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

90%

8 Critic Reviews

This is a wildly complex and significant period in American history, and Miller does a solid job of attending to the many boiling pots on the stove.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

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.

Praise for The President and the Assassin
 
“[A] panoramic tour de force . . . Miller has a good eye, trained by years of journalism, for telling details and enriching anecdotes.”—The Washington Independent Review of Books
 
“Even without the intrinsic draw of the 1901 presidential assassination that shapes its pages, Scott Miller’s The President and the Assassin [is] absorbing reading. . . . What makes the book compelling is [that] so many circumstances and events of the earlier time have parallels in our own.”—The Oregonian
 
“A marvelous work of history, wonderfully written.”—Fareed Zakaria, author of The Post-American World
 
“A real triumph.”—BookPage
 
“Fast-moving and richly detailed.”—The Buffalo News
 
“[A] compelling read.”—The Boston Globe
 
One of Newsweek’s 10 Must-Read Summer Books
 

About Scott Miller

See more books from this Author
Scott D. Miller, Ph.D., grew up in sunny Southern California, surfing the waves at Newport Beach. He is currently the codirector of the Institute for the Study of Therapeutic Change, where he works as a consultant helping individuals, organizations and businesses manage change and increase productivity. He is the author of many papers and coauthor of seven books, including The Heroic Client, The Heart and Soul of Change, Escape from Babel and The Miracle Method: A Radically New Approach to Problem Drinking.
 
Published June 14, 2011 by Random House. 432 pages
Genres: History, Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The President and the Assassin
All: 8 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Apr 15 2011

This is a wildly complex and significant period in American history, and Miller does a solid job of attending to the many boiling pots on the stove.

Read Full Review of The President and the Assassi... | See more reviews from Kirkus

LA Times

Below average
Reviewed by Wendy Smith on Jun 19 2011

There are difficulties with this back-and-forth technique. Casual readers may have trouble keeping track of the dual story lines, and Czolgosz's reemergence after a 150-page absence from the text is jarring.

Read Full Review of The President and the Assassi... | See more reviews from LA Times

Washington Independent Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by James McGrath Morris

...uses the twentieth century’s first presidential assassination as a literary device to paint an engaging, entertaining, and revealing portrait of America at a crucial turning point in its history. In short, this book delivers on its subtitle.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Excellent
Reviewed by Roger Miller on Mar 30 2012

It examines two swelling historical forces of the late 19th century to explain what led to the assassination of the president at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., Sept. 5, 1901.

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Oregon Live

Excellent
Reviewed by Elinor Langer on Jun 17 2011

Even without the intrinsic draw of the 1901 presidential assassination that shapes its pages...would be absorbing reading.

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NJ.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Jonathan Lazarus on Jun 12 2011

...captures the parallel universes of McKinley and Czolgosz — and their sudden, violent convergence — with assurance.

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The Weekly Standard

Excellent
Reviewed by RYAN COLE on Sep 12 2011

,,,is compelling, and his profiles of murderer and victim are fascinating.

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The Seattle Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Roger Miller on Jun 09 2011

...a welcome and useful addition. It examines two swelling historical forces of the late 19th century to explain what led to the assassination of the president at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y., on Sept. 5, 1901.

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