Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault That Changed a Presidency by Bill O’Reilly
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I was disappointed in this book. Perhaps because I’ve read several biographies on Ronald Reagan, or perhaps because I’d read O’Reilly’s “Killing Jesus” and thought it was an interesting and well laid out book. This one was neither. It bothered me that it jumped around in the timeline. It’s certainly not a smooth read.
The book overall had the tone/feel of a tell-all tabloid piece. It centered on the negative aspects of Reagan’s careers and leadership. O’Reilly seemed to fixate on Nancy Reagan’s faith in a fortune teller and Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s. Both things are true and did happen, but were they the focal points of this man’s presidency? I don’t think so. Nor did either have anything to do with the assassination attempt, which the book does cover, but is not the focus of the book as one would assume from the title.
Some of the sections on Hinckley were new to me, but again, the timeline jumped around making it somewhat confusing to follow. Overall, I think O’Reilly was more sympathetic with Hinckley than he was with the Reagans.
If you’re a die-hard political person, you may enjoy this book. It does cover the Berlin Wall moment well, but that’s the only truly positive thing I remember reading in it. O’Reilly even fixates, it seems, on the negative aspects of Reagan’s friendship and working relationship with Margaret Thatcher. Why he’d do that when they were in accord on most things, I don’t really know. At the very end he brings out their deep friendship as shown by Thatcher’s taped eulogy at Reagan’s funeral. It felt almost a tacked on afterthought.