Robert D. Mather, Ph.D.

The Conservative Social Psychology Blog
Review of "Killing Reagan"


In the book “Killing Reagan: The Violent Assault that Changed a Presidency” (2015), Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard bring President Reagan’s life into a vibrant narrative that shows Reagan as a man. He is a deeply talented, driven, and flawed man. The narrative does not paint Reagan in a positive or negative light, but paints him as he was: A man who did great things.

Reagan found himself ideologically alone among the communists prevalent in Hollywood at the time. I can relate to being ideologically alone in my profession. But Reagan wasn’t silent, and he continued to fight for what he believed was right. In his early career as President of the Screen Actors Guild, advising Vice-President Richard Nixon, and campaigning for Barry Goldwater, Reagan developed his ideas and refined his technique, but he never strayed from his anti-communist, pro-America foundation.

His love of his wife Nancy Reagan was a big part of him as a man, and though she may have seemed like the villain at times in the story, by the end she is a strong, loving, compassionate figure worthy of empathy.

A secondary figure in the story is John Hinkley, who attempted to assassinate Reagan. Combined with Reagan’s signing National Mental Health Week proclamation and his Alzheimer’s, the book places mental health as an important context. Reagan experienced many physical and mental health problems after the assassination attempt. These problems affected his administration, leading to a secret 25th amendment evaluation in March of 1987.

What was the best part of reading this book? For me it was this: While reading the book, I became aware that Hollywood is in a nearby town filming a feature about Reagan’s life. I get to play a role in the movie, and scenes that I read about in “Killing Reagan” will actually come to life for me as I witness history from the front row as a participant. But I will write about all of that in a future post. In the meantime, I recommend you read “Killing Reagan”.



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