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James A. Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranJames A. Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back. 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....

Title : Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
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ISBN : 12738936
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Number of Pages : 352 Pages
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Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President Reviews

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    2019-02-13 11:24

    In recent years I've been attracted to books about obscure presidents. When I read about the Candice Millard book on James Garfield I was instantly intrigued. I mean no one knows much of anything about Garfield including myself. He is easy to pass over because he barely survived 6 months into his term as president and a good portion of that time he was fighting for his life. The only time his name is brought up in conversation is when someone is struggling to remember the names of the four assassinated presidents. James A. GarfieldGarfield is a self made man, a true American success story. He grew up on a modest farm in Ohio with his brothers and his mother. He loved books and was a life time reader of literature scoring big points with me and certainly moving up in my esteem. He worked as a carpenter at college to pay for his tuition. Everything he seemed to turn his hand to he showed above average aptitude including strategy in war time during the nations civil struggle, and in peace time as a president trying to heal the divides in his own party. Garfield's rise to the nomination in the 1880 Republican convention was not only improbable, but would have been a ludicrous thought for Garfield as well. He had no intention of seeking the nomination; in fact, he went to the convention to give the nomination speech for John Sherman, brother to General William Tecumseh Sherman. At the end of the speech instead of hearing chants for Sherman he heard chants for Garfield. In the first balloting Grant is leading by a healthy margin with Garfield only receiving a single vote. As the voting continues Garfield steadily gains a handful of votes on each round until it becomes obvious to everyone that he is the bipartisan candidate and a flood of votes go to him. Guiteau thought he deserved an office for his fervent (demented) support of the election of President Garfield. Charles J. Guiteau, to put it mildly was deranged, and history should have passed without anyone knowing his name, but for the singular moment when he was able to borrow the money from an acquaintance, go down to the local shop, and purchase a handgun for the purpose of shooting the president of the United States. The Secret Service, at this time in history, was used primarily to investigate counterfeit money. The American public felt it was too much like royalty for a President to be guarded. They felt he should be accessible to the public. Guiteau shot Garfield twice once in the arm and once in the back in the middle of a train station. After 80 days of battling for his life Garfield died not from the assassin's bullets, but from the abysmal care of his doctors. He died from an infection he acquired from his doctors poking their unsterilized fingers and equipment into his wounds. Alexander Graham BellWhen Alexander Graham Bell discovered that doctors were searching for the bullet that entered Garfield's back he thought there should be a way to find the bullet without probing for it. He invented what he called an induction machine which is basically a precursor to the Geiger counter. Doctor Bliss, the self-appointed lead doctor on the Garfield case, insisted the bullet was on the right side and would only allow Bell to scan the body on that side. If Bell had been allowed to do a full scan they would have found that the bullet was on the left side and possibly would have given Garfield a chance at life. Bell regretted for the rest of his life that he didn't insist that the machine be passed over the left side as well. Candice Millard This is such a well researched book, copiously notated and indexed. The writing style is free and easy and the chapters laid out in such a compelling fashion that I actually found myself rooting for Garfield to live even though I knew the outcome. I was also cheering for Bell, who was frantically trying to do his part to save the president. I certainly came away with a heightened respect for several people including Bell who was not only a great inventor, but a wonderful humanitarian; Garfield who was a man of vision and integrity; and Candice Millard who is a writer with passion and wonderful insight. I certainly look forward to reading her next foray into history. Will Byrnes wrote an excellent review of this book as well. It is not to be missed. Here is the link to his review: Byrnes Garfield reviewScott Miller wrote a book about the McKinley assassination that works great as a companion read to the Candice Millard book. My review is here: My McKinley ReviewIf you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at: https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  • Elyse
    2019-02-03 14:37

    I'm excited that I'm excited!!!! Does this make sense?? Have you ever been excited that you are REALLY EXCITED??? In a VERY SHORT PERIOD OF TIME I've read books about 3 American Past Presidents....I'm pleased to say.... just like the positive late bloomer reader experience WHEN A LIGHT SWITCH WENT OFF ....and I knew I'd be reading for the rest of my life.....I TURNED A HUGE CORNER AGAIN JUST IN THIS WEEK. I'm now 'clear' -- I have nothing to fear - or reasons to resist reading about past Presidents..... or U.S history-or other biographical stories. If the 'author' is terrific- research is terrific- THESE BOOKS WILL be 'as good'... if not better as ANY FICTION STORY!! It's no 'accident' that 3 books in a row about Past Presidents of the United States have been juicy enjoyable 'true' stories! Author Candice Millard meets author Taylor Jenkins Reid in "Destiny of The Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President". NO KIDDING!!!For all my 'female' friends who think they wouldn't touch this book --the book cover looks 'dry' - brown - and frightening boring???? -- I PROMISE the readers who enjoyed listening to the audiobook of "One True Loves" or "After I Do"......that if you give this audiobook a chance....( nobody was more afraid than I was)....that 'very soon' into this audiobook you'll be HOOKED .... in the SAME WAY HOOKED as you've been with TJR. The only difference-- is a part of you 'will' be proud of yourself -- for stepping outside of your comfort zone. Guess what??? PRESIDENTS ARE ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS TOO!!! I was telling a friend -- I got SO EXCITED at one point during this book - walking & listening.... that I literally cheered out loud to the trees on the trail I was hiking. .....James A. Garfield was our 20th President .....He was born in NE Ohio.... Born into poverty. .....OMG... we hear THE BEST survivor story about Garfield with he - a rope - and water! It's sooooo good -- I WONT SPOIL IT.... ( it's toward the beginning of the this book) .....Garfield went to College with the $17 his mother had saved for him. 17 dollars!!!!!! .....An excellent student -- ( oh I believe he had a reason for wanting to be the very best scholar he could be).....he was asked to TEACH CLASSES AT his University 'while' he was still an undergraduate student. Garfield loved to read and learn about 'everything'. ......Garfield became a University Professor.....While giving a speech at the Republican Convention in 1880... endorsing candidateJohn Sherman, his speech was so powerful - so real - that all the people in the room started yelling 'Garfield's' name. CHANTING grew LOUDER.... "Garfield, Garfield"!!!......Readers - audiobooks listeners will be ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEATS through what happens next ---- shaking your heads -- it's UNBELIEVABLE the way James Garfield 'wins' the Presidency. I ONLY WISH THIS HAPPENED in 2017!!!! James Garfield said: "I never had Presidential Fever, even for a day"!!!!!!!!.....A humble man - a man with so much integrity- my body ached at how much I loveWHO Garfield WAS AND ALL THAT HE STOOD FOR.I realized how MUCH my insides ARE CRYING for this type of leadership in our country. Is it any wonder that I'm reaching for books like this right now??? I'm wanting to believe in the probability and possibility of goodness, honestly, honor, justice, service for the greater needs of others... I DONT WANT TO BELIEVE THIS WAS THE END OF AN ERA!!! .....I found the story about Garfield and his wife Lucretia fascinating. The first five years of their marriage they only spent five months together. The truth about the troubles in the early years of marriage was so raw and personal -- it made me believe every single thing in this book because it was at this moment I realize nothing is being hidden. AGAIN.... I'll say....FOR READERS WHO LIKE TO READ ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS- and MARRIAGE.... it's all right here. As valuable as any fiction story!!!!.....as we dive deeper into the book --- it becomes very clear why the title includes the words madness, medicine, and murder of a President. SUCH A TRAGIC TALE!!!!!...... Garfield was an ethical guy. He was willing to work where he was needed. He was considered a rational man that would call himself a radical when it came to civil rights. He was the only President ever to deliver a speech not in English. He was a staunch ally of the newly freed black population. .....AND THEN SOME FRICKEN CRAZY GUY....Charles Guiteau shot a couple of bullets.The first shot went into Garfield's arm. The second went into his back and broke two ribs. Garfield did not die right away. Alexander Graham Bell tried to save him. He was already famous at age 34 for already having invented the telephone. He had been trying to create a machine that would be find the bullet inside the president. However, Garfield was being treated by another doctor: Dr. Bliss. There was nothing blissful about Dr. Bliss. When you hear the story it makes your stomach turn when you realize that this doctor put his dirty fingers, unwashed hands, and unsterilized instruments deep into Garfield's wounds. Joseph Lister and other scientists had already proved that infections were caused by germs and could be prevented by antiseptic practices. Basically, Garfield died from malpractice---however a jury convicted Guiteau guilty anyway. PARTS OF THIS STORY STAND OUT TO ME: 1. The way James A. Garfield 'became' President. What's the likelihood that the exact same situation that happened back in 1880 could happen like that today? 2. A smaller part of this story was the relationship - beginning dating days - early marriage - later years of marriage ... with Lucretia were interesting to me.3. The ROPE STORY is AWESOME!!!! 4. FEMALE -- author Candice Millard..... I think she's kinda inspiring!!!!5. I look at the cover of this book with TRANSFORMED eyes. I see nothing but the most beautiful man: James Garfield. Oh.... and how I enjoyed reading about when you would belly-laugh .... rolling on the floor at times. Your wife thought you were a fruitcake.... YOU WERE A MAN 'the people' loved!!! Men and women loved you.... for all the right reasons!!!!! I'm sad your life ended too soon!!! Thank you to ALL THE MANY FRIENDS WHO TOLD ME TO READ THIS BOOK! I had No idea I would ENJOY IT THIS MUCH!!!!!!This was the GREATEST HOMEWORK - book - recommendation!!!! ---haha!!! Never felt like homework!!!!!HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!!! >>> TO EVERYONE!!!!!!!!

