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

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

by Scott Miller
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Overview

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

A SWEEPING TALE OF TURN-OF-THE-CENTURY AMERICA AND THE IRRESISTIBLE FORCES THAT BROUGHT TWO MEN TOGETHER ONE FATEFUL DAY
 
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, readers 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400067527
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/14/2011
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 6.18(w) x 9.64(h) x 1.32(d)

About the Author

As a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal and Reuters news agency, Scott Miller spent nearly two decades in Asia and Europe, reporting from more than twenty-five countries. His articles—covering fields as varied as the Japanese economic collapse, the birth of a single European currency, French culinary traditions, and competitive speed knitting—have also appeared in The Washington Post and the Far Eastern Economic Review, among others. He has been a contributor to CNBC and Britain’s Sky News. Miller holds a master’s degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge and now lives in Seattle with his wife and two daughters.

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The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
jcrubicon More than 1 year ago
This must be my week for late 1800's intrigue. I just reviewed Candice Millard's strong "The Destiny of the Republic" about the events surrounding the murder of James Garfield and now I turn to Scott Miller's "The President and the Assassin" which travels not too dissimilar ground in the assassin of Wm. McKinley. Millard tells the better story, but Miller had the better material. History, to have impact, needs theater and relevance in its telling, and our great historians (Shelby Foote, David McCullough, Joseph Ellis, Edmund Morris, Jay Winik, Stephen Ambrose, Stephen Catton, Carl Sandberg, Barbara Tuchman, Hampton Sides and Candice Millard) have all been captivating storytellers first and foremost. Miller is simply a former journalist. Miller tries to tell this story as a parallel biography: McKinley and, his assassin, Leon Czolgosz. I think the story, unfortunately, was more in the clash between capital expansion and anarchy. Neither McKinley nor Czolgosz were prime movers of their time, they were flotsam on the waves of countervailing currents of America of the time. Miller seems to recognize this with his extended, yet inert, focus on the anarchist voice, Emma Goldman. The problem with the anarchist story is that it doesn't fit nicely into the time frame Miller has prescribed ... the growing anarchist movement goes from well before Haymarket, featured here, through, at least, the bombing of the LA Times Building in 1910. Like Garfield, McKinley was not served by his security or medical teams, but Miller doesn't really pursue that angle. Todd Lincoln's presence at both assassination attempts goes un-mentioned. And much like wasting an Oscar winner in doing voice-over, Miller hardly mentions Teddy Roosevelt, McKinley's VP and successor. I think he was worried about the comparison.
19thCenturion More than 1 year ago
In the interest of full disclosure, I bought this book because I am a huge fan of Theodore Roosevelt and wanted to know more about the events that brought him to the Presidency. While TR does not come out of this book smelling very good (portrayed as being very impulsive, overstepping his authority as asst. sec'y of the navy, and a wildly reckless warmonger), I enjoyed the book as a general review of the time period. From the title, one might anticipate this book is largely about the McKinley assassination. It is not. Instead, it nicely covers the political, socioeconomic, and cultural aspects of America circa 1872-1901. The anarchy movement, the Panic of 1893 and subsequent deep recession, the election of 1896, the Spanish-American War, and the growing pains of newborn American imperialism are well-covered. Unnerving similarites to our own past decade are readily apparent in the Wall Street debacle of 2007-8, the "Occupy Wall Street" movement, and U.S. military ventures that become bogged down in insurgencies. McKinley was a decent, honorable man thrust into enormous events that he managed with a steady and considered hand while devotedly tending to a frail, perhaps unbalanced wife. After reading this book, you will think of him fondly. I identified only one factual inaccuracy in the book, that being the statistic that the U.S. Navy was smaller than that of landlocked Austria. Austria in 1898 was, of course, part of the Habsburg AustroHungarian Empire and had a major naval base in Trieste, now in modern-day Italy, on the Adriatic Sea.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I bought this book because I wanted to know what events led up to Theodore Roosevelt becoming president "filling in the blanks". I learned that America was about to become a global superpower. McKinley was hesitant on China, and war with Spain right at the turn of the century. I didn't know that this was also a time of "anarchism". The assassin was a zealot, angry about approaching the technology boom and the loss of his job. The President and the Assassin draw out the tension to the final conclusion. A tremendous read!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was extremely well written and researched. I could hardly put it down. I highly recommend it!
mflans More than 1 year ago
"The President and the Assassin," is a terrific historical account of the back round to the McKinley period and of the anarchist movement that was spawned by the Gilded Age. Having read "Destiny of the Republic", shortly before Scott Miller's book on McKinley the similarities are quite remarkable. I found both books to be extremely well written and if interested in Presidential History well worth reading.
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Interesting account which covers the era niccely. For those who like history but don't want an academic level of detail.
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I am 14 and i always read books with facts
lunar33 More than 1 year ago
The factual data in this book could have been written on a pamplette instead of the neverending pages of "blah blah blah" in this book. I like a good factual story, this had maybe 20 pages of facts and sewn together assumptions and fluff for the remainder of the book. I liken this book to a really bad crab cake, 10% crab the rest was filler.
ALSNY More than 1 year ago
excellent excellent