I just finished reading Destiny of a Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard.
“The extraordinary New York Times bestselling account of James Garfield’s rise from poverty to the American presidency, and the dramatic history of his assassination and legacy, from bestselling author of The River of Doubt, Candice Millard. James Abram 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, a renowned congressman, and a reluctant presidential candidate who took on the nation’s corrupt political establishment. But four months after Garfield’s inauguration in 1881, he was shot in the back by a deranged office-seeker named Charles Guiteau. Garfield survived the attack, but become the object of bitter, behind-the-scenes struggles for power—over his administration, over the nation’s future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. Meticulously researched, epic in scope, and pulsating with an intimate human focus and high-velocity narrative drive, The Destiny of the Republic brings alive a forgotten chapter of U.S. history.”
From the author:
“While reading a biography of Alexander Graham Bell, I learned that Bell had tried to help save Garfield’s life after the President was shot. I wondered why a man as famous and powerful as Bell, who had invented the telephone just five years earlier, would abandon everything he was working on, put his life on hold, to help any man, even a President . . . it took only a few days of research to realize what Bell must have known—that President Garfield was not only a tragic figure, but one of the most extraordinary men ever elected President of the United States.”
I loved this book. Before reading this, I couldn’t have told you anything about President Garfield except for his assassination. Who knew he was such an interesting guy living in such a tumultuous time? I thought this book had the perfect balance of fact and narrative. I loved the mixing of Garfield’s story with some of the other major players in his life and of the time.