Before this book, I knew virtually nothing about President Garfield. He is a compelling individual with a great life story and exemplary character. In our time he is particularly attractive for having ascended to the presidency without ever campaigning for the office or even feeling the "presidential fever." Thus, learning about the man was tremendously interesting. The extraordinary incompetence of his treating physicians, the bitter political infighting over the spoils system, and the growth of Chester Arthur were also interesting. I felt that Alexander Graham Bell's role in the story was overdrawn, however, given the lack of impact that he had on the outcome of Garfield's shooting.
Unfortunately, the writing did not fully rise to the level of the subject matter. In particular, I found the author's persistent habit of inserting partial quotes from various sources into her sentences to be distracting, even annoying. The problem was exacerbated by the narrator's decision to use different voices for these quotes, which were often only several words in a single sentence. Switching back and forth from the narration to a Scottish accent for Alexander Graham Bell or a soft high pitched voice for the assassin Charles Guiteau got to be very off-putting.
When Michael was simply narrating, his voice was deep, relaxed and very pleasant. Unfortunately, he apparently felt compelled to adopt other voices when that was not necessary, especially for a historical text.
While I understand how Alexander Graham Bell influenced the outcome of Garfield's medical care, the chapters-long digressions and long-winded technical details of Bell and his inventions are distracting and unnecessary. It's almost as though there wasn't enough material on Garfield, so his story has to be enhanced through association with Bell.
And then, one of the most dramatic, history-changing and defining moments in Garfield's life - his shocking nomination as the Republican candidate for Presidency - seems to enjoy relatively poor development in the book. I still don't feel like I have a grasp for why the convention chose Garfield for their nominee.
That said, the meticulous details about Guiteau's (Garfield's assassin) life and motivations are fascinating and entirely relevant to Garfield's story. Also, the development and detail around Garfield's final months - especially the evocation of the nation awaiting the fate of their beloved leader - are clearly well-researched and compellingly rendered.
Author should have written a biography on Alexander Graham Bell and moved some of this content there. Fill the void with more development on details, specifically the compelling forces at work in his Republican nomination.
All well done. Lucretia (Garfield's wife) was probably my fave. Her lilting shyness, almost a whisper, really comes out in the delivery.
I am already trying to get through as many POTUS biographies as I can, and although this was a bit of a
I knew parts of the history involved, but this filled in with wonderful details. I learned alot.
James Garfield was such a nice person. I am glad I learned his story.
The narrative was expertly and entertainingly laid out. It was compelling and thorough. The parallel stories that had a profound effect on the outcome was excellent and linear. Not just a fact based recounting. Garfield is usually quickly discussed in history classes and books, but this book makes you wish he could have been President longer.
Definitely in my Top Five books for 2011!
Who knew that there were so many interesting facets involved in the assasignation of Garfield? Many thanks to Millard for making hidden history usually passed over so vitally interesting and engaging. Great research and storytelling and a good narrator made this a very enjoyable book.
I am thankful for learning a lot while enjoying the story.
Garfield was a great orator and among other things an ally to recently freed slaves. This book was a great glimpse into history. It was eye opening to read about the state of the medical profession during this time, see inside the mind of a truly insane person and see how this presidents assasination brought about a few inventions.
Online Grad Student, I prefer audiobooks to bound books. Preferences: history, disasters, Preston/Child, Lee Child
Great, well narrated, lyrical audiobook on little-known President Garfield, his killer, and especially the state of wound management, crony politicians, and the beginning of the security detail for presidents. Twenty years after Lincoln's assassination, Garfield was never afforded, nor requested, a security detail. Amazingly, it took him nearly three months to die thanks to poor medical care. Even Alexander Bell's early Xray invention is brought to bear. I had no idea of any of Garfield's accomplishments, or that he was one of the few early abolitionists fighting against the Southern Democrats for black suffrage. Great book, perfect length. Only drawback: Bell's Scottish brogue is off, and female voices are falsettoed.
Incredible detail in this novel. I was amazed at all the familiar names involved with this tragedy.
This is an outstanding book about the life and assination of President Garfield. The narrator is also very good. You will not be disappointed with this audiobook!
I will NEVER buy another audible book narrated by Paul Michael. I'm not sure how many elementary children Michael believes he is performing for, but as an adult, the corny accents and changes in voice for characters only distract from the story. The story is interesting, and could be engrossing if not for the fingernail on a chalkboard voices Michael comes up with. I wanted to skip by any section with Alexander G. Bell. The absolute worst was the ridiculous voice used for Bell's wife.
Recently I have thoroughly enjoyed books narrated by their authors, and after this disgrace and even more confident that is the way to go.
Too bad - the story could have been fascinating.