Start reading The President and the Assassin on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.
Start reading this book in under 60 seconds
Read anywhere, on any device

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player


The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century [Kindle Edition]

Scott Miller
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $18.00
Kindle Price: $11.84
You Save: $6.16 (34%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $11.84  
Hardcover --  
Paperback $13.15  
MP3 CD, Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged $26.99  
Unknown Binding --  
Audible Audio Edition, Unabridged $26.95 or Free with Audible 30-day free trial
Kindle Delivers
Kindle Delivers
Subscribe to the Kindle Delivers monthly e-mail to find out about each month's Kindle book deals, new releases, editors' picks and more. Learn more (U.S. customers only)

Book Description

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

Editorial Reviews Review

A Q&A with Author Scott Miller
What inspired you to write this book?
I began looking for a book idea several years ago with two requirements in mind. First, I wanted to find a good story--something with fascinating characters, a bit of tension, and a compelling narrative. Second, I was looking for a story of some significance. That led me instinctively to the turn of the century. Everything about the United States--its economy, its politics, the way people played and worked -- were all rapidly changing. It was a turning point in the nation’s history. McKinley and his assassin Leon Czolgosz, I quickly discovered, offered a fascinating story in their own right, but also spoke to broader issues.

McKinley tends to be overshadowed by his successor, Theodore Roosevelt. Is that fair? There is no question that McKinley gets less space in the history books. Roosevelt ranks as perhaps the most charismatic president in U.S. history and accomplished great things. But McKinley’s five years in office were, if anything, more action packed. He led the nation into war with Spain, he annexed the Philippines, and he sent troops to China to help put down the Boxer Rebellion. Many of his decisions would have long-lasting consequences. U.S. troops would remain in the Philippines for decades. Puerto Rico and Guam would be brought under--the Open Door-- that would guide presidents right up to Pearl Harbor. McKinley, however, was the type of man who preferred to work behind the scenes and was not one for bombastic speech making. This modesty has certainly hurt his profile, undeservedly so.

Do you see parallels between McKinley’s presidency and what the United States faces now?
Yes. Many of the issues about America’s role in the world can be traced back to his years in office. McKinley and his team were at various times torn over whether the United States, as a former colony itself, should avoid interfering in the affairs of other governments, or whether to use its power to correct what it considered to be problems in other countries. Overlaying that conflict was the pursuit of American economic interests, which demanded a strong U.S. presence abroad. Ultimately, I think, McKinley decided in many cases that there existed a happy union of interests--what was good for the United States was also probably good for others.

And what of the anarchist philosophy that Czolgosz said he subscribed to?
There are a number of similarities between the anarchist movement in the 1880s and 1890s and what’s happening in some parts of the world today. Radical anarchists of that time saw in terror--what they called the “propaganda of the deed”--an opportunity to draw attention to their cause. Some also felt they were justified in using violence because, in their view, government and society was using violence against them--aggressive police tactics and an unjust legal system. Finally, and this really struck me, was the power of imitation. It seemed like every time the police, in the United States or in Europe, captured and punished an anarchist, it only inspired others to take up the fight themselves, even to the point of hoping to die in the same manner that their heroes had.

What surprised you about your research?
What struck me the most was the richness of those who became secondary characters in the book. There is the adventure-loving Frederick Funston, the army officer who--passing himself off as a prisoner of war--led a secret raid on the camp of the leader of the Filipino resistance. There is Admiral Dewey, a desk-bound naval officer who worried over a forgettable career until he was given the opportunity to attack the Spanish fleet at Manila. There is Emma Goldman, “Red Emma,” who loved anarchism, and the men who shared her views. And there is even McKinley’s wife, a demanding and sickly woman, who would have tested most men, but found in McKinley an ever faithful and loving companion. Getting to know these people--as well as McKinley and Czolgosz--was one of the great joys of the book and I’ll miss spending time with them.

