SPRINGFIELD – The crime that horrified a nation in 1865 – a president’s assassination – came close to happening again in 1981 when Ronald Reagan was shot by a madman. The author of the definitive account of that attack will tell the full, fascinating story April 19 at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
Reporter Del Quentin Wilber interviewed more than 125 people and got access to never-before-seen documents for his book “Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan.”
He learned that Reagan came far closer to dying than the public realized and was saved only by the heroic actions of the Secret Service, the D.C. Police, and the staff of the George Washington University Hospital who employed the latest in emergency medicine techniques.
The book reads “like a thriller,” the Washington Post wrote. The Dallas Morning News called it “riveting,” and journalist Bob Woodward praised its “spectacular” reporting.
Wilber, who now covers the U.S. Justice Department for The Wall Street Journal, will sign copies of “Rawhide Down” (which takes its title from Reagan’s Secret Service codename) at 6 p.m. Then at 6:30 he’ll speak in the museum’s Union Theater and take questions from the audience.
Wilber’s appearance is part of special programming in conjunction with “From Illinois to the White House: Lincoln, Grant, Reagan, Obama.” Visitors will be able to tour the exhibit before his presentation.
Tickets are $8 for the general public or $5 for members of the of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. For tickets, visit www.PresidentLincoln@illinois.gov and click on “Special Event Reservations.” Tickets can also be purchased at the door, starting at 5:30.
“I am a big fan of ‘Rawhide Down.’ It’s a great book about a tragic event that could have been even more tragic if not for the heroic actions of so many,” said Alan Lowe, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “I can’t wait to hear directly from the author and ask him a question or two.”
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (located at 212 N. Sixth St., Springfield) is dedicated to telling the story of America’s 16th president through old-fashioned scholarship and modern technology.
The library holds an unparalleled collection of Lincoln books, documents, photographs, artifacts and art. The museum uses traditional exhibits, eye-catching special effects and innovative story-telling techniques to educate visitors.