Destiny of the Republic

Destiny of the Republic

A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of A President

Book - 2011
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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 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.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, c2011.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780385526265
Branch Call Number: 973.84 Mill
Characteristics: x, 339 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.


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Jul 28, 2020

I knew next to nothing about Garfield before reading this book. Seems to have been a man of remarkable intellectual power and accomplishments, who displayed principle and grace in his political career. Leaves one wondering what could have been. Author Millard artfully weaves together the stories of the many players, some household names even today, in the more than two month drama after the shooting.

Oct 21, 2019

This was my first Candice Millard book. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy it but the topic sounded good. I really liked it! Candice Millard does her research and really knows how to keep you turning the page. This story is about President Garfield who was the president who really didn't want to be president and then was only president for 6 1/2 months! But you have to read the book to find out all the details. Give this book a try I don't think you will regret it.

Jun 03, 2019

It is as if much of our own history lies beneath our gaze, waiting to be discovered. Here is a story of a man who is known for his death but not his life. James Garfield is revealed as a great man, a humanitarian, who was cursed by a wanderer of many delusions, and a doctor who greedily and disastrously dominated his care. While the first half of the book tells of Garfield's life, the second half can be described as the life of his death, for Garfield survived the assassin's bullet but not his doctor's care. Be forewarned: the author takes an unstinting look at Garfield's agonizing deterioration. Still, this is a history worth knowing.

Apr 02, 2019

Totally engrossing about Garfield the the primitive medicine of the day.

Jan 18, 2019


Dec 27, 2018

Excellent, excellent book about a period of US history relatively unknown to me. What did I know about James Garfield? Next to nothing. But this book, so well written and engrossing, makes me want to know more about him. Can't wait to read more of this author's books.

Oct 11, 2018

Due to the briefness of his time in office, James Garfield is often left off presidential ranking lists by historians. Candice Millard vividly brings him to life in this book that focuses on the assassination and his ultimate death, but also gives context to his background. The humble beginnings, Civil War service, and time in Congress are explored, and his personality, intelligence, and willingness to stand up to the boss system of politics on principle suggest that he had the makings of a good president, if not a great one. By contrast, the sheer megalomania and narcissistic character of his assassin, Charles Guiteau, is also examined, and here we have a deluded bill dodging lunatic convinced of his own glory. The strong differences between both men are capably demonstrated throughout the narrative, and the author also vividly depicts the sheer incompetence of medicine that ultimately ended Garfield's life. A thoroughly compelling book that sheds much needed light on a leader who deserves it.

May 18, 2018

Book tells of the life and death of President James A. Garfield, the political culture and medical practices of his time, key characters in politics and science as well as the delusional fellow who took Garfield’s life.

Because his time in office was so short, Garfield seems mostly below the radar when learning of presidents. He seemed a remarkable man. Medical practices unveiled were despicable. Assassin’s story almost comic relief. Author did a good job tying pieces together, but still left something lacking for me.

Dec 04, 2017

very readable examination of a little known (to me) US president, the political theatre of the day, the state of medical practice especially surgery at the time, a brief overview of legal system especially the use of the " insanity defense", the work of Alexander Graham Bell in electronics. good bibliography.

Sep 20, 2017

I highly recommend the audiobook (see my review there).

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