Gone Before Glory: The Life and Tragic Death of William McKinley
Stephen G. Yanoff
Reviewed by Amy Lignor for Reader Views (09/2021)
Stephen G. Yanoff is an author well-known for his historical books, as well as his murder mysteries. But when it comes to the non-fiction historical arena, his books have garnered thirty national and international history awards. Now, with a resume like that, it’s not exactly difficult to pick up a book by Yanoff and receive the best. This tale, once again, shows his research-oriented mind that brings to life very real people from our past, exposes secrets, explains decisions made and not made, and artistically answers any questions you might have about the given subject.
When it comes to William McKinley, I have to admit that I knew very little – just the basics you’re presented in school before the teachers focus on the larger subject of Lincoln and his life and work during the Civil War. McKinley, like Lincoln, was a small-town lawyer, also assassinated. But McKinley became a Civil War officer and rose in the military from an enlisted man to a brevet major. Of course, he also went on to be elected to Congress and then became the 25th President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1897, until his assassination on September 14, 1901. His successes were numerous, while some were controversial: After leading this nation to victory in the Spanish-American War, he raised protective tariffs to promote American industry. In addition, his administration is seen by many historians to be a period in our history that focused on rapid economic growth.
This author delves into each and every aspect of McKinley’s life, from working as a lawyer in Ohio after the war and marrying his wife, Ida; to all of McKinley’s victories, such as the defeat of Bryan in the 1900 presidential election in a campaign focused on protectionism and free silver. He also is detail oriented when it comes to the Polish American anarchist that took out McKinley, replacing him with Vice President Theodore Roosevelt; the latter’s popularity eventually overshadowing McKinley.
As we all know, the beginning of the 20th century was a turbulent time in America, and this author makes sure that his book presents that turbulence and uproar perfectly. And even though there have been many books written in regard to the McKinley administration, Yanoff has worked hard to communicate the very real-life motivations of the people involved, and the way certain paths, people, and decisions connected that led to the assassination. It also rings very clear while reading that this author creates with the mind of a mystery writer; the cliff-hangers, so to speak, that he leaves at the end of the chapters increases your desire to read on.
It is clear to me why this superior author has won numerous awards for “Best U.S. History Book of the Year.” His dedication and hard work is evident, and his desire to tell every facet of a person’s story shines through.