This little remembered episode from American history is thoroughly American in character but also fully worthy of a Shakespearian tragedy.
From Garfield, an Ohio farm boy who grew up to be a well educated man of deep and noble convictions, to his assassin, Charles Guiteau, a deluded political and religious fanatic, the figures seem larger than life. Then there are the "supporting" characters--Garfield's vice-president, Chester A. Arthur, a man transformed by Garfield's assassination: the political boss, Roscoe Conklin; Garfield's arrogant doctor, Dr. Doctor Bliss; and even Alexander Graham Bell, who struggled over an invention which might help save Garfield's life.
I was moved by this book and the story it tells holds much relevance for today's world in terms of the pitfalls of political factionalism and the dangers of religious fanaticism. Indeed, it seems shameful that the "Garfield" with which most people are familiar is a cartoon cat.
I learned a great deal about a president I knew almost nothing about. Well written story and excellently narrated. This is one I'll listen to again.
always looking for the next fabulous audiobook. I'm so glad to have found the audible website.
havent read the book, but the way the book was spoken and delivered by the narrator
really enhanced my appreciation. I loved his accent, and his delivery.
the way it draws out the character of many people. It reflects upon their attainments,
without loosing sight of their soul and spirit as well. I developed a huge fondness for this
president, his inherant decency and ideals, and wished that his fate had not collided so tragically with the figure of Giteau, because it seemed that he could have done much good.
Also, the way his assasain was drawn was interesting. The workings of a man's delusional mind are clearly examined and laid out. Like his victim, he was a person who felt impelled to make a contribution to society, but lacked the necessary talent and insight to do so.
beautiful rendition. He delivers the words of the president just as I imagine they were thought or said
No, not for me. It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster, and much too long for that.
In Australia, after a person of similar calibre as Giteau killed about 30 people in one session they banned the sale of guns, with some exceptions, and made them much less accessible to people in general.
I am glad about that. There are some things that are much too lethal to be easily available.
I read a lot of reviews prior to selecting a book. I value my time too much to spend it reading a lemon. I hope my reviews will be helpful as you look for your next book
I love finding books about history that are really well written, and tell an intriguing story. This was definitely one of those books. The author did an amazing job of researching this story to find all the little details that made this book so interesting. When I bought it I expected it to be a history of James Garfield's life, but it told a lot more than just about his life. I really enjoyed learning about the crazy life and delusions of Garfield's eventual assassin. The guy was nuts, and yet I don't believe he was insane. Elements of his life reminded me of people I know today - scary!.
The other minor story within the bigger story was about the doctor who attended Garfield after he was shot. He used extreme confidence, and a bold personality to become the primary doctor to Garfield without ever being assigned the role. He just pushed his way into the action immediately following the assassination, acted like he was in charge, and then pushed all the other doctors away; all without ever being given permission to do so.
There were so many fascinating elements to this story that almost anyone would enjoy listening to it, but if you love history and want to learn about it, this book is a must "read".
Ardent Audible listener with a long commute!
High school teachers around the country, desperate for a lively philosophical and ethical debate to waken a sleepy history class at the end of the fall semester, often throw out the question, "If you could go back in time and change one thing, what would it be?" I've had years to think about that particular question, and after listening to Candice Millard's "Destiny of a Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President" (2011), I know what my answer would be: I would send President James A. Garfield's doctor, Dr. Doctor Willard Bliss, on a year long trip to Europe starting the month before Garfield was shot by Charles J. Guiteau. I would leave the more famous incidents (like the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, 1865) to more showy time travelers.
Guiteau, a former member of the Oneida cult and then an itinerant preacher, firmly believed he was THE guiding force in American electoral politics. Guiteau did not have a modern diagnosis - but his stalking and delusions are very reminiscent of attempted President Ronald Reagan assassin John Hickley, Jr., who was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Hinckley's 1982 diagnosis was Schizotypal Personality, narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and depression. Guiteau, like Hinckley, was trying to get someone else's attention by assassinating the president. Unlike Hinckley, Guiteau was put to death. In 1881, the nation knew Guiteau was legally insane, but it took its vengeance in blood.
Guiteau fired the shot, but Doctor Bliss killed Garfield. Yes, Bliss' first name was Doctor. Bliss introduced, and repeatedly introduced, the sepsis that killed Garfield. Bliss' arrogant refusal to use the techniques of Joseph Lister, who pioneered sterilization in operations; and his refusal to fully accept the help of Alexander Graham Bell, who developed a way of finding the bullet in Garfield's body after Guiteau shot Garfield, and long before Garfield's death. Bliss refused the help of other far more qualified doctors, and hid Garfield's true condition from the world to cover his own incompetence.
Wonderful book, but the audio - lets just say that Paul Michael did mostly fine, but the narration the voices of young girls - like Molly Garfield - really needs work.
[If this review helped, please press YES. Thanks!]
So much more interesting that I expected. No one learns about Garfield in school, yet he was such an amazing man. One wonders how American history would be different, had he lived. Lots of tidbits about Garfield, Alexander Graham Bell, post Civil War medicine and more. Well narrated.
This is why I love audiobooks. This is so much better than a movie based on a great book. Now I'm off to read the author's other Audible book
Fantasy and Romance Author
An engrossing historical account, beautifully-narrated. All of the personages are memorably depicted, and Millard does a wonderful job of re-creating a lost era of American culture and politics. By turns amusing and tragic, I'm so glad I used a credit for this book!
Me, myself, and I.
There is nothing that I can write that would do this story justice. An amazing work, amazing experience, expertly narrated, and worth every moment I stole away from whatever responsibilities I had. I have a newfound respect for James A. Garfield, and a newfound fascination with the late 19th century. Who knew it was filled with such drama? Well...many people, I am sure, but experiencing it through the lens of medicine, invention, politics, and insanity in the 1880s brings a whole new appreciation.