Arminius's Reviews > The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century

The President and the Assassin by Scott  Miller
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Feb 19, 2013

it was amazing
bookshelves: history
Read from September 12 to 30, 2011

The President and the Assassin is a great book about an underappreciated President and a relatively unknown assassin. The author goes back and forth between President McKinley and his assassin Leon Czolgosz.

I will start with President McKinley’s great accomplishments. First, exports nearly doubled going from $833 million in 1896 (when McKinley took office) to 1.5 billion when he was unfortunately murdered.
Workers wages increased, cotton, wheat and corn prices climbed and inventions for convenience and pleasure increased as well. Kodak Camera and Hoover vacuum machines for example began. Electricity became common and cars had just started providing transportation.
Medical advances also occurred at a rapid rate. For example, Dr. Walter Reed had proved that mosquitoes caused yellow fever during McKinley’s reign as President.
New York had become the world’s Center of finance. The Park Row building in New York was the highest building in the world.
Hawaii became a state, Guam and Puerto Rico had become U.S. protectorates as a result of the decisive victory for America in the Spanish American war and brilliant power diplomacy employed by the President.

Leon Czolgoszi, on the other hand, was a very smart, reserved and introverted hard working individual. However, when the Depression of 1893 left him unemployed his vision of capitalism collapsed as well. He was prone to read inflammatory anarchist literature. He also became a follower of the brilliant anarchist linguistic Emma Goldman. Anarchists had a large following in the late 19th Century. They were, somewhat, the predecessor enemy to the government as the communists would be in the 1940’s. However, communists generally tried to change people’s minds while Anarchists looked to kill political and business leaders as a goal to self government. Many laws were passed to curb anarchism. Also anarchist communities were set up in places like New York but they always failed.

Czolgosz took it upon himself to rid the world of the American president and bought a .32 caliber revolver to accomplish this. When Czolgosz found out that McKinley was attending the Pan American Expeditions in Buffalo, NY he showed up with his weapon. When the President reached out to shake his hand Czolgosz fired 2 shots. Czolgosz was immediately tackled and beaten. McKinley while bleeding profusely ordered them to stop. The President died a few days later. Czolgosz was later executed.
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message 1: by Darlene (new)

Darlene Fantastic review, Arminius! I really want to read this!

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