On a stifling, hot afternoon in September 1901, a young anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, who has been stalking President William McKinley, waits in line to meet the president, his right hand wrapped in a handkerchief and held across his chest as though it were in a sling. But the handkerchief conceals a .32-caliber revolver. When the president greets him, Czolgosz fires two shots.
The nation quickly plummets into fear and anger. A week later, rioting mobs attempt to lynch McKinley's assassin, and across the country, political dissidents such as the notorious Emma Goldman are tracked down and arrested. Driven by a sense of duty and by his love for a beautiful Russian prostitute, Czolgosz's confidant, Moses Hyde, infiltrates an anarchist group as it sets in motion a deadly scheme designed to push the country into a state of terror.
The Anarchist brilliantly renders a haunting and belligerent twentieth-century landscape teeming with corrupt politicians, kind-hearted prostitutes, dissidents, and immigrants eager for a fresh start. It is an America where every allegiance is questioned, and every hope and aspiration comes at a price.