From Publishers Weekly

Miller, a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and Reuters, faithfully captures the turbulent time at the turn of the 20th century when America faced discord from within and without, and war and an assassin altered America's history. President McKinley, then the most popular U.S. president since Lincoln, rose from humble beginnings in Ohio to become a Civil War hero and hardworking congressman, and as president determined to govern with a nonconfrontational style and maintain a peaceful foreign policy. In telling the stories of McKinley and his killer in alternating chapters, Miller uses sharp parallels between the president and his anarchist killer, Leon Czolgosz, a factory worker who lost his job in the crash of 1893 and was something of a loner who found an emotional outlet following the anarchist movement and activist Emma Goldman. Goldman's words inspired the depressed man to violence. With a smoldering labor crisis, foreign woes with Spain and Cuba, and a harsh media barrage, McKinley finally thought things were going his way until the fateful day he was shot. Miller's polished and vivid narrative of these complex, dissimilar men makes this piece of Americana appear fresh and unexpected. (June)

Product Details

  • File Size: 5146 KB
  • Print Length: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (June 14, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004J4WN2Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #206,962 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I done my duty ! June 16, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
These were the words uttered by President McKinley's assassin immediately after he had shot the American president. Did he regret it? No. Before being executed, the assassin, Leon Czolgosz, cried out:" I killed the President for the good of the laboring people, the good people. I am not sorry for my crime but I am sorry I can't see my father".
The presidency of McKinley was the one when the modern American nation, economy and foreign policy were forged. These were the times when the USA conducted a war against the Spanish empire and acquired more territories, such as Hawaii, and Cuba was firmly under American control, while Taft was turning the Philippines into a peaceful colony during his watch as governor there. The American society was undergoing a deep and significant change from an agrarian one to an industrial one. This process meant, on the one hand, that some got very rich, and, on the other hand, millions of workers were conducting a battle of existence, performing the same mind-numbing tasks for 10 or even 16 hours a day. In fact, one observer described the situation of the masses as "one of unmitigated serfdom". New inventions and manufacturing techniques made it possible to produce more and more with fewer workers, and those who were lucky went on frequent strikes. Labor unions were still weak and the interests of the workers were mainly discussed and raised by the anarchists, whose number was spreading constantly. In other words, those desperate workers turned to violence, and the anarchists provided the fuel for it.
One of these frustrated people, who was a Polish immigrant and factory-worker, Leon Czolgosz, decided that president McKinley was focusing on making the rich richer.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
The most remarkable thing about Miller's eminently readable discussion of the assassination of William McKinley by anarchist Leon Czolgosz in September 1901 is how little attention is paid to the deed itself. Miller is about more here than a "tick-tock" retelling of a sad event in American history; he places the assassination squarely in context by devoting the majority of the book to a survey of McKinley's highly consequential Presidency, the growth of the anarchist movement in the U.S., and the aimless Czolgosz' gradual absorption by the anarchist subculture. The Haymarket bombings and trial, the Cuban insurrection against Spain, the Spanish-American War, the career of Emma Goldman, and the establishment of an American empire are among the topics covered here, with chapters generally alternating between the McKinley material and the anarchist/Czolgosz matter. Once you get used to the book's structure, the narrative flows reasonably well. In intertwining the McKinley and anarchist threads, Miller in no way argues that Czolgosz -- who, while a shiftless loner, appeared to be eminently sane -- killed McKinley because of opposition to imperialism. However, the juxtaposition of the two stories leads the reader to wonder whether the social inequalities and unrest of the turn of the 20th century, coupled with what the American Left at the time thought was an unseemly grab for worldwide power by government and business working in harmony, provided the necessary spark for Czolgosz' solitary explosion.

I'm pleased to see that Miller resists the temptation to resort to common stereotypes and characterize McKinley as a cipher or a simple puppet of big business.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Two Books Not Well Meshed February 13, 2012
This book is jammed packed with information. "Sweeping" is one way to put it. It is actually two books. The first is a bio-history of McKinley and his term as president. The second is an account of the rise of anarchy (with labor unrest) in the last decades of the 19th century. The only way Mr. Miller puts the two together is by noting that McKinley's assassin attended some anarchist rallies. Although pro-labor, he wasn't even that active.

My biggest problem with the book is that Mr. Miller tracks McKinley's career and the Spanish-American War while at the same time tracking America's labor problems and the rise of anarchistic views in the country. He generally alternates chapters. Sounds like a good plan. However, when he was tracking the McKinley saga, he was always four to ten years ahead of the anarchy story. Not only did this make it difficult to follow, the reader is unable to conflate the two. Worse, it means he never traced McKinley's life and career in the context of the labor and anarchy movements. Amazingly, the reader never gets McKinley's views on these except to learn that he was pro-business.

