On the flight to Amsterdam, I finished reading Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt by Edward P. Kohn. The book fits loosely into my long term project to read books about all of the presidents. I actually bought the book in 2010 when I heard the author on the old Jon Stewart Daily Show. It has been sitting on my bookcase for almost six years!?!
Theodore Roosevelt was a New City Police commissioner during the the heat wave. While the book looks at Roosevelt and the role he played in and around the heat wave, William Jennings Bryan is really a lot more of a focus of the book.
Bryan was the Democratic nominee for President; he was running against McKinley. In the middle of the August heat wave, Bryan came to New York City's Madison Square Garden to kick off his presidential campaign with a speech. For a number of reasons, including the heat wave, the speech was a failure. Many people blame the failure of the speech for essentially killing Bryan's presidential campaign. The book also gives you a little taste of the McKinley presidential campaign.
Although I read the Woodrow Wilson book, I had forgotten that Bryan later served as Wilson's Secretary of State. Bryan played a major role in keeping the United States out of the first half of World War I.
While it has some interesting pieces, it is not a very good book. I felt that the book was very repetitive talking about the impact of the heat wave. It seemed like it repeated the same kind of examples over and over. I don't recommend the book.