  • Miles
    2019-02-22 13:36

    If you're like me, I'll bet you haven't given President James Garfield much thought either. Have you? Come on, admit it. He was elected in 1880, shot in 1881 and gone in months, and suddenly it was all Chester Arthur, all the time. But here's a book that manages to make mountains out of this molehill of a Presidency. First, the author persuades us that Garfield was a truly likable, magnetic, wonderful human being. Honest, thrifty, salt-of-the-earth, up from the farm, a true man of the people in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln, a scholar and a gentleman, respectful and progressive in his attitudes toward blacks, magnanimous toward his enemies, he did not seek power, but found it thrust upon him, and had he lived, the case is made, might have been a truly great President. So that's for starters. Then to spice it up a bit we learn that on his behalf, as he lay dying in the Washington summer heat, air conditioning was invented and deployed for the first time in history. For Garfield! They invented it so he would be comfortable, thus making, I don't know, the whole modern world possible, probably.Then, on his behalf, Alexander Graham Bell labored through the nights to invent a metal detector to find the bullet in his body. His efforts failed, but not because his device did not work, but rather because the physician would not allow him to inspect the left side of the body (where the bullet actually lay), insisting that he confine his metal detection to the side that the physician, Dr. Bliss, believed to be its location.Furthermore, while Dr. Bliss, the imperious surgeon who claimed full responsibility for his care and probably killed him with his dirty fingers as he probed inside his abdomen, insisted that modern ideas of sterilization were nonsense, nonetheless out in the country and in Europe physicians were imploring the White House doctor to adhere to the ideas of Lister and sterilize instruments and hands. They were unsuccessful, but following Garfield's death their ideas gained a foothold.We are treated along the way to some gloriously gruesome descriptions of anesthetic free 19th century surgery procedures, and copious amounts of puss and bodily fluids. You can skip that part if you like, but if you want to really smell the 19th century, it's worth a read too.The story of his assassin, Charles Guiteau meanwhile provides a great picture of a 19th century low-life and more or less insane person, not just during those few months, but as recreated here, over much of his life. Millard is a good story teller, weaving together historical documents and her conversations with historians into a compelling narrative that makes us want to turn the page.Finally, we have the remarkable story of Vice President Chet Arthur, a true nothing and political factotum, an errand boy to the egotistical Senator Roscoe Conkling, who mysteriously found the strength to kick his patron, Conkling, out of his life upon assuming the Presidency (earning Conkling's eternal enmity), and to begin the process of creating a civil service in the United States. All of this happened in 1880 and 1881 (and in the 3 years that followed with Arthur), and is great fun to learn about.

  • Will Byrnes
    2019-01-24 09:27

    If most people were to be asked today what they thought of Garfield, they would most likely offer an answer about a cartoon cat, and not the 20th president of the United States, the president who served only 200 days in office, the second president to be assassinated, and one of our great losses as a nation. Candice Millard, thedishy author of The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, here follows the paths of two men, the ill-fated president, James A Garfield, and the man who would see to his end, Charles Guiteau. No political conspiracies were involved, at least not outside the delusions of an addled mind. While the assassin did have political views they were likelier to be the same as those of his target than anywhere in opposition. No, he was your basic nutter, who convinced himself that God wanted him to take out the president. While clearly disturbed, Guiteau had an interesting past. His mother died when he was 7 and he was raised by his father, a religious fanatic, and follower of John Humphrey Noyes, the founder of the utopian Oneida commune in upstate New York. This cultish group favored free love, which they called “complex marriage,” among other things. Charles did not have a lot of success with the ladies, even at Oneida, which must have really stung. They practiced a form of self (really group) criticism that would gain favor with a later communal program, Mao Te Tung’s. Although the commune promised the pleasures of complex marriage, to Guiteau’s frustration, “The Community women,” one of Oneida’s members would later admit, “did not extend love and confidence toward him.” In fact, so thorough was his rejection among women that they nicknamed him “Charles Gitout.” He bitterly complained that, while at the commune, he was “practically a Shaker.” He worked as a lawyer (which at the time did not require a law degree) and a preacher and had a rather permanent and cavalier attitude toward paying his bills. I guess in that way he was a harbinger of Republicans of a later era. Guiteau was in DC seeking a political appointment from the president, just compensation, in his mind, for the assistance he had given to the campaign. He had suffered delusions of grandeur for a long time. His own family had sought to have him put away. But the slippery bastard fled before they could complete his committal.Garfield’s was a classic American success story. His parents were farmers, working land-grant turf. But dad passed away when James was still a boy. Through hard work and recognition of his native brilliance by enough people who had the means to help, Garfield managed to get an excellent education. His oratorical skills were state of the art for his time. He was elected to the state legislature and soon thereafter put into the national Congress, with hardly any effort at all on his part. This accidental president never sought that office either. In fact, he attended the 1880 Republican convention to give the nominating speech for his fellow Ohioan, John Sherman. But after dozens of ballots, with no hope of any of the major candidates winning enough votes to get the nomination, delegates began looking for an alternative. And thus was James A Garfield nominated for president by his party.Speaking of which, the Republican Party of 1880 was rather different from the GOP of today. Garfield had been anti-slavery, as had his party. For freed slaves, an impoverished and, until recently, almost entirely powerless segment of the population, Garfield represented freedom and progress, but also, and perhaps more importantly, dignity. As president, he demanded for black men nothing less than what they wanted desperately for themselves—complete and unconditional equality, born not of regret but respect.Today’s party could probably be counted on to insist that property rights trump all and turn away any attempt to get rid of such a peculiar institution. So Garfield was a pretty good guy, remarkably, considering that the Civil War had ended less than 16 years prior, acceptable to both the South and the North, a brilliant, Renaissance man. Millard offers not only a window into the personal and political history of Garfield, a literal log-cabin Republican, we also get a look at the time. One element is further confirmation re what a fetid swamp DC was (well, it remains a fetid swamp these days, but for other reasons), a place where rats roamed at will (view spoiler)[but if I step out of the way, they seem happy to dash past.(hide spoiler)] in the White House, (yes, yes, I know, sometimes they are just so easy that even I, who know no shame, have to pass, but you are free to select the party you dislike and fill in the blanks) and clouds of mosquitoes blotted out the sun. Ok, that last may be a slight exaggeration, but the gist remains. It was a biologically unhealthy place. The toxicity of DC and the White House in particular figures rather largely into the story of how James A Garfield met his end.In addition to the intersecting lines of Garfield and Guiteau, a little extra attention is directed toward a young Scottish inventor, a fellow whose chief concern was helping the hearing impaired. He had, not long before, brought to market a remarkable new device. This made for an interesting time for him. Once the world realized just what he had created, thieves, swindlers and worst of all, lawyers, came after him like a wolf pack on the trail of an injured deer. How much time must one dedicate to defending oneself in court in order to retain control of that which you, yourself created? Lots, and it was making him miserable. Still, he had a thing for inventing. When he heard of the attack on Garfield he hastened to his lab to work on a device that would, hopefully, locate the bullet inside the president’s body, without having to open him up first, a sort of early metal detector. We speak, of course, of Alexander Graham Bell, a young man still. His efforts merit considerable attention and entail a lot of drama. Actually, considering that we are all well aware of the outcome, it is rather remarkable how much dramatic tension there is in this non-fiction account. We get a look at the medical sorts who dove in when the president was shot, some reasonable, and some determined to place their own interests above the health of Garfield. We get to see yet another example of the arrogance of power leading to a dark end when it chooses to ignore scientific advances in the fact-based world. And we get to see some of the places where the leading edge of medical thought and technology were struggling for recognition. Joseph Lister had revolutionized European medical practices with his insistence on antiseptic environments for medical care. But those who insisted on local exceptionalism preferred to leave their patient in environments we would probably describe today as filthy, and saw nothing wrong with poking their fingers into open wounds. Garfield, ultimately, suffered an iatrogenic death. The bullets did not kill him. His doctors did. Sadly medical care is the third leading cause of death in the USA today, so some things have not changed all that much.Re government, Millard fills us in on some of the political game-playing of the time, and how it was used to generate governmental stasis. There is much here that resonates, and that reminds us how far we have come in some ways, and how little we have grown in others. I contemplated making a table showing 1880 vs 2013, and doing the comparison (and contrast) more graphically, but I will leave that for other reviewers. I merely note that such a list could indeed be constructed.One interesting point made here is that both Guiteau and Garfield felt themselves to have been touched by God. Both had faced death while aboard ships and both felt that they had been spared by the Almighty for some greater purpose. It seems unlikely that they were both right. History books need not be dull. The best give us a sense of a time and a place, let us see some of the personalities afoot in that world, look into how things came to be the way they were and how events of that time have echoed down to us today. A good popular history book makes us stop, rub our chins and mutter to no one in particular, “I did not know that.” On all counts, Candice Millard has succeeded. While the subject is not exactly laugh-riot material, if you love to learn, it will make you smile. It has made others smile as well. Destiny was awarded a PEN award for research nonfiction, and an Edgar Award for best Fact Crime book of 2011.And it is quite filling. If you are of a cartoonish persuasion, you might even think of it as lasagna for the brain. For another consideration of this book, you could do worse than to check out Jeffrey Keeten’s excellent review

