ningerbil (ningerbil) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
ningerbil
ningerbil
50bookchallenge

Book 46- The President and the Assassin, by Scott Miller

46. The President and the Assassin, by Scott Miller. Really enjoyed this one. I didn't appreciate what a tumultuous time the late 1800s and early 1900s were. The story focuses on two different stories: President William McKinley's involvement in the Spanish-American War and the United States' increased international presence (not to mention prestige), and the story of Leon Czolgosz, the radical anarchist who would assassinate McKinley. It's an interesting juxtaposition. I, at least, got the impression that while McKinley and the United States government were casting their eye on overseas market opportunities, they were missing the problems and strife at home. One interesting point that comes up is that the impression from the typical school history books is that this was a fairly easy battle for the United States- and it was. But I get the impression here that the U.S won not because its forces were superior or its leadership stellar- but that Spain grossly underestimated the threat the newer nation posed. Indeed, no one thought the U.S. stood a chance.
There were a lot of interesting tidbits. One, McKinley was the first president to ride in an automobile. I also didn't realize how much he conducted his presidential work from his Canton home. Another interesting tidbit -and I wonder if this is still done? - is that the hulls of navy ships are painted gray in times of war, and white in times of peace. I wonder how that tradition started.
Besides McKinley and Czolgosz, Miller's book also gives a lot of page time to Theodore Roosevelt, whose brash antics won him both acclaim and criticism; Emma Goldman, a prominent figure in the anarchist movement - some of her ideas would be radical today; and many others from the war abroad and the conflict at home.
The novel is easy to read and follow, and is written with a lively voice. One section that stood out was the description on how the United States took Guam; I laughed out loud at that passage. I finished the novel quickly, and was always reluctant to put it down.
Tags: history, non-fiction
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