Susan Wels with Michael Krasny - An Assassin in Utopia (Corte Madera Store)

Susan Wels
in conversation with Michael Krasny

An Assassin in Utopia

Corte Madera Store

Sat., February 11, 2023 • 4:00pm PT

This event will be hosted in-person at Book Passage's Corte Madera Store. Please contact with questions regarding events.

NY Times Review!  

Washington Post Review! 

From New York Times bestselling author Susan Wels comes an astonishing true crime odyssey exploring a forgotten chapter of American history: An Assassin in Utopia: The True Story of a Nineteenth-Century Sex Cult and a President’s Murder. In this page-turning narrative, Wels expertly traces the connection between a free-love community in upstate New York and the shocking assassination of President James Garfield.

It was heaven on earth—and, some whispered, the devil’s garden.

An Assassin in Utopia is the first book that weaves together these explosive stories in a tale of utopian experiments, political machinations, and murder. This deeply researched narrative—by bestselling author Susan Wels—tells the true, interlocking stories of the Oneida Community and its radical founder, John Humphrey Noyes; his idol, the eccentric newspaper publisher Horace Greeley (founder of the New Yorker and the New York Tribune); and the gloomy, indecisive President James Garfield—who was assassinated after his first six months in office.

Against a vivid backdrop of ambition, hucksterism, epidemics, and spectacle, the book’s stories fuse together in the climactic murder of President Garfield in 1881—and ultimately, the collapse of the Oneida Community. Colorful and compelling, An Assassin in Utopia is an unforgettable journey through America’s nineteenth-century cultural and political landscape. 

Susan Wels is a bestselling author, historian, and journalist. Her Titanic: Legacy of the World’s Greatest Ocean Liner spent fourteen weeks on the New York Times bestseller list; the book was also a Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and USA Today bestseller. Her work has received press coverage in PEOPLE, Smithsonian’s Air & Space Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner, and the San Jose Mercury-News, among others. Wels’s work as a historian includes her acclaimed San Francisco: Arts for the City as well as her research on the role of women at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. Wels and her husband divide their time between the San Francisco Bay Area and their farm in the south of Chile.

Michael Krasny is the former host of the award winning KQED Forum, a program discussing news and public affairs, current events, culture, health, business and technology.


Susan Wels photo courtesy of Gina Logan; Michael Krasny photo courtesy of the author



Book Passage Corte Madera
51 Tamal Vista Blvd
Corte Madera, CA 94925
An Assassin in Utopia: The True Story of a Nineteenth-Century Sex Cult and a President's Murder By Susan Wels Cover Image
ISBN: 9781639363124
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pegasus Crime - February 7th, 2023