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Murdering McKinley The Making of Theodore Roosevelt's America

by
Edition:
Reprint
ISBN13:

9780809016389

ISBN10:
0809016389
Format:
Paperback
Pub. Date:
9/18/2004
Publisher(s):
Hill and Wang
List Price: $16.00

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Summary

When President William McKinley was murdered at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, on September 6, 1901, Americans were bereaved and frightened. Rumor ran rampant: A wild-eyed foreign anarchist with an unpronounceable name had killed the commander-in-chief. Eric Rauchway's brilliantMurdering McKinleyrestages Leon Czolgosz's hastily conducted trial and then traverses America with Dr. Vernon Briggs, a Boston alienist who sets out to discover why Czolgosz rose up to kill his president. Eric Rauchwayhas written for theFinancial Timesand theLos Angeles Times. He teaches at the University of California, Davis, and is the author ofThe Refuge of Affections. He lives in Northern California with his family and dog. After President William McKinley was fatally shot at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, on September 6, 1901, Americans were bereaved and frightened. Rumor ran rampant: a wild-eyed foreign anarchist with an unpronounceable name had killed the Commander-in-Chief. Eric Rauchway's brilliantMurdering McKinleyre-creates Leon Czolgosz's hastily conducted trial and then traverses America as Dr. Vernon Briggs, a Boston alienist, sets out to discover why Czolgosz rose up to kill his President. While uncovering the answer that eluded Briggs and setting the historical record straight about Czolgosz, Rauchway also provides the finest portrait yet of Theodore Roosevelt at the moment of his sudden ascension to the White House. Czolgosz was neither a foreigner nor much of an anarchist. Born in Detroit, he was an American-made assassin of such inchoate political belief that Emma Goldman dismissed him as a police informant. Indeed, Briggs's search for answersin the records of Auburn State Prison, the New York penitentiary where Czolgosz was electrocuted; in Cleveland, where Leon's remaining family livedonly increased the mystery. Roosevelt, however, was quick to affix meanings to this crime "against free government all over the world." For Roosevelt was every inch the calculating politician, his supposed boyish impulsiveness more feint than fact. At one moment encouraging the belief that Czolgosz's was a political crime, at the next that it was a deranged one, Roosevelt used the specter of McKinley's murder to usher in the Progressive Era. So why did Czolgosz do it? Only Rauchway's careful sifting of long-ignored evidence provides an answer: heartbroken, recently radicalized, and thinking he had only months to live, Czolgosz decided to take the most powerful man in America with him. "Before Lee Harvey Oswald there was Leon Czlgosz, the anarchist who shot and killed President William McKinley in 1901.Murdering McKinleytells the story of this assassin and the push he gave to progressivism by making Teddy Roosevelt president of the United States."Bruce Ramsey,The Seattle Times "Immensely enjoyable and engagingly written, [with] richly detailed and deeply contextualized analysis . . . In [Rauchway's] hands, an event most have considered to be a mere anecdote, if they have considered it at all, emerges as a moment of broad historical significance . . . Rauchway offers an astute analysis of Teddy Roosevelt and dramatizes some of the conflicts and limitations inherent in progressivism . . . An intricate and engaging narrativepart courtroom drama and part detective novel."Leslie Butler,Reviews in American History "A well-written, thoughtful, and probing book. [The author's] account of the assassination, trial, and execution are clear and concise, as befitting the events themselves . . . The main storywhich is the assassination and the assassin . . . is what makes this book deserve a wide readership."John Milton Cooper Jr.,The Journal of American History "Before Lee Har

Author Biography

Eric Rauchway has written about history for The Financial Times and The Los Angeles Times. He teaches at the University of California, Davis and is the author of The Refuge of Affections. He lives in Northern California with his family and one dog.

Table of Contents

Preface ix
1 A Week at the Fair 3(26)
2 The Letter of the Law 29(26)
3 Descent 55(28)
4 Killer Anarchism 83(30)
5 All-American 113(38)
6 The Interpretation of Dreams 151(32)
7 An Irresistible Impulse 183(32)
Note on Controversies, Sources, and Controversial Sources 215(4)
Notes 219(22)
Acknowledgments 241(2)
Index 243


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