The information in both accounts is excellent and well-presented. It was presenting them in one book without combining the two that brings this book down. It would have made two very good books instead of one disjointed tome.
Was this review helpful to you?
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting From A Lot Of Perspectives June 29, 2011
What attracted me to this book was that it seemed like one of those all-encompassing stories in the vein of Eric Larson which presents a slice of history as an all-encompassing story.
Author Scott Miller covers a lot of ground in this book in respect to not only looking at one very fatal act (the assasination of President William McKinley by anarchist Leon Cyglosz(sp?), but also digging into the backgrounds of both men. Miller's research is very thorough and he has managed to present a well-balanced account of both mens lives and insert them in respect to the emerging new century and the changes that were occurring in this country as well as the world. While this book manages to look at McKinley and his policies which was informative, it was probably the quasi-anonymous assasin that had an odd sort of appeal to this reader in the respect that he was really sort of an non-descript sort of man who got involved in the socialist movement. Since I knew less about anarchy and people like Emma Goldman and Albert Parson and events such as the Haymarket Riot, this added a lot to my general understanding of the period and put McKinley's assasination into a different perspective for me.
After reading this book, I felt as though I had picked up a substantial amount of knowledge regarding this incident and the era covered and will use it as a springboard for further investigation.
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars I found the sections that went into great detail about Cuba boring
Somewhat dry history account. I found the sections that went into great detail about Cuba boring. I would much rather have had more detail on McKinley's personal life than was... Read more
Published 13 days ago by Deborah Richardson
4.0 out of 5 stars Imbalance in income=causes and effects
A book about McKinley's assassination but only in passing, the majority of this history is what led up to the shooting and various motives. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Kristi Richardson
4.0 out of 5 stars A well constructed story of the parallel lives on collision ...
A well constructed story of the parallel lives on collision course leading to the McKinley assassination. I was intriqued enough to seek out more information on the McKinley era.
Published 26 days ago by Lester J. Appel
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping account of the McKinley assassin and the level of ...
gripping account of the McKinley assassin and the level of medical care available at the that time. Today McKinley would have lived.
Published 1 month ago by oregonian
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book
I enjoyed this book! Miller does a good job of weaving two parallel stories together & showing the impact of these two lives when they collided. Read more
Published 1 month ago by jeff farmer
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this as a cautionary tale of our time
Compelling portrait of McKinley, the time and the conditions that promoted the anarchist movement. Strangely foreboding cautionary tale of oligarchy and oppression.
Published 2 months ago by Mary Anne Byer
1.0 out of 5 stars Anarchists are terrorists not idealists
Overall, I'd have to rate this book as a disappointment. Not because of the wealth of information contained and how it is presented but because it appears to take the view that,... Read more
Published 2 months ago by TerryE
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing account
good job of tying in political climate of the day with the assassination itself as well as a unique.narrative structure
Published 3 months ago by Jason Moss
4.0 out of 5 stars Different way to tell story.
I enjoyed the "side by side" stories about the asassin and President McKinley. I didn't know much about the President, so I learned a lot.
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read!
If you love a good story, but enjoy learning about history along the way, this is the book for you! I immediately looked to see what other books I could purchase by Scott Miller. Read more
Published 4 months ago by stacey almgren
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

More About the Author

Scott Miller is the author of The President and the Assassin: McKinley, Terror and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century.

As a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and Reuters, Mr. Miller spent nearly two decades in Asia and Europe, reporting from more than twenty-five countries. He covered fields as varied as the Japanese economic collapse, the birth of a single European currency, and competitive speed knitting. His articles have also appeared in the Washington Post and the Far Eastern Economic Review, among others, and he has been a contributor to CNBC and Britain's Sky News. The President and the Assassin stems in part from several years of researching and writing about global trade.

Mr. Miller holds degrees in economics and communications and earned a Master of Philosophy in international relations from the University of Cambridge. He now lives in Seattle with his wife and two daughters. He enjoys mountain biking, back-country skiing, fly fishing and college football.

To find out more, visit his website:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category