  • Candi
    2019-02-09 14:19

    "There would come a time when the story of James Garfield's early life would be widely admired. Throughout the nation and around the world, his extraordinary rise from fatherlessness and abject poverty would make him the embodiment of the American dream."This is an outstanding biography of the 20th President of the United States, one whom I admittedly knew very little about previously. James A. Garfield has left such an estimable impression on me after reading this comprehensively researched book by Candice Millard. Having completed only four months of his term before being shot by a madman, Garfield was not able to serve this nation to the great potential he would undoubtedly have done if events had not taken such a drastic turn in his life. Born into extreme poverty, James Garfield's story is quite remarkable. A brilliant man, he applied himself rigorously and went from working as janitor while attending Western Reserve Eclectic Institute in Ohio to serving as assistant professor by his second year. After graduating from Williams College in Massachusetts, he would later become president of the Eclectic Institute by the age of twenty-six. He quickly achieved the rank of major general during the Civil War and later went on to serve in the House of Representatives. Without ever seeking a nomination, Garfield suddenly found himself running in the presidential election and winning by a narrow margin. A family man and a scholar, Garfield was perhaps pushed from those things he was most passionate about into the throes of politics and what he called "intellectual dissipation." However, always a fighter and possessing a drive not due to ambition but a desire to improve and reform, Garfield rose to the occasion in his new position. Unfortunately, there was one who felt his own fame inevitably linked to that of the president's. Charles Guiteau, religious fanatic and sociopath, would seek a political appointment he felt was his due. When denied what he felt was his right, Guiteau would then take matters into his own hands with the excuse of "divine inspiration", and rid the Americans of this president who he claimed was a "danger to his party and his country". What occurs next is a shocking account of the harmful medical practices that ultimately were more dangerous than the bullet that entered Garfield's back. There were so many factors here that worked for and against the eventual fate of this president. People like Alexander Graham Bell who toiled exhaustively on an invention to determine the location of the bullet, the support of the American people, and the strong body and spirit of the president himself were all favorable components to a successful recovery. However, a team of doctors led by a physician that refused to acknowledge the success of Joseph Lister's antiseptic techniques that were in practice in Europe at this time and had been known for several years prior to this event – this is what eventually led to Garfield's decline. This book was fascinating – I was actually quite surprised to become so absorbed by the persons and historical details occurring at this critical time following the Civil War in this country. Candice Millard is a skillful researcher and writer; most of the time I almost forgot this was non-fiction. There is perhaps one part of the book that may be a bit dry to readers less interested in the politics of the time, but this is really just a small portion of the entire account. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in American history, medicine and science. There is a plethora of valuable information on these topics to be found within these pages.5 stars

  • Matt
    2019-02-04 08:37

    History has not done much to remember the 20th President of the United States. Perhaps it was because James A. Garfield was shot just four months into his term of office. Or maybe it’s because he has the misfortune to share a surname with an orange cartoon cat who loves lasagna and hates Mondays. Whatever the reason, Garfield has been unfairly removed from popular knowledge, and exists mainly as an answer your beer-fogged mind struggles to form during trivia night at the local bar. Candice Millard’s Destiny of the Republic does an excellent job with the triple tragedy of Garfield’s life. First, his shooting. Second, his lingering death, as his ignorant butcher-doctors ensured his doom, but only after great suffering. Finally, attempting to remedy the indignity of his disappearance from memory. Millard tells this story by focusing on four main players. The main player, of course, is Garfield himself. Born into abject poverty, he raised himself by dint of sheer ability. He taught school, fought commendably in the Civil War (achieving the rank of brigadier general), and was a highly respected congressman before emerging as a dark horse Republican presidential candidate in the election of 1880. There was much decency in him, especially as a proponent of black civil rights.Charles Guiteau: A man with "some derangement of his mental organization," according to John LoganThe villain of the piece is Charles Guiteau, a “writer” and “lawyer” and castoff from John Humphrey Noyes’ Oneida Community, where despite the prevalence of free love, no woman would touch him. Guiteau was hyper religious and delusional, his chief delusion being convinced that newly-elected President Garfield owed him a job as American consul in Paris. When that job was not forthcoming, Guiteau borrowed some money (which he never meant to pay off, as he was notorious for walking away from debts) and purchased a .44 caliber Webley British Bulldog revolver (he opted for the ivory over wooden grip). On July 2, 1881, Guiteau ambushed Garfield at the Baltimore & Pacific Railroad Station in Washington, D.C. The assassin fired two shots at point blank range, one of which entered Garfield’s back and lodged behind his pancreas. He was soon attended to by doctors, who shoved their dirty fingers to probe the wound. Unfortunately, they determined that the bullet had come to rest near his liver. These kinds of mistakes are known to occur when doctors create bullet tracks with inexpert probing. Guiteau's ambush of Garfield Thus enters the third major character of this saga, Dr. Doctor Willard Bliss. No, that name is not a typo, or a castoff joke from Airplane. Dr. Bliss’ first name was Doctor. This, I suppose, is what we call aspirational naming. Dr. Bliss took over Garfield’s care with a tyrannical authority. In and of itself, this might not have been a terrible occurrence. But Dr. Bliss had two things working against him. He was often wrong, and he was too conceited and arrogant to allow for that possibility. Right up until Garfield gasped his last, Dr. Bliss was telling everyone who’d listen that the President was going to be fine. At the periphery of this story, Millard follows Alexander Graham Bell. Famed as the inventor of the telephone, Bell worked furiously to invent a metal detector to find the bullet buried in Garfield’s body. He came up with a working device, but was unable to find the precise location. Only an autopsy revealed that the doctors – directed by Bliss – had been looking in the wrong place all along. Millard is a fantastic historian and writer. Her books are well-researched and filled with memorable details. Her prose is graceful and she is a natural storyteller. At just 300 pages of text, this is a short book that I finished in only a couple reads. The fatal weaponMillard is a popular historian who gets right to the point in her judgments. She is not afraid to draw conclusions. This makes for an effortless, entertaining read, with a certain amount of attitude. However, there is a tradeoff in that Millard’s declamations come at a loss of some nuance. There is altogether more telling than showing. On the whole, I do not disagree that Garfield was a good man with the potential for greatness within him. Yet Millard’s portrait is so strikingly positive that it doesn’t ring entirely true. When she mentions, almost offhand, that Garfield cheated on his hopelessly devoted wife Lucretia, it sort of jolted me in an I was not expecting that sort of way. In that same vein, I hesitate as to how much weight to put into Millard’s flattering portrayal of Garfield’s relationship to black America. His views on racial equality sound almost too good to be true for a 19th American. Of course, I say this without evidence. Everything I knew about Garfield coming into this book can be encapsulated in three sentences. (1) Fought in the Civil War. (2) Murdered at a train station. (3) Separate and distinct from the cat. Millard has several different threads woven around the central storyline of Garfield’s assassination. One of the big ones is a withering critique of the state of American medicine in the 1880s. She introduces Joseph Lister, a pioneering British physician who developed effective sterilization techniques to avoid infection following surgery. Lister’s methods were widely ignored if not outright mocked by many in the American medical establishment. Had they been employed on Garfield, it is likely he would have survived, since Guiteau’s bullet did not nick any arteries or puncture any organs. Indeed, Garfield likely would’ve survived had he simply been left alone entirely. (As I noted above, I don’t know much about Garfield. However, I’ve read a bit more on American medical history, and Millard’s take squares with what I’ve seen presented elsewhere, such as in John Barry’s Spanish Flu epic, The Great Influenza). The mind of a murderer. Literally. A jar containing the remains of Guiteau's brainAnother major subplot is the spoils system of government. At the time of Garfield’s unlikely ascendancy, many important government posts were filled by the patronage system. Men who were loyal to the president of the winning party were given plum posts – such as customs collector – for which they received tidy salaries. We think of politics today as corrupt, but that doesn’t even begin to describe the spoils system. Garfield’s death was widely seen as the consequence of this system, since Guiteau – aside from being mentally deranged – was a jilted office-seeker. To the surprise of all, Chester A. Arthur, former bagman to spoils-don Roscoe Conklin, seized the emotional moment of his predecessor’s death to get a civil service bill passed into law. The major downside to Destiny of the Republic is its length. The brevity is wonderful in the sense that it leaves you wanting more. At the same time, it leaves you wanting more. I wanted more amplification on Garfield’s rise from Ohio congressman to presidential candidate (Millard makes it seem like he made one humble speech and nabbed it). I wanted Guiteau’s trial, conviction, and execution given more space to breathe. (It feels rushed). I wanted – well, you get the picture. It’s been said a good book can never be too long, and that’s definitely the case here. Destiny of the Republic left me bereft. I mourned, relatively speaking, the loss of James Abram Garfield, a man to whom I’d never before given more than two thoughts. It’s hard to say whether he would have been a great president, since greatness is not only in rising to the occasion, but having an occasion to rise to. But we will never know, and that’s the hard thing. He was certainly a man of exceptional promise, cut down before that promise fully revealed itself.

