ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Killing Reagan: Book Review

Updated on October 5, 2018
Leland Johnson profile image

Leland is a patriot, a student of history, and a lover of freedom and truth. He enjoys sharing the fruits of his learning with others.

Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency

A Violent Assault Indeed

John Hinckley's assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981 was certainly violent, and undoubtedly changed the Reagan presidency. However, it is author Bill O'reilly's assault on President Reagan that concerns me.

The book begins well enough, painting a vivid scene of Reagan's last moments in his Bel Aire Los Angeles home. His wife, Nancy, is there holding his hand. O'reilly describes the "death rattle", that shallow, raspy breathing that occurs in the last moments of the dying. He describes how Reagan opens his eyes and looks directly at Nancy with a wordless, profound expression of love. The former president had lost the ability to speak years earlier, but those that were there with him in the end described him as cognizant and at peace. That, I believe. The description rendered by the author (s) was a great introduction: respectful, dignified, true. Had the book maintained that tone throughout I would not have come away feeling like I'd wasted my time.

Footage and Commentary of Assassination Attempt

Where the Book Went Wrong: 3 Points. Point #1

#1. O'reilly uses a back and forth method not uncommon in literary styles. It's a technique I appreciate as the author takes us from the present back to the past, present-past, and so on. This technique buttresses historical events by providing a hindsight view of what brought the characters to a particular point. The problem here is that O'reilly spends an inordinate amount of time in the past focusing on Reagan's indiscretions. O'reilly informs the reader that Reagan was "a playboy," and that he "liked to look at women," and those are the mild examples. The author further dares to delve into actual pillow talk between Reagan and one of his liaisons that I found illicit, even profane. This is not the Ronald Reagan I grew up admiring. Not only is this brand of journalism tawdry and cheap, it isn't fair. We don't really know what people said behind closed doors during such trysts. In one particular example O'reilly cites a starlet who wrote about her physical interactions with Reagan providing the text to a discussion she allegedly had with him during the act, a discussion Reagan is not here to defend or deny.

On another occasion the reader is provided a description of then Governor Reagan walking beside a pool at a hotel. A young girl sits by the water looking sad. Reagan strikes up conversation with her. The rest is left to the imagination, but O'reilly informs us that the girl goes on to proclaim that she and Reagan would carry on a years long affair. There is no proof of this. People didn't believe it then, Reagan denied it, and more than anything the presence of this paragraph in the book provides absolutely nothing for the enhancement of our understanding of the claimed purpose of this book! It has nothing to do with "Killing Reagan." It is purely gratuitous, sensationalized fodder that adds nothing to the story, in fact, it detracts, and there is an abundance of this throughout the narrative.

Point #2: Disrespectful

Descriptions of world leaders are inaccurate and disrespectful. O'reilly describes Margaret "The Iron Lady" Thatcher as "homely and buck-toothed." In truth, Thatcher was neither, but even if she was I ask you- is such a description necessary? Is such a description worthy of a world leader that helped create a fiscally sound UK and stood up, with President Reagan, against the increasing military threat of the Soviet Union? On the other hand O'reilly is extremely gracious in his description of Mikhail Gorbachev. There are far less flattering physical descriptions available for that man than for Thatcher, but O'reilly does not provide them.

Margaret Thatcher: Prime Minister of the UK 1975-1990

Thoughtful, tough, inspiring- much better descriptors of Mrs. Thatcher.
Thoughtful, tough, inspiring- much better descriptors of Mrs. Thatcher.

"The Gipper" and "The Iron Lady" Shared a Deep, Mutual Respect for One Another

Reagan and Thatcher formed a political relationship and personal friendship that made the world a better, safer place.  They both deserve better treatment than afforded by this book.
Reagan and Thatcher formed a political relationship and personal friendship that made the world a better, safer place. They both deserve better treatment than afforded by this book.

Point #3: Nothing New Here Folks

It isn't that there's "nothing" new in this book. There is some information I hadn't heard. The details of Hinckley's childhood as well as the content of some of his letters were of some interest, but not enough to justify investing yourself in the reading. I wanted to stop after about the 4th chapter, but I continued because I wanted to warn potential readers.

Former President Reagan Discusses the Assassination Attempt on his Life with Larry King. Gentle, Kind, Compassionate. That was Reagan.

"I added him (John Hinckley) to my prayers for healing. I thought if I'm going to ask for healing for myself, perhaps he needs healing too."

