Praise for An Assassin in Utopia:
"Wels centers this intriguing and sprawling survey of late 19th-century America on the Oneida Community, an agrarian society founded by John Humphrey Noyes and based on his religious beliefs and free love. American history buffs will find much of interest. Fans of Candice Millard’s work will want to have a look."
– Publishers Weekly
"Wels’s kaleidoscopic romp is an undeniable thrill. This is a book to be sidled up to like a buffet...An expert and well-paced dissection of post-Civil War politics."
– The New York Times Book Review
“An Assassin in Utopia offers an engaging glimpse of the times. There is much to enjoy. The descriptions are vivid, the pace is brisk, and the connections among its characters are often surprising. Informative and entertaining.”
– Gerard Helferich, The Wall Street Journal
"Packed with colorful characters and well-chosen details, this book is an engrossing account of Victorian-era American eccentricity. I was thoroughly immersed. The ending is a page turner as Wels describes Garfield’s last days alive, oblivious to Guiteau skulking in the shadows."
– The Washington Post
"Readers will find Guiteau’s devolution into an assassin and the history of Oneida both fascinating and shocking, with uncanny parallels to today’s news stories."
– Library Journal
“Juggling incels and libertines, the mighty and the mightily deranged, Susan Wels deftly brings us this close to an amazing cast of real-life nineteenth century characters—admirable and horrific, brilliant and doomed, messianic and utterly mad—making them (and their vivid emotions) newly relatable to our era. You’ll be casting An Assassin in Utopia in your head, even as it demonstrates that Free Love is anything but, and that one man can make a difference, often in the worst way possible. This is like David McCullough on acid.”
– Chris Connelly, ABC News correspondent and ESPN reporter
"Susan Wels has assembled a large and rowdy cast of characters in this immensely enjoyable and engrossing book. Self-proclaimed messiahs, patronage-dealing politicians, ink-stained journalists, table-rapping mediums, tent-raising charlatans: All are trying to make their mark in Gilded Age America. And, remarkably, all their paths cross in An Assassin in Utopia, with surprising and tragic results."
– John Kelly, Columnist, The Washington Post
"Susan Wels is a gifted and masterful storyteller. Her book is a fascinating, well-told tale of a presidential assassination and sexually unbridled would-be utopia. She provides vivid, nuanced details of the time and some of its most interesting characters —including publisher Horace Greely, showman P. T. Barnum, feminist and foreign correspondent Margaret Fuller, the spirit-seeking Fox sisters, a cross-dressing Union spy, and major political figures of the period. An Assassin in Utopia is a deeply researched, riveting book told with impressive command and narrative power. I strongly recommend it.”
– Michael Krasny, Professor Emeritus of American Literature and retired host of public radio's