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The Anarchist

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  187 ratings  ·  36 reviews
On a stifling, hot afternoon in September 1901, a young anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, who has been stalking President William McKinley, waits in line to meet the president, his right hand wrapped in a handkerchief and held across his chest as though it were in a sling.  But the handkerchief conceals a .32-caliber revolver. When the president greets him, Czolgosz fires two shot ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published December 8th 2009 by Broadway Books (first published December 1st 2009)
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Average rating 3.39  · 
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Ron Charles
Nov 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Alleged White House party crashers Michaele and Tareq Salahi never posed any threat to the president, but they reached him so easily at a time of heightened security that the parallels to a tragic encounter 100 years ago are truly frightening. In 1901, as today, America was suffering economic turmoil while battling shadowy zealots trying to destabilize Western governments with acts of terror and assassination. These early-20th-century anarchists disrupted markets and kept political leaders in a ...more
Javier Romero
Jul 25, 2018 rated it liked it
This main story was driving enough for me to finish the book but there wasn't much enthusiasm as I did so. At the time of my reading I didn't have another book to read so it filled my time as that. The assassin character has his drives and I kept reading out of a want to see how the author tied it all up.
It wrapped up fine and after reading I didn't really care one way or the other.
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I liked it.
May 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2010
historical fiction about leon czolgocz, who assassinated president william mckinley in buffalo in september 1901. the book follows czolgocz starting a few days before the assassination, up until his final incarceration in the prison where he was to be executed. there are some side stories, as well, including the relationship between the mckinleys & their executive doctor, who hides mrs. mckinley's frail health from the public. the most dominant story was about moses hyde, a canawler on the erie ...more
Timothy Bazzett
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is my seventh Smolens boook and his newest. I've reviewed all of them, except, I think, his collection of stories called My One and Only Bomb Shelter. I read that back before I began reviewing, I think, but it's equally good. I'm running out of superlatives for Smolens' work. This one is every bit as good as the others, and bears the Smolens stamp of superlative (there's that word again), plot, pacing, suspense and - especially - characters. The extra element here is an obvious attention to ...more
Lou Yonke
Apr 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
This is another in an ever-growing list of historical fiction novels that I really enjoyed reading. Reading about President McKinley's 1901 assassination made me feel like a time-traveler. John Smolens taught me about a very specific time in history that my teachers had quickly glossed over during high school history class. What people thought about the future in times past always makes us rethink our own ideas about the future.

One character says "River commerce, canals - even your horse will be
Jul 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book, primarily because I'm from Canton, Ohio and I realized what little I knew of William McKinley. The monument is quite beautiful and worth a visit if ever in the area, but it's more for workouts than anything these days. I think I will revisit it and read more on this man. The book gave me enough information to understand how he was killed, but because it was based on a fictional character, he didn't delve into McKinley very much. I thought the storyline was ok. There were part ...more
Sep 09, 2016 rated it liked it
The Anarchist is Leon Czolgosz (Chol-gosh), who assassinates President William McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in September 1901.

This novel captures the mood of anarchy of the time extremely well. World leaders were being killed by anarchists who thought they were advancing the cause of world peace and the unity of the workers by doing away with leaders.

Knowing this -- and under fairly tight security -- it is amazing that Czolgosz was able to stand in line for hours and shake
I should probably state at the onset that John's an old friend,but I do think he's out-done himself here, moving into Doctorow territory. While I do miss his ability to describe landscape and nature (sacrificed in a story that has urban roots), he does apply his ability to build a scene towards the feel of 1901 Buffalo, New York. This story of McKinley's asassination builds a little slowly at first as characters are introduced, but then it takes off like a shot (okay, bad metaphor..). The turn o ...more
Jul 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
It's hard to imagine presidents once met with the public on a face-to-face basis with limited security. He mingled with them, and even shook hands (without hand sanitizer, too. gross). On a warm August afternoon in 1901, President McKinley was shot twice by a man firmly entrenched in his belief that the world should exist sans government. Needless to say, future presidents limited their public engagements from that point on.

My summary is brief simply because not much happened in this book. Sure,
Darryl Mexic
Jan 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Mystery writer and college English professor, John Smolens, weaves a fictional plot around the factual account of the assassination of President William McKinley by anarchist Leon Czolgosz, a young loner driven by the passionate speeches of Emma Goldman (aka “Red” Emma) and a belief that it is his duty to kill the president in support of the common working man. The fictional part involves Moses Hyde, an orphaned “canawler” working on the Erie Canal and hero of the novel, a Russian immigrant pros ...more
Crown Publishing
Dec 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I really liked this book. I'm not the biggest fan of historical fiction, but this book felt different than the other I've read. It was dark and had noir / detective elements to it - plus it was informative! When you think about the U.S. Presidents who have been assassinated you rarely read about William McKinley, but the story behind his assassination is fascinating.

