Review: 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
The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century by Scott Miller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A contentious election; a nation bitterly divided; a serious wealth gap; fearmongering by political parties; accusations of imperialism accompanying a war in a foreign country that Americans aren’t sure about and dimly understand. These conditions may sound pretty contemporary, but they’re actually over a hundred years old.

It seems incredible that, so soon after the first presidential assassination, that President William McKinley should have been so publicly available–and vulnerable. Yet crowds regularly visited him in the White House and literally gathered on his front lawn in Ohio as he gave campaign speeches. After a speech in Buffalo, New York, McKinley was shot by Leon Czolgosz, a young man who had tried, and failed, to impress famous anarchists with his desire for violent action. The story of how each man’s individual journey led him to Buffalo that day is a fascinating one, and the activities of each of them resonate to this day.

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