The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century

    • 3.3 • 3 Ratings
    • $16.99

    • $16.99

Publisher Description

In 1901, as America tallied its gains from a period of unprecedented imperial expansion, an assassin's bullet shattered the nation's confidence. The shocking murder of President William McKinley threw into stark relief the emerging new world order of what would come to be known as the American Century. The President and the Assassin is the story of the momentous years leading up to that event, and of the very different paths that brought together two of the most compelling figures of the era: President William McKinley and Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist who murdered him.

The two men seemed to live in eerily parallel Americas. McKinley was to his contemporaries an enigma, a president whose conflicted feelings about imperialism reflected the country's own. Under its popular Republican commander-in-chief, the United States was undergoing an uneasy transition from a simple agrarian society to an industrial powerhouse spreading its influence overseas by force of arms. Czolgosz was on the losing end of the economic changes taking place-a first-generation Polish immigrant and factory worker sickened by a government that seemed focused solely on making the rich richer. With a deft narrative hand, journalist Scott Miller chronicles how these two men, each pursuing what he considered the right and honorable path, collided in violence at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York.

Along the way, listeners meet a veritable who's who of turn-of-the-century America: John Hay, McKinley's visionary secretary of state, whose diplomatic efforts paved the way for a half century of Western exploitation of China; Emma Goldman, the radical anarchist whose incendiary rhetoric inspired Czolgosz to dare the unthinkable; and Theodore Roosevelt, the vainglorious vice president whose 1898 charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba is but one of many thrilling military adventures recounted here.

Rich with relevance to our own era, The President and the Assassin holds a mirror up to a fascinating period of upheaval when the titans of industry grew fat, speculators sought fortune abroad, and desperate souls turned to terrorism in a vain attempt to thwart the juggernaut of change.

Arthur Morey
hr min
June 30
Tantor Audio

Customer Reviews

GalacticaLover ,

Very good and very informative

Ignore the title. I bought this book because the McKinley Assassination marks a gap in my historical knowledge. I thought it would be something like a 1900-version of Six Seconds in Dallas. It is not.

There are about nine solid minutes on the actual assassination. So does that make it a bad book? Not at all. This is really a book about the rise of the Democrats and their socialist and anarchist siblings between 1875 and 1900. This is a far more important and less understood chunk of history. It explains the rise of Unions, Wilson, FDR and all the damage that resulted. The McKinley presidency and assassination are simply the framework for draping the investigation.

This is history very few people know. Sadly, because of the title, few will find it now. But I encourage you to pick this up and experience where the nation went wrong, leading us to the mess currently in office.

Why not five stars? The author, more than once, exhibited sympathy for the anarchists. The only reason to expose them is to destroy them, but the author, in places, was more critical of the nation as a whole. So you have to work to ignore his opinion. If you do, this is quite valuable.

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