  • Diane
    2019-02-08 13:16

    This is another fascinating history book from Candice Millard. Destiny of the Republic is about the life of President James Garfield and Charles Guiteau, the deranged man who assassinated him in 1881. There's also great stuff on the history of medicine, including how long it took before American doctors believed in the importance of sterile instruments and in the dangers of infections in wounds.One of the frustrating side effects of reading a lot of history is realizing how many times that things should have turned out differently. In this case, James Garfield was a smart, thoughtful, kind and considerate man who worked hard at being a good leader and president. His early death was a great loss for this country. Additionally, had his doctors been more careful about germs and infection, Garfield could have survived the gunshot wound. Argh, the madness of it!I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes presidential biographies, stories about lunatics, or details on the history of medicine. If you're new to Millard's work, I also highly recommend her books Hero of the Empire, which is about a young Winston Churchill, and The River of Doubt, which is about a crazy trip Teddy Roosevelt took down the Amazon. Millard is one of my favorite narrative nonfiction writers working today.Favorite Quote"Garfield's shooting had also revealed to the American people how vulnerable they were. In the little more than a century since its inception, the United States had become a powerful and respected country. Yet Americans suddenly realized that they still had no real control over their own fate. Not only could they not prevent a tragedy of such magnitude, they couldn't even anticipate it. The course of their lives could be changed in an instant, by a man who did not even understand what he had done."

  • Michael
    2019-02-02 09:12

    I learned a lot of facts from this account of the 1881 Garfield assassination, and I was moved by the plight of good people handicapped by the lack modern advances in presidential security and medical care. But I wasn’t enthralled with how the pieces of the book came together or with the limited reflections on the big picture. I liked the foreshadowing method Millard employed near the beginning with a visit to the 1876 science and technology exposition in Chicago. There we get Lister failing to persuade the backward American medical profession to adopt his methods of antisepsis, and we get a view of Alexander Graham Bell demonstrating the telephone for the first time. The lack of sanitary precautions by the doctors caring for Garfield’s bullet wound led to his slow death by infection over the 80 days of his survival. Bell’s inventive genius gets harnessed in story with intensive efforts to create a metal detector which could pinpoint where the bullet was located in Garfield’s body. But we never get much detail on the efforts of more enlightened doctors to wrest control of the case from the dishonest quack Dr. Bliss who took over the case, and the device invented by Bell proved ineffective and would not have helped with Garfield’s care if it was.A significant portion of the book is devoted to the life and madness of Garfield’s assassin, Charles Guiteau. Because Garfield’s shooting came in the first months of his presidency, there is little sense of the tragedy and import of an interrupted political agenda as with the Lincoln and Kennedy assassinations. All we learn is that Garfield sought to reform the patronage system in the civil service and supported rights for blacks. Because the historical consequences of Garfield death are unclear, the motivations and life trajectory of Guiteau did not fascinate me. The fact that there was virtually no security for the President is an interesting fact that just hangs there. That the Secret Service wasn’t tasked with presidential protection until after McKinley’s assassination 20 years later is another baffling fact. The issue on the insanity defense in Guiteau’s trial did interest me, but all we know is that somehow the jurors were not swayed, and an execution by hanging resulted. Ultimately, the characters in this history didn’t quite come alive for me, so I wasn’t emotionally engaged at the same level I attain in works by other popular historical writers I love, such as McCullough, Goodwin, Ambrose, and Sides. Still, Millard’s talent in writing, her pacing, weaving of themes, and marshaling of quotes, was impressive, and I look forward to exploring her other work and future books. Her light touch in this book in focusing on highlights serves readers well who are interested in the skeleton of an historical story. Maybe her reticence to jump onto an agenda or take a stand in interpretation makes her a more objective historian than my favored authors, but my pleasure meter is moved more by writers who take a clear stand and go out on a limb in their judgments.

  • Linda
    2019-01-22 10:22

    What drew me into Destiny of the Republic was a PBS Special that aired not too long ago. We all had a skeletal understanding of the assassination of James A. Garfield. Garfield, unfortunately, became an elusive name in the litany of former presidents. Ah, dear readers, this man was so much more.In regard to the author, Candice Millard is an exceptional writer. I read her book, The River of Doubt, that depicts the treacherous journey of Teddy Roosevelt as he ventured down the Amazon River. This river trip almost did Teddy in. He suffered greatly in the mix of it and in the subsequent aftermath.In regard to Garfield......A petal that falls from a budding flower hardly diminishes the beauty and the intention of that flower. But a petal that falls from the bloom of history can have an impact and a lasting effect within the course of time and destiny. It is, in my humble opinion, that in 2016 we may have experienced a different America in the years following his presidency if this man had lived.Garfield came upon the presidency by sheer happenstance. In 1880 he was at a deadlocked Republican Convention to nominate another as a candidate. Instead, his own name was pushed forward. Garfield came from the most humble and poorest background. He didn't own a pair of shoes until he was 4 years old. His brilliant mind pushed him from being a janitor at the university to becoming its president two years later. He even served as a general in the Union Army.While in Congress, Garfield introduced a resolution to allow blacks to walk freely through the streets of Washington, D.C. without carrying a pass. He asked, "What legislation is necessary to secure equal justice to all loyal persons, without regard to color, at the national capitol?" He gave passionate speeches in support of black suffrage and better treatment of former slaves. Garfield made it clear in his inaugural address that he would not tolerate the discrimination he knew that was taking place in the South. He felt that ignorance was at the root of the problem and it was the sacred duty of the North and South to educate all of its people regardless of color.But, sadly, Garfield became a victim of ignorance at the hands of the medical community. The mental derangement of his murderer, Charles Guiteau, was swept aside by those who wished not to take an active role in committing him to a mental institution years before. Garfield died, not by the bullet that entered his back that day, but at the very hands of the ignorant doctors who constantly probed for it and introduced deadly sepsis. Garfield suffered in unspeakable ways.Destiny of the Republic reads much like a novel. I think we can all look back in hindsight to the should haves and could haves that lay heavy at the feet of this great nation of ours. Garfield served only 4 months into his presidency when he was struck down....a life too short, but perhaps, bearing messages still relevant today and into the future.

  • Stephanie *Very Stable Genius*
    2019-02-04 09:27

    If a mentally ill person had not been able to get his hands on a gun, the secret service was doing the job that it does today, if doctors didn’t consider the science of antisepsis the way the anti science crowd considers climate change today, Ohio would have had a significant president in James A. Garfield.I had a long review written here that seemed to have grown out of control. I decided I would let you read the book instead, and you should. In short(er) Mr. Garfield grew up poorer than poor. He rose out of it, went to college then into politics. He was an abolitionist and worked with the Underground Railroad. He was against the secession of the southern states and became an accomplished military man. He was intelligent, kind and empathetic, everyone loved him. He proved the Pythagorean Theorem while in congress just for something to do. He became the president of the United States against his will but accepted this challenge without complaint. He never once campaigned for any of his political positions. Unimaginable today.A delusional man with a gun walked up to President Garfield at a train station one day and shot him in the back. At that time the president was unguarded so as to be easily accessed by the public. Being guarded seemed to be too” royal” for Americans and they believed their president should be accessible to everyone. This was after the assassination of President Lincoln. What the hell.Doctors poked and prodded the man’s wounds in the most horrifically unsanitary ways; a germ-aphobe would have crapped themselves, twice. Garfield developed raging infections which is what ultimately killed him after 80 days of torture. During that time he never complained. He died due to medical incompetence, he would have survived if doctors had opened their minds a tad and started using Dr. Listers antisepsis practices which were widely accepted throughout Europe, but no, they denied the science. He would have lived if they did nothing; the doctors killed him as much as the assassin did.He was a great man; I wonder what would have been different if he had finished his presidency?

  • Richard Derus
    2019-02-01 14:15

    This well-written and tragic story has been revised and can now be found in a place of honor at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

