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But the shot didn’t kill Garfield. The ...
But the shot didn’t kill Garfield. The drama of what happened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in turmoil. The unhinged assassin’s half-delivered strike shattered the fragile national mood of a country so recently fractured by civil war, and left the wounded president as the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power—over his administration, over the nation’s future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. A team of physicians administered shockingly archaic treatments, to disastrous effect. As his condition worsened, Garfield received help: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, worked around the clock to invent a new device capable of finding the bullet.
Meticulously researched, epic in scope, and pulsating with an intimate human focus and high-velocity narrative drive, The Destiny of the Republic will stand alongside The Devil in the White City and The Professor and the Madman as a classic of narrative history.
Posted September 10, 2013
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Medicine, Madness and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard is a non-fiction account of the assassination of President James A. Garfield. Mr. Garfield was the 20th President of these United States and the second one to be assassinated in office.
I picked up Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard because her first book The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey is a favorite of mine. I must admit that I didn’t know much about President Garfield before reading this book, I somewhat remember my history teacher mentioning the assassination (and that only with some serious prompts), but that’s just about it.
My first surprise upon reading is that I actually like Mr. Garfield, and admired him after finishing the book. Garfield’s story is a true “rags to riches” tale, the one of an honest man, who worked hard and was, undoubtedly, a genius.
The research in the book is first class, the author ties in several stories which cross each other toward the end. The story of the assassination, that of Alexander Graham Bell who was trying to create a metal detector to find the bullet, Senator Roscoe Conkling of New York who exploited the political spoils system, and that of Joseph Lister who was a pioneer of antiseptic surgery.
It is now well known, as it was in 1881, that President Garfield died of infection he got from his doctors and not from the bullet wound. If his doctors would have used Lister’s techniques (which were new at the time) he probably would have been saved. However, Garfield’s death did popularized Lister’s methods which saved thousands and thousands of people.
The Destiny of the Republic reads like a novel, an exciting page turner which will keep you wanting for more. The book reintroduces the readers to President Garfield as an eloquent, strong willed and brave politician whose legacy should be known to many more Americans.
Posted April 16, 2013
I am a huge history fan, and I have read a large range of American history books, but it has been a long time since I was as engrossed in a book as I was this one. The story of Garfield's assasination and subsequent botched medical care is one I read with astonishment. The way the author dovetailed the work of Bell and Lister intoi this book was marvelous. Furthemore, I learned what a truly great man Garfield was, and what a shame that he was taken from the history books so prematurely.
Do yourself a favor, and read this book!
Posted February 1, 2013
This is a great book that I would definitely recommend to friends. However, I did get tired of the continual digression and yet another invention. From the beginning it bothered me that the author started it out at the World's Fair, kind of like Eric Larson's fantastic Devil in the White City, and used the same general format. If I hadn't read Devil before this, I probably would have loved this book.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.