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Like writer Sarah Vowell and perhaps Bill O’Reilly, I am fascinated by presidential assassinations. Perhaps it is the mere thought that the leader of the Free World is no safer than anyone else. The library shelves are full of tomes on the deaths of Lincoln and Kennedy, but can you name one book on the death of William McKinley, our 25th president? I suggest Scott Miller’s THE PRESIDENT AND THE ASSASSIN to those interested in this near forgotten historic event.
McKinley’s fall has been overshadowed by the rise of his vice president, Theodore Roosevelt, still a favorite among politicians and the public alike. However, McKinley was beloved during his presidency. His death ended a time when one could drop in and visit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and gave rise to the Secret Service and heavy security at the White House.
McKinley was felled in Buffalo in 1901 by an anarchist’s bullet, after touring Niagara Falls. The 1890’s had been full of labor strikes, political agitation and the threat of bombings. It took one man, Leon Czolgosz, to silence this folksy, jovial president, and to unleash Roosevelt – that ‘cowboy’-and the modern era upon America politics. If you want to learn more, pick up this highly readable book.
(Photo of Will Thomas by Gentry Bowles)