— Ronald Reagan

Since There are no Negative Integers Available I am Forced to Give This Book a 1, 1 Star More Than it Deserves

1 star for Killing Reagan: by Bill O'reilly

Summary

I have read two of O'reilly's other efforts in his "killing" series. Killing Jesus and Killing Lincoln were both reputable, solid works. I found Killing Lincoln to be especially interesting as it provided new and interesting facts in a lucid writing format. Killing Jesus wasn't bad, but there were actually some errors in it. At one point O'reilly attributes dialogue spoken by Pilate to Jesus and vice-versa. I was willing to let it go chalking it up to O'reilly being more of a historian than a theologian. However, for this work I give no such quarter. O'reilly even states in the epilogue that he and co-author Martin Dugard were careful to make sure all quotes were backed by at least two sources so "we wouldn't put anyone in a bad light." But Bill- you did put people in a bad light. This is especially sad given the fact that O'reilly himself has been accused of sexual misconduct during his tenure at Fox News. Are such accusations permissible because they are stated by more than one source? Hardly.

Furthermore, O'reilly includes events in Reagan's waning years that would embarrass him; details of public incidents where he appeared to be confused or disoriented. O'reilly also seems to be attempting to discredit some of President Reagan's achievements, most notably an assertion that it wasn't really Reagan's assumption of power that freed American hostages in Iran after 444 days of captivity, but rather O'reilly attributes the release being a result of some murky financial deal that freed up Iranian money. These details are not only insulting and unsubstantiated by O'reilly, they are, like so much of this book, absolutely irrelevant to the subject.

Finally, this book achieves two things:

  1. If you are a Reagan admirer it assaults your sensibilities and promises to offend.
  2. If you are not a Reagan admirer provides plenty of reasons to continue disliking him.
  3. Many of the tawdry descriptions portrayed in the book are hearsay and unsubstantiated.

Just as it is with the book, I find neither premise worthy of consideration.

I will furnish you with a suggested list of alternate, preferable reading pertaining to the life of the great Ronald Reagan.

Book List

  1. The Faith of Ronald Reagan: by Mary Beth Brown
  2. Speaking My Mind: by Ronald Reagan- selected speeches
  3. A Shining City: The Legacy of Ronald Reagan- Simon and Schuster
  4. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher- A Political Marriage: by Nicholas Wapshott
  5. A Different Drummer- My Thirty Years With Ronald Reagan: by Michael Deaver
  6. Tear Down This Wall- A City, A President, And The Speech That Ended The Cold War
  7. The Wit And Wisdom Of Ronald Reagan: by James C. Humes (audio version)

The Wit and Wisdom of Ronald Reagan

I Recommend the Audio Version

I have personally listened to the audio version of "The Wit and Wisdom of Ronald Reagan" many times and recommend it because it is composed of actual audio footage of the president telling jokes. I belly laughed all the way through and I bet you will too! No one could tell a joke like President Reagan. You will find yourself swept away in pleasant, dreamy nostalgia as Reagan's soft and playful voice shares dozens of jokes, aphorisms, true stories and anecdotes.

Ronald Wilson Reagan: Feb 06, 1911 - Jun 05, 2004

© 2018 Leland Johnson

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      20 months ago from Midland MI

      Awesome! I look forward to your commentary!

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      Brad 

      20 months ago

      Leland

      You are welcome, and I am going to see what else of yours that I missed.

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      20 months ago from Midland MI

      that's weird, I'm not sure either, but I'm glad you got to this one and I appreciate your comments and insights, Brad. Keep up the good work!

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      Brad 

      20 months ago

      Leland

      I just checked and I am already following you, so I don't know why I don't get notifications of your published articles?

    • bradmasterOCcal profile image

      Brad 

      20 months ago

      Leland

      I am sorry that I don't get to your articles. I don't get the notifications about many articles even the one that I follow. After my comment here, I will make sure that I follow you, if I am not already.

      As for the article, it was very impressive and objective even though it was about a very delicate subject. Which was looking and focusing on the worse elements of a very long Reagan political career, and life.

      I never cared for O'Reilly and this book just adds to that feeling.

      Even if everything he said was true about Reagan, I don't care, option one in your question at the end of the article.

      We certainly could use someone like Reagan in California today.

      He was the one bright light in a state government controlled forever by the left.

      His accomplishments speak more than his failings, and that is a difficult bar for the presidents that followed him. And only president Trump has met that bar.

      The way that you wrote this article would be the way I would think Reagan would have put it. While I more identify with the Trump way of putting things, and with most the same reactions by the left.

      Have a great day:)

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      21 months ago from Midland MI

      The key word is "virtually." I'm sure dem leadership despises him, but there were a lot of Reagan democrats whereas I don't think the same could ever be said of Clinton. I've never heard of any Clinton Republicans or Obama Republicans, even in this day and age when it's getting harder and harder to tell the two parties apart from each other.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      21 months ago from now on

      Leland, I’m not so sure you can say Ronald Reagan is cherished by virtually all political parties in the US.

      The Democrats opposed almost all of his policies and still do even now using terms like “trickle down economics” which was their original false characterization of Reagan’s policy. Today the phrase “trickle-down economics” is the rallying call of the Left every time the subject of tax rate cuts or tax reform is being discussed. Their leaders, like Nancy Pelosi, go so far as to say that tax rate reductions, which result in government taking less of someone’s money, is “theft.”