  • Jennifer
    2019-01-31 12:21

    "I never meet a ragged boy in the street without feeling that I may owe him a salute, for I know not what possibilities may be buttoned up under his coat." James A. Garfield Without a doubt, "Destiny of the Republic" is one of the most interesting and thought provoking non-fiction books I've read in quite some time. Author Candice Millard does an extraordinary job of enlightening readers about the life of James A. Garfield, and the political, scientific, and medical theories and practices of the day.Garfield is one of those Presidents that many Americans (including me prior to reading this book) just don't know much about. Most probably don't even recall that he is one of the four sitting Presidents who have been assassinated. Millard introduces us to this remarkable man. Born into absolute poverty (he didn't own a pair of shoes until he was 4 years old), Garfield did have the advantage of being born into a family which gave him love, and showed him the value of education and hard work -- values he would hold through his entire life. It's history book, so there are lots of names and dates, but Millard makes the story come alive (I would say it's nearly a page-turner!) as she leads us though Garfield's life as a student, Civil War General, and politician. During the extremely contentious Republican Convention of 1880, after many days of casting ballots for the Party's Presidential candidate, Garfield would emerge as the nominee -- surprising everyone, including himself. "This honor comes to be unsought. I have never had the Presidential fever; not even for a day." (James Garfield) After only four months in office, Garfield was shot by Charles Guiteau, a mentally unstable man who had been trying to receive a political appointment from Garfield. History, medicine, and science all have an interesting, and tragic, collision here. While the gunshot wounds harmed Garfield, had proper medical procedures been followed, he almost certainly would have survived. What killed Garfield was not the gunshot, but the raging infection caused by unsanitary medical practices coupled with the arrogance and hubris of his doctor. Sadly, Garfield died from infection 2 1/2 months after he was shot. Nearly 20 years prior to Garfield's shooting, Dr. Charles Lister of England had developed a theory about germs and the necessity of sterilization in medical procedures. He would use carbolic acid to sterilize his medical tools, and was fastidious about only allowing sterilized tools to be used in surgery. He presented his research throughout Europe (where sterilization was largely adopted) and at Expos throughout the U.S. Unfortunately, most doctors and scientists in the U.S. utterly dismissed Lister's claims and thought it "ridiculous" that there were "invisible germs" in the air that humans needed to protect themselves from. Garfield's doctor, Dr. Charles Bliss, not only ignored advice about sterilization, but refused the advice of other doctors and scientists who wanted to help Garfield's recovery. Telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell even tried to aid in Garfield's recovery by inventing an "induction balance" machine to locate the missing bullet which was still lodged in Garfield's body. However, Dr. Bliss was so arrogantly stubborn he only allowed Bell to search one small part of Garfield's body for the missing bullet -- the side where Bliss was sure the bullet must be lodged. The autopsy revealed that the bullet was located on the opposite side of Garfield's body and had never damaged any organs. Garfield came to office at a time when the U.S. was still healing from the Civil War. Millard describes him as a man of integrity who truly was a unifier -- the first post-war President who had the support of the entire U.S. (even though he was a Union General and a life-long abolitionist) In his short time in office he tried to do away with the Spoils System (where political jobs were handed out as political favors) and move to a merit-based system. Personally, he had qualities which are admirable. Even as his lay dying, he remained "kind, patient, cheerful, and deeply grateful."When I read history, I can't help of think both of what has changed and what hasn't changed. It's easy to see the advances in transportation, telecommunications, and medicine. But some things stubbornly refuse to change. In 1881 Charles Guiteau, a man who was clearly mentally unhinged and who had an extensive criminal record, had unfettered access to go and buy a gun. In 2016, with few exceptions, that is still the same case. In the mid 1800s, Charles Lister brought forth theories based on scientific evidence and proof -- and was mocked. Irreparable damage was done in the process. The same thing happens today when people don't want to admit what is right in front of their eyes (climate change, anyone?) When Lister finally saw his ideas not only "vindicated, but venerated" he said "I regard all worldly distinctions as nothing in comparison with the hope that I may have been the means of reducing in some degree the sum of human misery."5 solid stars AND I look forward to reading more by Candice Millard

  • Suzy
    2019-02-19 07:37

    Wow! Who knew?! When I saw that our Minneapolis Institute of Art book club had picked this for the October book tour, I knew I would read it, but was unsure about whether I would like it. (Although the stellar reviews from my GR community were encouraging.) I did not just like it, I LOVED it. And it was so appropriate to where we are right now in the States with the election just a couple of weeks away. Millard's story of Garfield, his life and his death by assassination read like a novel. It reminded me in structure of The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America, but to me was even more interesting. That Garfield died in September of the year he was inaugurated was tragic, especially given he was shot in early July and was unable to fulfill his duties thereafter. I kept thinking how the world might be different if he had lived out his presidency. He believed in and practiced equality of the races, having fought during the Civil War and been in Congress during the passing of the 13th Amendment. Given his own impoverished background and how education had lifted him up, he believed that education was a path to success for all people. He was loved by "the people", was a great orator and, indeed, didn't even put himself forward as a candidate for president - he was nominated after many ballots at the nominating convention. He felt it his duty to be the candidate if people felt that strongly about it! These things are hard to imagine today. Another thing hard to imagine was that candidates did not typically campaign on their own behalf. Garfield spend the campaign at home with his family in Ohio, where he spoke from his front porch with hundreds of people who travelled to see him. Yes, just imagine!!We also get a glimpse into what was happening during this time period. Antisepsis was just being introduced from Europe as a way to reduce infection and death after surgery, but established East Coast doctors did not accept that there was such a thing as germs!! Alexander Graham Bell had just invented the telephone, but his mind was also abuzz with other ideas for inventions. Why we might ask were these included in the book? After Garfield was shot in the Potomac train station by a deranged office-seeker, Charles Guiteau, doctors on the spot and later at the White House probed his body with dirty fingers and instruments - OVER AND OVER - to try to find the bullet. The arrogant Dr. Willard Bliss who basically took over Garfield's care against everyone's will to promote his own career, ended up truly being the cause of Garfield's death. Bell worked to invent a metal detector to find the bullet without probing, but Bliss confined Bell's search to the wrong side of Garfield's body. He was NOT going to be proven wrong in his assumptions, proving ignorance is truly Bliss. I could go on, but I will just say "read this book!!". The story told by Millard is brought dramatically to life by Paul Michael in the audiobook. I see there are numerous footnotes (and maybe pictures?) that I missed, so on to check out the print book from the library!Update Oct 28 I just learned that PBS broadcast a documentary on Garfield in February of this year (2016) called Murder of a President. It is available until February 2019 to stream. http://www.pbs.org/video/2365653928/ It was also available from my library in DVD format. Candace Millard is one of the on-screen contributors - I'm eager to see it.

  • Mara
    2019-02-19 13:19

    Reading the Presidents: POTUS #20 – James GarfieldWhat a great way to start out my mission to get to know the presidents! Candice Millard does a great job of interweaving the stories of multiple characters (à la Erik Larson in The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America): James Garfield, Charles Guiteau (his assassin), and (to a lesser extent) Alexander Graham Bell. Toss in some history of science/medicine, some solid info on the early days of the M'Naghten rule, a few menacing politicians/villains (I was constantly picturing Roscoe Conkling tapping his fingers in an evil pyramid over in the corner), and you've got yourself an entertaining and informative read.Over the course of this book, I not only became somewhat of a Garfield fan-girl (he had me at his proof of the Pythagorean theorem), but was awestruck by the audacity and outlandishness (and reality of) delusional stalker thinking exemplified by Guiteau. To call it outlandish is not to say it was inaccurate- in fact, it was remarkable just how textbook abnormal/criminal psychology it was. But, that's not to say that I did not find it (though tragic), at times, funny to read. Essentially, Garfield gets elected which, obviously, Guiteau thinks is as a result of his having made an obscure, plagiarized speech this one time to some 20 people a few states away. Thus, obviously, Garfield owes Guiteau big time. These being the days of presidential open "office hours" (which, yes, turned out to be problematic) he, goes to the White House to let his preferences be known: [On the speech he submitted to Garfield] he had written “Paris Consulship” and drawn a line between those words and his name, “so that the President would remember what I wanted" Finally, much to his annoyance, god tells him to hell with it! he just has to remove Garfield from office, which worked out fine for Guiteau since it would make him pretty famous. Although he believed he was doing God’s work, he had been driven for so long by a desire for fame and prestige that his first thought was not how he would assassinate the president, but the attention he would receive after he did. Literally, his considerations before assassinating the president include: getting a gun that it would look sufficiently "nice" in its place of honor in the Library of Congress (he ended up going with an English Bulldog Pistol, seen below), checking out the jail to make sure its accommodations were up to snuff, getting his shoes shined for the impending press coverage, and penning a ‘You're Welcome’ note to VP Chester Arthur. Oh, and did I forget to mention the little note he sent to good ol' General Sherman requesting that he and his troops show up and rescue him from jail when they get a chance?!? Well, he did that too.Sherman, he was confident, would soon receive his letter and send out the troops to free him, and Vice President Arthur, overwhelmed with gratitude, would be eager to be of any assistance. Guiteau's delusions don't stop there, but you'll just have to enjoy that ride for yourself. Part II of Garfield's death is where we get some great nineteenth century Medicine which (shock me shock me) is also chock full of egocentric characters. If there's one major lesson learned from this book it would be this: if you're president, stay the hell away from Robert Todd Lincoln. Seriously! He was at three presidential assassinations (also he brought in this doctor who was kind of a bad choice, but I digress).

