Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Cary Federman's "The Assassination of William McKinley"

Cary Federman is associate professor in the Department of Justice Studies at Montclair State University and the author of The Body and the State: Habeas Corpus and American Jurisprudence.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, The Assassination of William McKinley: Anarchism, Insanity, and the Birth of the Social Sciences, and reported the following:
The Assassination of William McKinley: Anarchism, Insanity, and the Birth of the Social Sciences is more about the birth of the social sciences than it is about the assassination itself. By this I mean that each chapter of the book analyzes a developing social science at the turn of the twentieth century and examines how each social science understood the assassination (which occurred in 1901) and the assassin – a man named Leon Czolgosz.

In all, I examine Sociology, Criminology (including the criminal law), Criminal Anthropology, Psychology and Psychiatry, and Political Science. Page 99 falls in chapter 3, which is about the rise of Criminology. It’s difficult to say if there is one page or chapter that hits the sweet spot of the book’s overall aim. Each chapter is both distinct and connected to the others. Page 99 begins a new section, “The Production of Social Responsibility,” which makes it a key part of the book, as a subtheme of the book is the idea that the social sciences began to exert pressure on the concept of personal responsibility. Personal responsibility was being overtaken by large structures, such as society and social forces. And yet, as Page 99 demonstrates, despite the pull of sociological forces, criminologists could not give up on the idea that the criminal should be “examined with painstaking care and by precise methods, to determine how far he is responsible.” This quote, from the criminologist Arthur Hall, proves Ford Madox Ford was right. The key to the book is the changing idea of responsibility.
Learn more about The Assassination of William McKinley at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue