Path of Peril
The premise behind this novel is to understand and hear the voices of men plotting to assassinate President Theodore Roosevelt. The time would be his visit to Panama Canal and until this trip, no president had traveled abroad.
In 1911 Former President Theodore Roosevelt told an audience in California, that he decided as Chief Executive to ensure access to the isthmus of Panama, then part of the nation of Columbia to get a canal built as the centerpiece of America’s growing political power. Just what preceded this is part of the basis and history imparted in this historical novel. Maurice Latta was chosen to accompany Roosevelt on his trip in 1906 and as his press secretary, he had to make sure the President kept to his schedule and keep him, watchful secret service agents, out of danger. Edith Roosevelt was worried about threats to the president and each person observes the inequalities and many opportunities along the way.
As we get to know more about him before and during his trip, the author shares the fact that he focused on relief for the unemployed, recovery of the economy back to normal levels, and reform of the financial system to prevent another depression.
The trip and the novel are told in many voices that if Maurice Latta, two reporters fighting to get the story first got their publications, those that were in charge of the isthmus, the railroad, and the dangerous group planning to kill him on his train ride by blowing up the train. Arthur Sitwell, Anthony Santelli, and along with other Italian men devised a plan. The Taylor Street anarchist Cell was born and Sitwell was inducted into it. But somehow the plot was discovered several agents tried to uncover who, where, and why.
Numerous voices are heard when many walk with Roosevelt with his wife, staffers, and many others hoping to join him on his visit to Panama Canal in 1906. The voices of the assassins are strong and heard and their rationale is understood but never veering to making them champions of their own justice. Each character rrepresents his/ her own story, struggles and an author whose focus is the plot on the president’s life but each narrative sets off different viewpoints on the changes taking place in Panama and the separation from Columbia plus the largest construction of the largest engineering of this time period.
The plot gets more intense when a shooter is present while Roosevelt is giving his speech and Maurice uses his finger to move the there’s a shooter. Quick to move the agents get him as another story unfolds.
Several plotlines as we meet Sally and Sean Miller. Sally has the plan to trade identities with an old friend to get money from the president. How will it unfold? Then we meet high officials that attend the establishment of Sally Miller plus the voice of a killer Alberto Agresti anarchist from New Jersey whose plan to take out Roosevelt seemed surefire to him but what about in the end?
Maurice summarizes all those that he met and their roles in saving TR. Jerry Fowler, Steven Bonner, Larry Richey, Frank Tyree, secretary Bishop and more. In his heart, Maurice knew he saved the President. Read chapter Maurice Latta November 16, 1906. Read about the photographer named Red Hallen and the trip to the Cut. The amazing shots of the Bucyrus Foundry and Manufacturing Company. TR’s love affair with the shovel made an impression on Fred. Fred would write the next week’s article in Collier’s. Fred made notes every time he heard about technology and Mr. De Lisser’s articles in the Gleaner. The President focused on a gripe session dealing with the operator’s deserved overtime. Maurice scribbled so much after they visited the machine shoot, hospital ms, more housing, canteens, and the houses for white employees why wasn’t promised turn delivered? Chatting with Negro laborers, health officers, and clerks and then lunching with the chief engineer John Stevens and more.
The final chapters allow readers to really get to know Maurice and understand TR and his reasons for keeping the attempted murder a secret and the visit from a young boy named Sean claiming to be his nephew. Then we revisit Jeffrey Fowler ICC Division engineer and nephew of Daniel who shows up. But things take a dark turn when Daniel winds up in the hospital and the shock of his illness was sad and at that time not curable. We learn more about hand labor and steam shovels and their importance plus the Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad served as another training ground. Dangers that canal workers faced were highlighted by journalists. Then some harsh truths come out about Michael Thompson’s niece who is abused by her boss. More in-depth pages 277-280.
With a surprise ending and revelations about the characters and where they wind up, author Marlie Parker Wasserman takes us back in time to understand the importance of the Panama Canal, the injustices some faced, the inequalities and one man Theodore Roosevelt spent a lifetime to right the wrongs so many faced.
The author in her historical notes states that she dug deep into the history of the Panama Canal and the history of anarchism and plots against presidents. A true-to-life historical novel allowing readers to join the Path of Peril along with the huge cast of characters.
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