      I don’t think that equates to Democrat Party cherishing Ronald Reagan. Actually if you pay attention to what Democrat Party leaders say about Reagan they either think he was a joke or like Kerry and Obama pretend to praise him only in hopes of not alienating so called “Reagan Democrats” during their election runs. So often you will hear them say such and such a Democrat is like Reagan and it is always an obvious lie, as if they are trying to portray Reagan as that person, not the other way around - it’s called rewriting history.

      I know this is not evidence of a party denigrating Reagan but if you search Hubpages you will find some of the most loathsome articles portraying Reagan as a total failure written by democrats.

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      21 months ago from Midland MI

      Hi Mary- I'm with you. I don't like tabloid journalism that profits from slandering others. The legacy of Ronald Reagan is cherished by virtually all political parties in the US and I find it reprehensible to tarnish one of the few things most Americans agree on- That Reagan was a great man and a superb president.

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      21 months ago from Midland MI

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I thought O'reilly at least handled the subjects of Lincoln and Jesus with respect, an element absent from "Killing Reagan." I never have a problem with people or pundits disagreeing, but respect has to be present. The Golden Rule is becoming outdated in the minds of some, but I think it's the foundational behavior required for societal interaction.

    • tsadjatko profile image

      21 months ago from now on

      Well done Leland.

      I’ve heard O’reilly comment on the Bible and scripture and it is clear he has never actually studied it, like most Catholics I know. He doesn’tbelieve It is the word of God and internet even though his religion does, yet he claims to be a Catholic. In light of the recent revelations that for 70 years just in one state (the tip of the iceberg) here a network of pedophiles was commanded and orchestrated by the church leadership I can’t imagine why anyone would want to be associated with that religion.

      What really scares me is how so called conservatives ( he claims not to be but his positions almost always are so he just claimed not to be so as not to alienate parts of his audience) like him and Romney, both being intelligent people, can’t apply logic and reason to their religion. I mean Romneybelieved he will eventually become a god and be given a planet to rule. And he ran for president?

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      21 months ago from Midland MI

      Paula- I've heard Oreilly speak here and there over the years, sometimes I'd agree with him, other times not, so I didn't really have a strong opinion of him one way or the other. NOW I do and I'm glad it came as a result of his own, self incriminating, words. Also, I think you're right about something else. I was surprised at how casually, how easily he besmirched President Reagan. I heard him run to his own defense on a radio program regarding his legal troubles, yet he wouldn't give the subject of his invective the same opportunity. Finally, I appreciate your compliment very much. I'm always impressed at how you can squeeze so much eloquence into such a small space. Thanks again for reading and for your insights. :)

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      21 months ago from Midland MI

      Flourish- Thank you for reading and commenting. I agree- I wouldn't buy it either. I'm glad I checked it out from the library. I think the library prevents me from buying as many books as it encourages me to obtain. :)

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 

      21 months ago from UpstateWestern,New York

      Ah, Yes, Bill O'Reilly, the owner of "Sinister."......the bearer of passive-aggression. I do not share the graciousness of your doubt in his guilt of the charges against him. No, not at all. These are flaws that he must own, Leland.

      Oddly ironic, I must say, given his insistence to smear President Reagan. But this is Bill's style, his narcissistic level of cynicism for men greater than himself.

      Your review is honest, refreshing and qualifies as a gift to your readers. I appreciate this. Thank you, Leland. Your writing amazes me. Peace, Paula

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      21 months ago from USA

      Bill O’Reilly might as well be dead to me. He is a nobody and I certainly would never buy his book. I’m glad you called out his deplorable book as such.

    • Leland Johnson profile imageAUTHOR

      Leland Johnson 

      21 months ago from Midland MI

      Thanks AB- My main gripe about the book is that whether RR did or didn't do the things alleged in the book it was irrelevant for O'reilly to include them. It made me angry because it's as if he was trying to tarnish Reagan's legacy for NO REASON. I know I have things in my past I wouldn't want brought up and I'm sure O'reilly does too, heck don't most if not all people? I was a teenager when Reagan was president, and while I didn't know anything about politics I remember that he always made me feel good, safe, proud of being American, you know? I hate that a so-called conservative like O'reilly would publish such things about a man who, in my opinion, gave his life for his country. Thanks again AB!

    • abwilliams profile image

      A B Williams 

      21 months ago from Central Florida

      I haven't read any of O'Reilly's books, I've never been a fan of his to start with and always doubted that his writing style would change my view.

      I am surprised by the speculation and hearsay of his "indiscretions", you'd think that over decades of admiring Ronald Reagan, I would have heard some of this about him....count me a skeptic!

      Well done Leland.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)