  • Ms.pegasus
    2019-02-04 07:38

    James A. Garfield, 20th President of the United States, assassinated by a disgruntled office seeker. I remember those exact words from my childhood lessons in American history, as I suspect do most other Americans. Millard makes the case for a more meaningful historical legacy. Between his inauguration on March 5 and the shooting on July 2, Garfield was an active opponent of the “spoils system”. Despite the distraction of his wife Lucretia's near fatal illness in May, he installed his own appointee as Customs House Director for the port of New York City, defying intense pressure from Roscoe Conkling, the powerful senator from New York. The appointment was significant. It established Garfield's commitment to an independent executive branch, and it blocked Conkling's access to a lucrative lever for corruption. Over 90% of all customs duties came through the port of New York City. It is surprising that Garfield became his party's Presidential nominee almost by accident. His credentials were ideal. He was literally born in a log cabin, grew up in poverty, worked as a common laborer, first on an Erie Canal barge and later as a janitor at the school he attended. He was a Civil War veteran and an experienced politician, thanks to longstanding service in the Ohio state legislature. What impresses the contemporary reader, however, were his erudition and personal integrity. He had a love for languages and the classics. He was well-read and gave his first daughter, Elizabeth, the nickname “Trot”, a reference to Betsy Trotwood in Charles Dickens' DAVID COPPERFIELD. He was an enthusiastic attendee at the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia, an event showcasing America's technological progress. He valued his agrarian roots and experimented with irrigation techniques and homemade fertilization compounds on the grounds of his home, Lawnfield. In the spring of 1876 his original proof of Pythagoras' Theorem was published in the New England Journal of Education. He was a close friend and supporter of John Wesley Powell. In 1879 he helped create the U.S. Geological Survey which Powell later headed. As for his personal beliefs, he was critical of colleagues whose judgment was clouded by political ambition.“Even Garfield, who admired Blaine and considered him a friend, believed that the senator had become 'warped' by his all-consuming quest for the White House, willing to sacrifice any cause, even his own honor, in the pursuit of this one, overriding ambition.” (Location 621) Would Garfield have remained true to his principles had he lived? Would he have been an effective voice presaging the Progressive movement led by Theodore Roosevelt in the beginning of the 20th century? Millard does not speculate on the subject. Instead, despite the many chapters she devotes to Garfield, he haunts this book as a wraith, more of a victim than a tragic figure. Millard approaches her subject in the context of a pivotal point in American history. Despite the achievements touted at the Centennial Exhibition, two of the most influential luminaries of the age were consigned to minor positions. Alexander Graham Bell's telephone was buried in an obscure corner of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts exhibition hall. Joseph Lister, who had advanced Pasteur's work with microbes by introducing a sterilization protocol for surgical procedures was dismissed by American physicians, despite the acceptance of his theories in Great Britain and Europe. One point Millard does not mention is that America was on the verge of the “Gilded Age.”Millard highlights the many contrasts between today and 1880. The President was not guarded by the Secret Service. There were no security precautions, despite Lincoln's assassination fifteen years earlier. The Secret Service's primary task was pursuing counterfeiters. The White House was virtually uninhabitable during the summer. Humidity, and poor ventilation added to the discomfort of falling plaster and worn furnishings due to inadequate funding for upkeep and repairs. Presidential candidates did not traverse the country to campaign — it was considered undignified. Most important, the President was expected to receive candidates for government appointments for large blocks of time on a daily basis. Garfield complained bitterly about this practice. Hundreds of faces filling every weekday morning, preventing him from attending to any real work.“These people would take my very brains, flesh and blood if they could,” Garfield was said to have complained to his secretary. (Location 1477) Millard structures her book with chapters alternating between Garfield and the assassin Charles Guiteau. Had Guiteau been tried today, he would certainly have been declared insane. Guiteau maintained that he was the instrument of God, following a divine calling. This grandiose sense of self-importance caused his unlamented departure from the Oneida Community in 1865. While living with his sister, he threatened her with an ax. He believed his support was instrumental in getting Garfield elected and demanded an appointment as ambassador to France. He was a daily fixture in the waiting rooms not only of Garfield but of other government officials. When he took his demands to Senator John Logan of Illinois, Logan would later recall:“I must say that I thought there was some derangement of his mental organization.” (Location 1802) After the shooting, Guiteau was convinced that General Sherman would free him from jail and Vice-President Chester Alan Arthur would, as newly elevated President, reward him. It is therefore, somewhat shocking to learn that Guiteau actually stumbled on one accurate statement during his trial. He maintained he had only shot Garfield; the doctors had actually killed him.Millard demonstrates that in fact, Garfield was a dead man the minute the doctors began to examine him, probing the bullet hole with their fingers, and prodding him later with unsterilized instruments in attempts to guess where the bullet might have gone. This is the most fascinating part of the book. A physician named D. Willard Bliss took charge of the case. After a series of procedures that amounted to torture, one can imagine Garfield was eager to embrace death. His demand to view the ocean one last time is one of the truly poignant passages in the book. The one sensible participant in the case was Alexander Graham Bell, who designed an instrument to locate the bullet. His efforts failed not because of a defect in the instrument, but because Bliss insisted Bell limit his examination to a designated area, and omitted the information that under the mattress lay a framework of metal springs. Of course, it is easy to blame Bliss for Garfield's death. It is far more productive, however, to recall the primitive state of medicine in the late 19th century, and the important contribution a patriotic inventor made to medical instrumentation. Bell's invention was based on principles that would much later lead to the invention of magnetic resonance imaging.Millard has obviously researched her subject thoroughly. However, she never captures the sense of historical immersion and focused dramatic narrative she achieved in her earlier book, RIVER OF DOUBT; Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey. Nevertheless, her book is thought provoking. Despite Guiteau's obvious insanity, his execution does not excite much sympathy in the reader. That, perhaps, is ethically troubling in an age when we pride ourselves on a sophisticated understanding of justice. Despite Chester Arthur's career as a political stooge to Conkling, Arthur rose to the occasion as President. His support for the Pendleton Act led to the establishment of the Civil Service Commission and ended the "spoils system". Consider, for a moment, where we would be today if the “spoils system” prevailed. Arthur's reinvention of himself takes on the dimensions of a fairy tale. I wonder if such a transformation is still even possible in modern day politics. For all of its flaws, I do not regret the time spent in reading this book.

  • Jim
    2019-01-26 12:24

    Excellent history, engagingly written. I give it ***** as I couldn't put it down. The story focuses on the assassination of James A. Garfield, but it became a really riveting story for me as it detailed the doctors' efforts to save the life of Garfield. I was aware that, unlike Lincoln, Garfield could have been (easily) saved by present-day medical practice. But I didn't know that he could have been saved in 1881--if the doctors had used up-to-date methods of the time. Dr. Joseph Lister in England had demonstrated the life-saving value of antisepsis to prevent infection--but most American doctors did not accept it. So it was not the lunatic Charles Guiteau who actually killed Garfield, but Dr. Willard Bliss and the other doctors who had unsterilized fingers and instruments inserted into the wound, searching for the bullet--and causing the infection of the wound which killed the president. Candice Millard makes it clear that the loss of the 20th president was a tragedy for the nation and I would add it was a very preventable one...

  • Paula Kalin
    2019-02-14 12:13

    Surprisingly very good audiobook. Who ever knew anything about this president?Highly recommend for those that like history and politics. Just terrific.5 out of 5 stars.

  • Daphne
    2019-01-31 08:17

    This book was amazing. Seriously. It will also turn your stomach and cause you to hate certain segments of the population.Garfield's death was probably one of the greatest tragedies in American History. He truly seemed liked an incredible human being, and would have been such a wonderful president. I had no idea what a genius we lost when he was murdered.Highly - HIGHLY - recommend this book.

  • Jill
    2019-01-31 08:17

    Quite a few times while reading this page-turning and well-researched book, I asked myself, “Where is James Garfield now that we really need him?”Our 20th president was both a gentleman and a scholar. After pulling himself up from an impoverished background, he quickly distinguished himself as a Civil War brigadier general, a respected Senator, a university president at only 26, and a passionate abolitionist. Much to his own amazement, he emerged the winner of the deadlocked 1880 Republican convention. His ego was so in check that he did not view this as a good thing; his belief was that Washington corrupted, and he much preferred to remain in Ohio, where he worked the fields and together with his wife Lucretia, raised four sons and a daughter.Yet the politics – which is in itself fascinating – is not the crux of Ms. Millard’s book. Garfield, as we learn from history, was the victim of an assassination contempt by Charles Guiteau, a mentally unbalanced man who thought he would be rewarded with an ambassadorship by this insane act.Had Garfield been a Civil War soldier, he would have survived quite nicely; the bullet missed his vital organs. But since he was the president, he fell under the care of the misnamed Dr. Bliss, who administered to Abraham Lincoln on his deathbed. The result was appalling. As was common in his day, Dr. Bliss did not want to go through the trouble of washing hands and instruments, nor did he believe in the benefit of antisepsis. With non-sterilized hands, he probed Garfield’s wound many times a day, stuffed him with heavy meals and alcohol, and deprived him of natural air and company. The president took this narcissist’s commands with good nature, eventually dying because of the treatment, not the bullet hole.Also interwoven in this ambitious book are the attempts of Alexander Graham Bell to determine where the bullet was located through induction balance and Joseph Lister’s dismissed urgings to use antisepsis to ward off infection. The political intrigue – two warring factions of the Republican party, not unlike today’s Tea Party and the more mainstream side and the close-minded dismissal of science is also explored and provides a window into the 1880s. “Do you think my name will have a place in human history?” the barely 50-year-old president asked during his last days. “Yes,” his friend replied, “a grand one, but a grander place in human hearts.” For every American – particularly those who are fans of Erik Larson’s works – this is indispensable reading and a rare education into a president who has fallen through the crevices in history. It’s a true step back into time.

  • Sue
    2019-02-08 12:33

    This is one of the most interesting biography/history books I've been fortunate to read. The story of the brief Presidency of James Garfield is little known though Millard's work is changing that situation. He came to the Presidency almost accidentally as the Republicans chose him without his campaigning for the position--a compromise of sorts---and a man who became a very popular choice, a man of the people.Sadly his life would intersect with a madman and with doctors (one in particular) too certain of themselves to listen to other views, and then months of agonizing suffering. I found Millard's writing so effective that I felt increasing sadness as the story progressed and the assassin approached his task. This is history. Nothing can be changed. Millard fills the book with details of the political world of the time, the latest medical developments, accepted by American doctors or not, the works of Alexander Graham Bell, attempting to assist the treatment of the President.One fault noted in my e-book borrowed from the library. There are many, many footnotes provided at the end of the text with links to the body of the text. HOWEVER, there are no corresponding links OR numbers for these notes within the text. This makes any use of the footnotes in this edition unwieldy and impractical.That fault would almost cost it a star but I can't say if that is the author's fault or a random editor for this edition. My vote would be publisher/editor/transcriber.

