Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Say It's Not True!

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

Summary: 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 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.

Review: An incredibly emotional tale of James A. Garfield, his assassination, and his assassin. 

Garfield has the dubious honor of being the second president ever assassinated. I've been wanting this book for a while now and I'm glad to see that it didn't disappoint. I knew very little about Garfield except that he had been assassinated and died due to poor medical care. This book really brings the main characters in the tale to life. 

Garfield's assassination and death were so tragic and terrible and what's worse, could have been readily available had proper medical care been taken. It really was such a different time back then. I can't imagine a president not having a secret service to protect him nor having people being unaware of germs and when being told about germs, don't believe they exist. Doctors not washing their hands or their instruments. 

I felt like I really got to know Garfield and started to really care about what happened to him. I knew what was going to happen, but I kept hoping beyond hope that Garfield wouldn't get shot, that everything would be ok. Should Guiteau have been killed? Yes, he killed the president, but he seemed very delusional and might not have been in full command of his mental facilities. 


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to anyone interested in presidential history, medical history, or American history. 

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