Customer Reviews for

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 279 Customer Reviews
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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2011

    Highly recommended

    Candice Millard has a superb narrative style and has written a compelling and fascinating book about the all too short presidency of James Garfield and the ignorant and abysmal state of the medical profession in his day. Garfield was an eloquent genius who, had he lived, would have made a first rate President of the United States. He didn't have to die at that time and the reasons for the mishandling of his recovery from a gun shot wound makes for a truly bone chilling read. A "hard to put down" book!

    40 out of 42 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 13, 2011

    Our Forgotten President

    James Garfield. Do you know who he is? If you posses an average knowledge of history you will probably respond with something like this. "Was he a president or something?" That's it. Not much more is probably known about Garfield and that is pretty distressing. In Candice Millard's recent book, "Destiny of the Republic - A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President" she attempts to right this wrong. This is a fascinating true story of an American who broke the chains of poverty through hard and honest work. Garfield went on to start a family build a home of a farm after saving his money, and continued to better hilself with self-education and would eventually leave a profound mark on this nation. Garfield loved his family and he loved his books. One reporter remarked after interviewing Garfield in his home during the 1880 presidential election, "wherever you looked you were presented with a book". When the Civil War erupted in 1861 Garfield left his family and served the Union and rose through the ranks to General. Towards the end of the war Garfield was elected to Congress without campaigning or asking for the office. His reputation was so strong the office came to him. After entering Congress everyone around him could see that Garfield was honest, fair and open minded in everything he did. Eventually he found himself tangled in the tumultuous presidential election of 1880. Running for the Republican Nomination was Ulysses S. Grant (third term), James G. Blaine and John Sherman. The nomination process went on for 2 days, ballot after ballot failed to claim a winner. Although Garfield, who had just won an Ohio Senate seat was working hard to get Sherman the nomination support slowing ebbed in his direction. Garfield did not want the nomination and worked hard to oppose it. However everyone was tired of the "party politics" at that point and Garfield's reputation was un-like anyone running. Garfield was nominated against his wishes and at the end of the second day was awarded the nomination. As was his work ethic, Garfield who was very uncomfortable with the nomination worked hard for his country and went on to defeat another Civil War hero for the presidency in 1880, Democrat Winfield Scott. Evil lurks all around us. At the same time Garfield was succeeding at everything he tried Charles E. Guiteau was failing. Guiteau attempted it seems everything. From obtaining entrance into college, law work, writing, theology, politics and even marriage he failed miserably in all of them. Guiteau most likely failed at everything because he was insane. During the 1880 election standing on a street corner Guiteau reportedly made a corner speech supporting Garfield. Because of this, Guiteau believed he was "owed" a political job from Garfield. After the election Guiteau haunted the White House and even met the president once, which was not unusual at the time. An office job was refused of course which led to Garfield's murder at Guiteau's hand only 2 months after the election. There is so much more to this excellent book and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to escape into the past for a brief time and learn something about our 20th president, James A. Garfield. OH, I Almost Forgot If you take the time to read this book you will be angered and upsept that Garfield should have survived the gunshot he sustained. The doctors so botched the work he suffered in misery and slowly died. A tragic fate he surely did not

    25 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 27, 2011

    Not "happy" but fascinating account.

    When my four-year-old daughter asked what I was reading, I informed her a "book about a president." Her reply, "boring!" Not at all! This book has been receiving rave reviews for a reason.

    It does not read like a history textbook but a fascinating narrative of a would-be amazing president and a truly one-of-a-kind American. It touches on how his assassination united a torn nation, bringing to mind the way we feel about 9/11 today.

    I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in a fabulous, quick, but not "happy" read.

    16 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 29, 2011

    A Much Forgotten Statesman President

    President James Garfield is much neglected in an American History survey course due to the short length of his presidency. Read this book and you will regret that we did not have his wisdom, fairness, honesty, and sense of justice for much longer. It is very poignant at this point in our political circumstances that President Garfield in his time, was able to bring together diverse affiliations - especially between the North and the South. At this death, he even changed the values and priorities of that Conkling underling - the Vice President-now new President Arthur. This book is also a excellent overview of how arrogant and non-believing physicians in the science of germ theory and sepsis did more harm than good in the treatment of our 20th president - President James Garfield.

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 28, 2011

    One of the finest books i have read.

    A fascinating account of an important american and his life. I will review the author's other books after reading them as well!

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Great book!

    This book kept my attention from beginning to end. I learned a lot about this president.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 25, 2011

    Read and Rave

    When I first saw this book I was thinking that it would be boring, what with the title and all. However after reading a few pages and of course the synopsis I cannot help but compare it to JFK's story in real life. President killed by a gunshot. Anyway, this is a good book and very much worthy of the price.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2012

    A great read!

    A book that tells a sad story about a man who could have gone down a one of the greatest of presidents but instead fallen by the insanity of anassasin.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2011

    Good read

    Fastinating storyline, intervoven with historical facts of the time.
    This one was a quick read.
    It's a real shame that James Garfield never serves his full term. He showed the promise of being an historic president in the short time he was in office.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Highly recommend

    Fantastic read - history buffs will appreciate this book.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2011

    Excellent! Could not put it down!