  • Wayne Barrett
    2019-02-20 14:30

    "His ultimate place in history will be far less exalted than that which he now holds in popular estimation," the New York Times warned its readers. More painful even than the realization that his brief presidency would be forgotten was the thought that future generations would never know the man he had been...What a tragedy! Like many of the other reviews I have read on this book I must admit that I knew little to nothing concerning Garfield other than he had been one of the 4 presidents who had been assassinated and that he had lingered for months before passing. Now I know. And now that I know, I can't understand for the life of me how this mans story is not given more attention in history. Hollywood couldn't have created a more dramatic plot than what I have just encountered in these pages. A poor man who eventually rose to the highest seat in America, Garfield appears to have been not just a great leader but an all around great human being as well.One of the most dramatic episodes covered in the book was when Garfield stood for Sherman to announce him as Ohio's nominee for President. Garfield did not even have any aspirations for the office...he only acted as the spokesman. But after his speech there came a cry from the audience for Garfield. The cry was like a spark in dry kindling...the people realized that it was Garfield, not Sherman, Blain, or Grant who was the best man, and when the dust settled, even against Garfields protest, he was given the nomination and eventually elected President of the United States.There are so many other layers of history inside that make Candice Millards novel a biography that I would recommend to all. At least now I know. James Garfield only held the office for about 6 months, half that fighting for his life, but it would seem to me that the man who I have known so little about, may well be one of the best men to have ever held the office.

  • Eric_W
    2019-02-20 13:11

    Does anyone really care about James Garfield? You will after reading this book. Were it not for the Emperor of Brazil would Alexander Bell have been relinquished to the backwater of history? And how ironic that a British Dr. Lister proclaimed knowledge that had it been followed would have saved Garfield's life?Our reading club decided to read this book for several reasons, perhaps the most important being that Charles Guiteau hailed from Freeport where most of us live. We used to joke it was Freeport's only claim to fame, home of a presidential assassin. I mean why not? I can see it now, assassination fairs, Guiteau banners, restoration of his house (it's still there,) and some nifty slogans. They could even rename the Freeport Pretzels to the Freeport Assassins. The author narrates dual tracks, following Guiteau and Garfield. They were so different: Guiteau the religious fanatic and loser, and Garfield the rather brilliant orator (albeit verbose), successful Civil War general, and abolitionist who really didn't want to be president. Guiteau bounced from one scheme to another, convinced, especially after his survival from a ship-wreck, that God had special plans for him. He tried evangelical preaching, lawyering ( in the worst sense of the word), and even joined the Oneida Community where he was shunned by most of the members. They believed in non-monogamous relationships, but the women refused to have anything to do with him, calling him by the nickname, Charles Get-Out. The recounting of the Republican Convention in 1880 is fascinating. Garfield was not even in the running; he was there to support the nomination of a fellow Ohioan. But things got out of hand after the first ballot failed to nominate a candidate and by the 35th ballot the delegates were looking for an alternative. Despite his best efforts, the convention nominated him to run with Chester Arthur as his running mate. How the assassination changed Arthur (another presidential non-entity) and his rejection of Conklin is also quite fascinating. It wasn't until the assassination of McKinley barely two decades later that focused everyone's attention on presidential security.Presidential openness and availability has changed drastically. The president remained open to the public, walking around the streets with little thought given to security, and Guiteau was able to just walk up to him and Blaine, the Secretary of State, in a train station and shoot him. Guiteau felt slighted because he was sure, in his mind, that he had been responsible for Garfield's election and was therefore deserving of a place in the administration, specifically the representative to France. When it was not forthcoming, God called him to eliminate the president. Garfield would have survived easily had he been some bum on the street who received no medical care. The bullet had missed all vital organs, but the initial doctor, ignoring all Lister's medical knowledge to the contrary, poked around in the wound with septic bare fingers and the cause of death was out of control septicemia. There was also an unseemly battle for who was to be the "doctor in charge" of the president's care. The winner, Bliss, really screwed up his care. Many soldiers more severely injured in the Civil War had survived just fine. In fact, the policeman who hauled Guiteau off to jail had a bullet still lodged in his skull. The book could have been titled, The Doctor who Killed the President.For some, the book will be a disappointment as it focuses on Alexander Graham Bell perhaps more than some would wish. Personally, I like this kind of cultural history/biography mix very much.

  • Shaun
    2019-02-07 11:24

    This was good...really good. Candice Millard does an excellent job of detailing James Garfield's rise to the Presidency, the sixth months he served (a third of that mortally wounded and fighting for his life), and his eventual death (not so much a result of the gunshot wound but the questionable treatment he was forced to endure). However, she also includes details on Alexander Bell and Joseph Lister and the history surrounding some of their inventions/discoveries as they intersect and impact Garfield's tragic tale.Again she has written a book that has made me want to read ten others.Some interesting tidbits:(view spoiler)[Garfield received the Republican nomination despite the fact that he had no intention of running and asked to be removed from the ballot after his name had been added without his consent. Apparently, the powerful nominating speech he delivered on behalf of fellow Ohioan, John Sherman, affected his constituents so deeply that someone wrote him in on the ballot.The great inventor Alexander Bell faced over 600 law suits after he introduced his invention the telephone: suits filed by those claiming he had stolen his idea for the phone from them.Joseph Lister's antiseptic technique was initially scoffed at by American Physicians who, doubting the existence of germs, refused to adopt his life saving methods.Garfield's assassin visited the White House regularly, seeking a position within the President's administration. He wrote numerous letters that bordered on delusional--even approaching the Secretary of State, James Blaine, and explaining why he should be granted the French Consulship--yet no one gave him a serious second thought.Secret Service Agents were not officially assigned to protect the President until after McKinley was shot. Prior to that the public believed the President should be accessible to all Americans. Besides, they doubted they could protect him anyway, so why try. It turns out that Garfield's injuries were not fatal. Had he received more competent medical care (even medical care available at the time), he may have lived. It is believed he died from infection resulting from unsanitary medical practices, which included sticking germ laden fingers and probes into the wound. In Garfield's case, the doctors' treatment did him more harm than good.Unlike Martha Washington who destroyed all correspondence between herself and her husband, Lucretia Garfield placed twenty-two years worth of letters into a fire-proof vault she had installed in the nation's first presidential library. (hide spoiler)]There is so much here that's worthwhile.Would recommend to history buffs who enjoy well-written non-fiction that entertains and educates.

  • Cher
    2019-01-29 08:38

    4.5 stars - Incredible. I really loved it.I am so thankful that this was selected for my local book club as otherwise I may have never learned more about the extraordinary James Garfield. How inspiring that he rose from true abject poverty to become the most powerful man in the country (albeit against his personal wishes/desires). This book has quotes throughout that give the current generation glimpses of what a great leader he was, including his strong support of equality and civil rights. How disheartening that more Americans are not familiar with the history behind this exceptional national treasure, and how truly heartbreaking that the majority of our political choices today are power hungry, insipid career politicians with no true principals or passions aside from their own personal greed. image: Even as they mourned the death of their president, Americans understood that, as time passed, Garfield would begin to fade from memory. “His ultimate place in history will be far less exalted than that which he now holds in popular estimation,” the New York Times warned its readers. More painful even than the realization that his brief presidency would be forgotten was the thought that future generations would never know the man he had been. A few years after Garfield’s death, a reporter, gazing at a formal portrait of him that hung in the White House, wrote, “I fear coming generations of visitors who pass through this grand corridor will see nothing in the stern, sad face of Garfield to remind them that here was a man who loved to play croquet and romp with his boys upon his lawn at Mentor, who read Tennyson and Longfellow at fifty with as much enthusiastic pleasure as at twenty, who walked at evening with his arm around the neck of a friend in affectionate conversation, and whose sweet, sunny, loving nature not even twenty years of political strife could warp.”Roscoe Conkling - Through the historical actions/events that involved Conkling, this book illustrates exactly what an 19th century arse looked like. Couldn't decide who I disliked more - him or Guiteau. Conkling's tendency to repeatedly spite himself in order to support his bitter and childish grudge was so pathetic that I almost felt sorry for him (but didn't). Charles Guiteau - A mastermind of delusions. Maybe I'm biased already knowing his story, but I swear he even looks crazy. image: Dr. Willard Bliss - a "strict traditionalist" (read: extremely close minded, controlling and arrogant) doctor that played a large part in the president's death despite his claims of "If I can't save him, no one can." Even when Garfield's autopsy showed clearly that the cause of death was not actually due to the gun shot but rather due to the rampant infection Garfield suffered from poor, negligent medical care, Bliss continued to insist the president died of a "broken backbone" instead of a massive blood infection. "He insisted, moreover, that the care he had given the president had been not only adequate, but exemplary." Ignorance truly is Bliss.In addition to the fascinating life of Garfield and the 3 pompous jerks above, I enjoyed learning more about Dr. Joseph Lister and Alexander Graham Bell (would love to also read a book about Bell if you have a great recommendation). I found this book to be excellent and would heartily recommend it to anyone with an interest in this historical time period.-------------------------------------------Favorite Quote: If wrinkles must be written upon our brows, let them not be written upon the heart. The spirit should not grow old. ~ James A. GarfieldFirst Sentence: Crossing the Long Island Sound in dense fog just before midnight on the night of June 11, 1880, the passengers and crew of the steamship Stonington found themselves wrapped in impenetrable blackness.

