"The President and the Assassin" tells the parallel stories of President William McKinley who was leading the United States to threshold of the American Century and Leon Czolgosz, the anarchist drifter who would gun him down in Buffalo. More than the stories of two people, it is the stories of movements that were pulling America in opposite directions.
The focus on McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt brings up much that is found in other volumes with an emphasis on the governing class' fear and concern about the anarchist movement. The reader comes to understand that, in his day, McKinley was a revered leader, not the generally forgotten predecessor of TR as he is now remembered.
The perspective of this book that I found to be most interesting is the explanation of the sources and significance of the anarchism that really threatened America as it strode onto the World Stage. This book reveals anarchism's roots in Europe and how the "propaganda of the deed" was used on both sides of the Atlantic. It enables the reader to understand that the assassination of McKinley was not an isolated incident but a blow by a Trans-Atlantic Angel of Death that snuffed out the lives of European leaders along with McKinley. There was a movement that saw the world in a struggle between the rulers and the ruled. Others who carried this virus to America play prominent roles in the story.
Besides recalling a tragic murder, "The President and the Assassin" tells the story of a struggle for the heart of America, a time when the stable, Shining City on a Hill was in the future, a time when a tumble into revolution and disorder was viewed as a real possibility, not a paranoid dream. While not a conspiracy per-se, the placement of this crime in the world-wide ferment makes author Scott Miller tale, in my view, a much more interesting one than the story of the Kennedy assassination and, perhaps, even the Lincoln conspiracy.