    Well written and inspiring! A great portrait of a good man and leader: President James Garfield.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2012

    Excellent book! Very well written and paced beautifully. I enj

    Excellent book! Very well written and paced beautifully. I enjoyed this book so much I read her previous book, River of Doubt. Ms. Millard is an excellent writer and she should be encouraged. I finished this book and attempted to read "The President and the Assassin" and that book is nowhere near as good as this one. Highly recommend this book and her "River of Doubt." She is on my short list of outstanding authors.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2012

    Among the interesting facts in the well-researched, well-written

    Among the interesting facts in the well-researched, well-written and well-paced book are:

    1) Garfield did NOT want the Democratic nomination for Presidential candidate when it was thrust upon him at the DNC. He had never agreed to having his name put forward and was horrified when the Democrats insisted. I can’t help thinking how perhaps the people who want to be president the most are the ones we should refuse to elect.

    2) How about this for an electioneering attitude: “Traveling from town to town and asking for votes was considered undignified for a presidential candidate. Abraham Lincoln had not given a single speech on his own behalf during either of his campaigns, and Rutherford B. Hayes advised Garfield to to the same.” Garfield agreed wholeheartedly. He tilled his fields, built an irrigation system, harvested his crops and generally ignored all the bad political behavior. In October a singing group from the all-black university in Nashville “came to Garfield’s modest farmhouse and sang for him.” It was apparently a most moving performance, especially for Garfield who had been since earliest childhood a vehement Abolitionist. When the singers finished he said, “I tell you now, in the closing days of this campaign, that I would rather be with you and defeated than against you and victorious.” I wonder who would dare say that today?

    Of course, sadly, Garfield was shot shortly after taking office and served only six month as President. The shortest term of all. A great pity.

    The medical passages here are grueling. The arrogance of the medical establishment at the time insisted there was no reason for antiseptic. The number of unwashed fingers probing the presidential wound is stomach-churning, as are the rats, raw sewage seeping through the White House, and general filth. The bullet, we learn, was not the cause of the president's death. It was the subsequent, physician-caused infection. A hideous and slow death by sepsis.

    I found this book touching, tragic and a real eye opener. Arrogance, hypocrisy, political wrangling, lies, the oppression of the poor, robber barons -- all the things we think are specific to the present are, in fact, present in the past. We would to well to cast an eye back and learn some hard lessons. The great gift of history such as this is that it can act as a canary in a coal mine. It makes one think how much better we could, and should do.

    I finished the book wondering at the great loss of such a thoughtful, intelligent, deeply moral man. What might have been different had he lived?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    A Lesson in Gratitude

    How grateful I am to Millard for not only introducing me to Garfield, who I am sure would have been one of our country's most stellar presidents, but for reminding me just how fortunate I am to live now, when we have it "easy" as compared to those who lived in the late 1800s. It was fascinating to see A. G. Bell in action and reading how hard he tried to do something, anything, to ease Garfield's suffering--the heroism of both men was so astonishing that I found myself believing them more fictional than real. Millard scraps the scabby egos of men like Bliss, Conkling, and Guiteau-three real villains -and allows each man to ¿hang¿ himself for all time simply by virtue of his own behavior.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2013

    Wonderful!!

    Absolutely beautifully written. Such an ellegant retelling. It really makes you fall in love with so many characters, especially A. G. Bell, Garfield, his wife, and his secretary. Best book I have read in awhile. It is so informative and so captivating, and VERY hard to put down. I would most definitely recommend it to anyone. So superb!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 23, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommended

    A great book I would highly recommended reading! It gave me much insight to the Life of this President, and amazing man.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    Great read

    Millard does an outstanding job of making what could be very dry material come to life.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2012

    Very Interesting and well written book

    Very good book. Very well written book about a fascinating piece of American history that I knew very little about. I came away with a great appreciation for Garfield plus the frustration of knowing that he could and should have lived.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2012

    Great book

    Felt like you were there.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2012

    Three amazing stories in one

    Until I read Candice Millard's DESTINY of the REPUBLIC I had no idea the kind of man James Garfield was and the kind of President he might have become. In fact, I really had no inkling at all who James Garfield was other than briefly our 20th President. He was a man who was able to unite the North and South even after his death. But the other incredible stories involve his shooter, Charles Guiteau, and the medical professionals supposedly treating President Garfield.

    Millard brings a very human portrayal to the man James Garfield. His strong belief in equality for all humans, his distaste for politics and the "rewards system" then common in government, and his personal side as a husband (although far from perfect) and father, and friend.

    The author brings up the subject of the insanity defense. Guiteau most likely was insane. But the country as a whole demanded his execution. And yet Millard brings up the point that Guiteau's execution really did not change things. It did not really provide closure for Garfield's immediate family. How could it? And it did not change the way America (or the Secret Service) looked at protection of our future Presidents from would be assassins.

    But the third story was the most maddening. That the American medical profession at the time could completely ignore the recently recognized treatment to prevent infection (antisepsis) and instead put their patient, James Garfield, through horrendous pain, agony, and ultimately a needless death. Today this would have been considered as malpractice.

    I first read Candice Millard's book on Theodore Roosevelt THE RIVER of DOUBT and greatly enjoyed her writing and telling of that story. Her handling of DESTINY of the REPUBLIC is right up there as a must read book. As an aside I find it interesting that she writes of two great Republicans; Theodore Roosevelt and James Garfield. What happened to the Republican Party? Where are men like these two individuals? Roosevelt believed in a strong military and believed we needed to take care of and protect our public lands. Garfield believed in equality and unifying America. I think that the present Republican Party should look back into their own history and ask themselves why aren't there great men like Roosevelt and Garfield running for the Presidency today? A party that once was a protector of our natural resources and of equality and acceptance.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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