Matthew Hunter'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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's review
Oct 27, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: history

Absolutely fantastic! Miller tells the parallel stories of President McKinley and his anarchist assassin Leon Czolgosz. Teddy Roosevelt, Emma Goldman, Andrew Carnegie, Johann Most, William Jennings Bryan and many other important figures make appearances in this drama. Throughout my reading of the book, I was struck by how little I knew about turn of the century America and the McKinley presidency. Why is that? The Spanish-American War, occupations of the Phillipines, Guam, Cuba, the dawn of US imperial designs, annexation of Hawaii, assassinations of a number of world leaders, wars between workers and capitalists, and on. Good lord the late 19th, early 20th century was an important time for the US and the world! But I learned squat about it in school. It's as if McKinley's presidency was an afterthought, an era of no importance whatsoever. Miller's book fills in significant gaps in my knowledge about world history.

Miller is a terrific storyteller. The book reads almost like a fiction drama, starting with the assassination and then taking the remaining 340 pages to explain the events and thought currents that led to McKinley's murder. Fascinating stuff! The President and the Assassin is a new addition to my essentials shelf. Give it a read.
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