  • Jason
    2019-01-24 11:34

    This year I've decided to challenge myself. I have decided to research American Presidents that I knew nothing about. This basically covers from George Washington to Theodore Roosevelt. James Abram Garfield. Just what exactly do we know about him? We know he was a) involved in the Civil War as a Captain, b) he was chosen as a candidate in what would eventually come to be known as an extremely close nominating convention, c) he would serve less than a year in office as President and d) he is, unfortunately one of the six men elected to the office in years ending in zero that would not live to complete his full term.Since he was only in the White House a scant few months, what in reality was he able to accomplish? Apparently he believed in the fullest abolition of slavery and voting rights for all African Americans. In essence, his time as President of the United States was and is (sadly) determined by and how the way he died.Garfield ran for and assumed office in an era and a country that was riven by deep divisions amongst the body politic. Graft and patronage ran rampant amongst politicians of the day. Still at this point in history, the President ran the country from the second floor of the White House. In its day, it was commonplace to have average ordinary American citizens just walk into the Executive Mansion unannounced to have an actual audience with the President. Office seekers and patronage-minded individuals were amongst the regular melange of aspirants. For as relaxed and informal as this system was, it was also quite dangerous. This unfortunately was the method by which Charles Guiteau actually first encountered President Garfield. Guiteau originally had his heart set upon becoming the next Ambassador to France. Of course as was the precedent in Guiteau's life, things happened to change at any moment's notice. After committing the heinous act, Guiteau had said that it was God who had commanded him to assassinate Garfield after trying various unsuccessful ways to approach him.The assassination occurred as Garfield was preparing to leave from the Baltimore and Ohio train station in Washington for a relaxing vacation on the coast of New Jersey with his family. Guiteau shot Garfield once at point blank range in the chest and the bullet ended up lodging itself in a mass of muscle behind the pancreas. As its been noted by many historians, Garfield could have gone on to live a full life with the bullet inside him had he not been the recipient of Septicemia as well as various other factors brought on by the careless and unsanitary methods used to treat him by a multitude of doctors.In conclusion, this was a very interesting book on a fairly unknown President and a not that well-known incident in American Presidential History. Highly recommended.ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN 2011.

  • Lynn
    2019-02-19 14:37

    While this is the life story of President James A. Garfield, it's more a history lesson on his assassination. Garfield died 11 weeks after he was shot because of sepsis introduced by dirty doctors' fingers and instruments. The revered experts in attendance dismissed the innovative theory of sterilization to discourage an unseen tiny world of germs. There were several other historical shockers: Garfield was an abolitionist and champion of black civil rights legislation; no Secret Service protected Garfield; the gunman, Charles Guitreau, was tried and hanged (even though he was obviously insane); Alexander Graham Bell invented the metal detector in an effort to find the bullet in the President; and Chester A. Arthur, the VP and a political minion of Garfield's enemy, became a decent President and reformer in honor of the fallen Garfield. Lots to learn about this pivotal period in history in this biography. I'm glad I read it.

  • Jason
    2019-02-01 13:13

    Millard takes a deep-dive into a little known (or at least little known to me) period of American history in a way that is exciting, and while well cited, reads like a novel.I did know the basics of Garfield's short presidency, but I did not know that much about the man himself, and certainly not about the political intrigue of the time. I did not know that Garfield was a scholar, a speaker of multiple languages, a Union General, and a man that had won the nomination to be President against his own wishes. I also did not know that he was a singularly self-made man in all these regards, lifting himself out of abject poverty in the . Millard shows us the man that became the 20th President of the United States and the contexts for that ascension, which was also the largely the contexts for his would-be assassin's motivation. Millard artfully provides the history and the emotions of the time, she does not reduce the events to dates and transitions, but reminds us of the humanity behind and surrounding it all. This book covers a relatively short period, but a dramatic period for the country and many of the influential people of the time.

  • Book Concierge
    2019-02-01 11:24

    Audiobook narrated by Paul MichaelA few short months into his presidency, James A Garfield was shot at close range by a delusional office-seeker named Charles Guiteau. The two bullet wounds were serious but they didn’t kill Garfield. Rather, his physicians killed him by repeatedly introducing infectious agents into the wound. Gripping, fascinating, and informative, Millard’s novel clearly shows that she is on a par with Laura Hillenbrand (Seabiscuit) and Erik Larsen (Devil in the White City) when it comes to writing history that captures the reader with the pace of a thriller. The characters all come to life, with their strengths, and weaknesses, displayed for the reader to interpret. Millard also puts the reader right in the middle of the era – I was nearly as uncomfortable as the residents of Washington DC must have been that sweltering summer. The sights, sounds and smells of the sick room, the jails, the train station, and the streets of the city were clearly depicted. I had never paid much attention to Garfield’s presidency… it lasted only 6 months; he was inaugurated on March 4, 1881, shot on July 2, and died on Sept 19. But his short term, and the manner in which he died, resulted in several major changes – the institution of a professional Civil Service (vs the patronage system widely in place at the time of Garfield’s inauguration) and the move to adopt Joseph Lister’s antisepsis techniques among them. (Full disclosure: I work for surgeons and I could not help yelling at the CD player “Oh, My God … Wash your hands!”)I highly recommend this work. Paul Michael does a superb job narrating the audio version of this book. He has great pacing, and skill as a voice artist to differentiate the many male characters (and I loved his subtle Scottish brogue for Alexander Graham Bell).

  • Evan Leach
    2019-01-24 08:30

    James Garfield was in office for just 200 days: the second shortest presidency in U.S. history. But this relatively obscure president had the potential to be one of the all-timers until an assassin’s bullet, and the medical “care” he received as a result, ended his life. Candace Millard’s book does an impressive job of telling Garfield’s story while also exploring the larger world of late 19th century America. The book opens on the 1876 World’s Fair, where Alexander Graham Bell first unveiled the telephone to an astonished public. The focus then shifts back in time to Garfield’s upbringing and college days in Ohio. The first half of the book is mostly focused on the incredible rise of Garfield from rural poverty to Civil War hero to the White House. Garfield’s life is contrasted with that of his eventual killer, the dangerously insane Charles Guiteau. Highlights include a riveting look at the telephone’s first public trial, an examination of Garfield’s unique relationship with his wife, Lucretia, and a superb description of the 1880 Republican National Convention, where Garfield was officially nominated for president: The first half of the book was extremely impressive and flirting with five stars, but the focus shifts when Guiteau (a man with connections to Ann Arbor, Michigan!) guns down the President from Ohio*. The second half of the book deals with Garfield’s subsequent medical treatment, and could pretty much be re-titled Why it Would Suck to be Sick in the Nineteenth Century. One thing that I did not know before reading this book, and found fascinating, was that as late as 1880 many doctors did not use antisepsis measures because they didn’t think germs were real. Poor Garfield likely would have survived the assassination attempt if it weren’t for the efforts of his physicians. This depressing story was not as compelling as the first half of the book, but it was still interesting. The president’s accessibility in the late 19th century was frankly astonishing. The belief at the time was that since the president was elected by the people, anyone should be able to waltz into the White House to give him their two cents (at least during visiting hours). And even after Lincoln’s assassination, the President of the United States had no official bodyguard or anything resembling it. He just walked around like a regular Joe: the thinking was that since the president was an elected official, and didn’t inherit the office, nobody would want to harm him (never mind the millions of people who voted for the other guy, I guess). My favorite historians (David Halberstam, Barbara Tuchman, Peter Green, etc.) are able to take history and turn it into an interesting and compelling narrative – not by twisting or making up facts, but because in addition to being talented and diligent historians, they are also great writers. I would put Ms. Millard squarely in this group and I will be tackling her other book, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey, soon. 4 stars, highly recommended. *This blew my mind…for those of you not in the know Ann Arbor is the home of the University of Michigan, the greatest hive of scum and villainy you will ever find.** Michigan people are jealous of their God-fearing, hardworking, more handsome neighbors to the south in the great state of Ohio. Was it a coincidence that when it looked like Ohio was going to have a significant president, a “Michigan Man” went and killed him? I’m not saying the University of Michigan definitely murdered a sitting U.S. President, but the facts speak for themselves people. **Go Buckeyes!

  • Mary
    2019-02-08 15:25

    At first glance this book appears to be about a subject matter I would think I'd have only a passing interest in, however, I found myself unable to put it down. It is meticulously researched and reads almost like fiction, and is filled with suspense. This is not only a historical account about a somewhat obscure president's assassination, but a fascinating insight into the politics, society, state of medicine, and (lack of) sanitation in the US at that time. I was particularly engrossed with the parts chronicling Alexander Graham Bell's inventions, as well as the delusions of Guiteau.This was a great read.