Historian Feinman sets out to show just how dangerous the job of U.S. president can be, detailing 19 different assassination attempts on sitting presidents as well as aspirants to the office. Readers are likely familiar with the political climates and events surrounding the notorious murders of Presidents Lincoln, McKinley (whose assassination resulted in the decision to provide the President with constant protection by the Secret Service), and Kennedy as well as the attempted assassinations of Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan. They may be more surprised to learn that Hamas planted roadside bombs along a route that former President Jimmy Carter was traveling on in the Middle East in June 2009, and that a similar plan had been concocted by Saddam Hussein to assassinate George H.W. Bush in June 1993. It’s a sobering read, made even more poignant by Feinman’s rich assessment of each president’s contributions and accomplishments, as well as speculation on what could have been had victims survived or vice versa. Regardless of the reader’s political affiliation or leanings, they’re sure to come away with a deeper respect for U.S. presidents and those sworn to protect them.
)The Presidents of the United States and their families have constituted something close to American royalty. We avidly follow their personal, as well political, successes and failures, their brushes with greatness and tragedy. As national leaders and symbols, presidents walk on contested ground, arousing the best and worst of passions. Ronald L. Feinman examines the darkest of those passions. His look at successful and failed assassination attempts reminds us of the dangers of the office and provides us with a walk through presidential history.
(Randy Roberts, Distinguished Professor of History, Purdue University)Feinman’s excellent work reminds us that assassination has been part of our political culture throughout American history. With a deft pen, he draws us into the world of our nation’s highest office and chronicles the evolution of the sordid business of plotting and killing the Chief Executive, as well as the methods to counter such acts.
(Stephen D. Engle, Professor of History, Florida Atlantic University; Director of the Alan B. Larkin Symposium on the American Presidency)
About the Author
Ronald L. Feinman, PhD, specializes in twentieth-century American history, with emphasis on political and diplomatic history. He has taught courses at Florida Atlantic University on America 1900–1945; FDR and the New Deal Era; U.S. 1945 to the present; and America in the 1960s. Feinman is also the author of Twilight of Progressivism: The Western Republican Senators and the New Deal. He currently writes for the blog www.theprogressiveprofessor.com.