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Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a Presidentby Candice Millard
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"One of the many pleasures of Candice Millard's new book, Destiny of the Republic, [is] that she brings poor Garfield to life — and a remarkable life it was....Fascinating....Outstanding....Millard has written us a penetrating human tragedy." The New York Times Book Review
"A spirited tale that intertwines murder, politics and medical mystery, Candice Millard leaves us feeling that Garfield's assassination deprived the nation not only of a remarkably humble and intellectually gifted man but one who perhaps bore the seeds of greatness...splendidly drawn portraits....Alexander Graham Bell makes a bravura appearance." The Wall Street Journal
"Fascinating....Gripping....Stunning...has a much bigger scope than the events surrounding Garfield's slow, lingering death. It is the haunting tale of how a man who never meant to seek the presidency found himself swept into the White House....Ms. Millard shows the Garfield legacy to be much more important than most of her readers knew it to be." The New York Times
"Crisp, concise and revealing history....Millard has crafted a fresh narrative that plumbs some of the most dramatic days in U.S. presidential history." The Washington Post
"[Millard demonstrates] the power of expert storytelling to wonderfully animate even the simplest facts...make[s] for compulsive reading. Superb American history." Kirkus, starred review
"Splendidly insightful...stands securely at the crossroads of popular and professional history." Booklist, starred review
"In this brilliant and riveting work, Candice Millard demonstrates the power of narrative nonfiction. Through exhaustive research and flawless storytelling, she has brought to life one of the most harrowing and fascinating sagas in American history — a saga filled with political intrigue, a mad assassin, and a frantic scientific struggle to save the life of a noble president. This is a book that is impossible to put down." David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z
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.
For a man forced into the presidency, the legacy of James Garfield extended far beyond his lifetime, and Destiny of the Republic revisits his meteoric rise within the military and government with meticulous research and intimate focus. Garfield was a passionate advocate of freed slaves, a reformer at odds with Republican power brokers and machine politics, a devoted father, and a spellbinding speech-giver. Four months after taking office he was shot twice by an unhinged office-seeker, Charles Guiteau, and a nation already recently fractured by war shattered, leaving the wounded president at the center of a bitter, behind-the-scenes struggle for power. Examining the medical reform spurred by Garfield's unsanitary medical treatment, and reflecting on the surprising political reform brought on by his former political enemy Senator Roscoe Conkling, Destiny of the Republic passionately brings President Garfield's unknown-but-widely-felt legacy into focus.
About the Author
Candice Millard, the New York Times-bestselling author of The River of Doubt, is a former editor and contributing writer at National Geographic magazine. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and children.
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