all the others, this book will be somewhat controversial because we have uncovered brand new stuff, some of it surprising.”

During a radio interview, O’Reilly explained, “I always felt that history is fascinating, but the books are boring, and if you can write exciting books you would sell a lot of copies and have movies made of them.” With approximately 14 million copies in print across all formats, all of the books in O’Reilly’s Killing series have become bestsellers, and the National Geographic Channel has adapted three of his previous Killing books for film. It appears that O’Reilly has found a killer formula for success. 

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Killing Reagan

Killing Reagan

By Bill O'Reilly & Martin Dugard
Holt
ISBN 9781627792417

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