Popdose at Kirkus Reviews: Del Quentin Wilber, “Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan”

Written by Books, Kirkus Reviews

We look at a book the recounts the day when one man’s obsession with celebrity nearly brought down the President of the United States.

Kirkus Reviews, founded in 1933, is a venerable institution in the media world. For more than 75 years, Kirkus has served as the industry bible for bookstore buyers, librarians, and ordinary readers alike. Now Popdose is proud to announce our partnership with this titan of American publishing.

We’ve joined the Kirkus Book Bloggers Network. Every week, a rotating crew of your favorite Popdose writers will grace the virtual pages of Kirkus Reviews Online, taking on the best — and sometimes the worst — in pop-culture and celebrity books. From coffee-table studies to quickie unauthorized bios, if it’s about show biz, it’s fair game.

This week we look at an historical account of the day, thirty years ago, when one man’s obsession with celebrity almost brought down a president…

Among our nation’s many curious fixations, celebrity is but one of them. Millions of Americans spend hours each week reading about stars, watching them dance on television, and following their every move. For the overwhelming majority of these admirers, theirs is a benign passion. Once in a while, however, passion turns into obsession and things get scary.

Del Quentin Wilber’s Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan, out now from Henry Holt and Company, is a procedural account of the March 30, 1981 near-assassination of President Ronald Reagan. Wilber spends the majority of his narrative delving into the events, both large and small, that led up to the fateful day when America almost lost its second president in 20 years. He recounts President Reagan’s schedule almost to the minute, and does the same for Secret Service Agent Jerry Parr — the man in charge of the President’s protection — and the doctors and surgeons who treated President Reagan’s nearly fatal gunshot wound.

But the most fascinating and, let’s face it, sadly relevant parts of Rawhide Down are the glimpses into the twisted mind of John Hinckley, Reagan’s would-be assassin. The dark heart of Wilber’s story concerns Hinckley’s steady descent into mental illness and his eventual fixation on a young actress. It was an obsession that nearly brought down the most powerful man in the free world.

Read the rest of this article at Kirkus Reviews!