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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 Image from Penguin Random House Speakers BureauCandice Millard, the author of The River of Doubt Theodore Roosevelt s Darkest Journey, here follows the paths of two men, the ill fated presi 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 Image from Penguin Random House Speakers BureauCandice Millard, the 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 perhapsimportantly, 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 contrastgraphically, 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 EXTRA STUFFLinks to the author s personal, Twitter and FB pagesFor another consideration of this book, you could do worse than to check out Jeffrey Keeten s excellent review (((READ BOOK))) ↜ Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President ⇨ 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 hap pened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in tur moil 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 con dition 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 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 Preside 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 wasafraid 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 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 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.Further, 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 andor 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 When President James Garfield walked in, Charles Guiteau was standing right behind him This, Guiteau realized, was his chance to kill the president, and this time he was not about to let it slip away Without a moment s hesitation, he raised the revolver he had been carrying with him for nearly a month and pointed it at Garfield s back So complete was his composure that he might have been standing at the edge of the Potomac aiming at a sapling, instead of in a crowded train station about When President James Garfield walked in, Charles Guiteau was standing right behind him This, Guiteau realized, was his chance to kill the president, and this time he was not about to let it slip away Without a moment s hesitation, he raised the revolver he had been carrying with him for nearly a month and pointed it at Garfield s back So complete was his composure that he might have been standing at the edge of the Potomac aiming at a sapling, instead of in a crowded train station about to shoot the president of the United States Candice Millard, Destiny of the Republic A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President 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 Balti 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 aiming for a broad audience and she 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 altogethertelling 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 biton 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 wantingAt the same time, it leaves you wantingI wantedamplification 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 givenspace 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 giventhan 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 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 booThere 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 calledintellectual dissipationHowever, 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 ofdivine inspiration , and rid the Americans of this president who he claimed was adanger to his party and his countryWhat occurs next is a shocking account of the harmful medical practices that ultimately weredangerous 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 Although I am a history buff, I imagine that Destiny of the Republic would be a page turner for any reasonable reader When nonfiction is well done it is nigh on unbeatable and this text easily fits that bill I had never heard of its author, Candice Millard, before but I will pick up her other book based solely on how much I enjoyed this one The subject matter of her previous book, The River of Doubt does not sound all that interesting to me, but in her capable hands I am sure I will enjoy Although I am a history buff, I imagine that Destiny of the Republic would be a page turner for any reasonable reader When nonfiction is well done it is nigh on unbeatable and this text easily fits that bill I had never heard of its author, Candice Millard, before but I will pick up her other book based solely on how much I enjoyed this one The subject matter of her previous book, The River of Doubt does not sound all that interesting to me, but in her capable hands I am sure I will enjoy it What a testament to her skills as a writer and historian.I knew the basics about President James Garfield, and a little about his assassin, however, Millard s in depth characterization of Garfield makes me sad for two reasons One, it seems apparent that America missed out on a possible great presidency due to one s man s mental illness, and second, where are the leaders like James Garfield today An especially effective device in the text was starting each chapter with a quote from something Garfield said or wrote It gives you hints at what a great man he must have been When you read a book whose ending you know, and still have an emotional response to it then you know the author has done something extraordinary That was certainly the case with Destiny of the Republic.The real magic of this text is how seamlessly Millard weaves the tale of President Garfield with the events of the times, the mental illness of his eventual assassin Charles Guiteau the genius of Alexander Graham Bell, and the arrogance of the medical establishment, especially in her depiction of the physician chiefly responsible for Garfield s medical care after he was shot, Dr D Willard Bliss If history has a villain for Garfield s death, his assassin is followed closely by the medical team that cared for Garfield, and their supreme ignorance and arrogance Destiny of the Republic is important history that is very well rendered Its style reminded me a lot of books by the pop historian and writer Erik Larson That is a good thing I for one cannot wait to readby this talented writer Learning something and being entertained is a lovely combination 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 thing 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 beencareful 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 theMillard 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 littlethan 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 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.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 theRiver This r 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.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 theRiver This river trip almost did Teddy in He suffered greatly in the mix of it and in the subsequent aftermath.In regard to GarfieldA 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 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 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 ofenlightened 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 aobjective historian than my favored authors, but my pleasure meter is movedby writers who take a clear stand and go out on a limb in their judgments