My favorite scenes in the book feature Theodore Roosevelt, who was McKinley's VP. The author does a great job of making his larger
May 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book,exciting, and encouraging in a number of ways. GK Chesterton says in his book the Everlasting Man that historical fiction is perhaps the most accurate historical writing of all because it includes emotions, motivations, and passion, for the acts commited throughout histor. The emotions and thought of the asassin in this novel may not be those of the actual killer of McKinley, they are fascinating to contemplate.

Another interesting, and valuable aspect of this book is to learn that
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book is based on the assassination of President McKinley by Leon Czolgosz. It's been a while since I've read much about the history of Czolgosz and the assasination, but from what I remember there isn't much of a historical record about Czolgosz and he had relatively few connections to the anarchist movement at the time.

Author John Smolens takes advantage of this, weaving a story that integrates prostitution, sexual perversion, and all sorts of other stuff into the anarchist struggle. There
Jun 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Fictional historical narrative of Leon Czolgosz assassinating President whats-his-face written by a sympathetic liberal English professor. Not bad. Readable. Interesting. The protagonist is a anarchist-sympathizer who is actually a Pinkerton spy. Author does the whole I-agree-with-their-ideas-but-disagree-with-their-tactics thing, so the villains are the coppers and the bomb-throwers and the heroes are Czolgosz and the President. Hmmm. Worth a read for those who care about anarchist history, but ...more
Aug 18, 2010 added it
The Anarchist is the best kind of history lesson. It takes the assassination of William McKinley in 1901 by anarchist Leon Czolgosz, builds on the foundation of real people--Czolgosz, McKinley, McKinley's wife Ida, vp Teddy Roosevelt, and Emma Goldman--mixes in a cast of original characters--a canawler, a prostitute, a Buffalo police captain, and a Pinkerton detective--to create an inventive thriller. This is a great book to give to a brother, husband, or father--but only after you've read it yo ...more
Sep 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: smolens
excellent portrayal of the story about leon czolgosz (i learned how to pronounce the name--that's in the story, as well, but alas i don't have a page number), september 1901, and when president mckinley meets leon, leon fires two shots.

interesting read, in light of the tragedy of a more recent september, 9/11.

this is a real good story, captivating and real.
May 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
This historical fiction was both entertaining and educational. It brought to life the early 20th century problem of anarchists which was an ever present threat, much like terrorist are today. The book flowed really well up until the assasination but seemed to slow to the finish. I would defineately reccomend this book to anyone who is interested in history but needs it in an entertaining fashion.
Aug 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
Really struggling with this book. I haven't found any characters that I care about and am bored out of my mind. I hate to put a book down once I start reading it, but I may need to do just that. It does put me right to sleep every night, however.
Stick a fork in me, I'm done. My time is too valuable.
Feb 16, 2010 rated it did not like it
Pretty disappointing. I never really cared about anyone in this book. It didn't suggest any new or interesting insights into the historical even it was supposed to be dealing with. Read Caleb Carr's Alienist books instead. Much more interesting. ...more
Jun 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-10
Multiple storylines around the assassination of William McKinley. I like the detail to clothing and the characters' environment. I think I wanted more detail about life on the canal. At times, the stories felt forced together - but I did enjoy the book. It was a good summer read. ...more
Rob Mentzer
Pretty silly. I am sort of interested in the politics of the time (early 1900s) and thought it might be fun to read a novel about it. It was a little, small bit of fun, was all. Sort of a clumsy potboiler overall.
Tom Buske
Jul 26, 2011 rated it liked it
A decent fictional account of the assassination of President McKinley by anarchist Leon Czolgosz in 1901. It is a good companion piece to the Dennis Lehane book set in Boston in the 1910s "The Given Day". ...more
Patrick DiJusto
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
This is historical fiction about Leon Czolgosz and the assassination of President William McKinley. I know more than a bit about this event, and historically the book is wonderfully accurate. The story weaves in and out of the known facts, and really evokes the time and place.
Karen Rudisill
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Interesting book about the assissination of President McKinley that seems to have received little historical attention. Interesting insight into the time of anarchists (would we call them terrorists today?) at the turn of the centruy.
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Interesting historical fiction. I knew nothing about anarchism in the United States. Book focuses on the anarchist who assassinated President McKinley. It has wetted my appetite to read more about the anarchist movement in the early 20th century.
Nov 26, 2009 rated it liked it
Wow the descriptions of Cleveland and the surrounding areas is like so real.
Allen Elggren
May 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The assination of Pres. McKinley. Early 1900 Buffalo and intrigue on surrounding the Assination and efforts by other anarchists to disrupt the country.
Jan 22, 2011 rated it liked it
This was an interesting way to learn about the McKinley assassination. The author did a good job at weaving together historical events and the story.
Deborah Harless
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
I heard this author speak at a book festival, and it sounded so interesting I bought the book on the way out. It was great, a quick read and really interesting
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According to Northern Michigan University's website, John Smolens "...has published five novels Cold, The Invisible World, Fire Point, Angel’s Head, and Winter by Degrees, and one collection of short stories (My One and Only Bomb Shelter.) Cold was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, and the Detroit Free Press selected Fire Point as the best book by a Michigan author in 2 ...more

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