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Destiny of the Republic Audiobook

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

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Publisher's Summary

James A. Garfield may have been the most extraordinary man 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.

From the Hardcover edition.

©2011 Candice Millard (P)2011 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"[Millard demonstrates] the power of expert storytelling to wonderfully animate even the simplest facts....make[s] for compulsive reading. Superb American history." (Kirkus)

"Splendidly insightful....stands securely at the crossroads of popular and professional history" (Booklist)

“Sparklingly alive…[Millard] brings to life a moment in the nation’s history when access to the president was easy, politics bitter, and medical knowledge slight. Under Millard’s pen, it’s hard to imagine its being better told.” (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Brock DONOSTIA-SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain 10-08-13
    Brock DONOSTIA-SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain 10-08-13 Member Since 2015

    So much to learn, and so little time to sit down and read. Thanks Audible.

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    "What a fun way to learn some history!"

    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".

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane Louisville, KY, United States 10-05-12
    Diane Louisville, KY, United States 10-05-12 Member Since 2010
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    "An American tragedy worthy of Shakespeare"

    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.

    Highly recommended.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Southlake, TX, United States 09-23-11
    Susan Southlake, TX, United States 09-23-11 Member Since 2008
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    "Fascinating Story"

    Very well written and performed. An engrossing story that I am thoroughly glad I purchased.

    20 of 24 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fylynne CHICAGO, IL, United States 03-13-12
    Fylynne CHICAGO, IL, United States 03-13-12 Member Since 2016
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    "Unfortunately, doctors can kill you!"
    Where does Destiny of the Republic rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Very interesting story of politics and mayhem. This book shows that powerful men show no mercy when it comes to gaining and retaining power. The section describing the convention that nominated President Garfield is fascinating. Wow! If conventions today are that interesting, maybe more Americans would pay closer attention.Sadly, after President Garfield was shot by a madman, doctors had no real knowledge of how to treat a gunshot victim. The guessing game surrounding his treatment was painful to listen to. He could have been saved if his injury had occurred a few years later. Medical advances and technology were being developed as he suffered. But it was too late to save him. It was sad because by all accounts President Garfield was a good and honorable man.


    What other book might you compare Destiny of the Republic to and why?

    The Warmth of Other Suns gives a good history lesson and it's easy to see how times have changed so dramatically.


    Have you listened to any of Paul Michael’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Doctors can kill you!


    Any additional comments?

    The parts involving Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell were fascinating. The history surrounding their inventions in light of the times was good to learn about.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim Holland, TX, United States 02-19-12
    Jim Holland, TX, United States 02-19-12 Member Since 2016

    Jumps on his bed while licking the bottom of one foot. He persists in this life affirming act despite interference from the head nurse.

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    "Entertaining Popular History"

    I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. It makes the reader aware of how extraordinary a man James Garfield was--just a historical blurr for most of us. Had he lived he may have been a president history deemed "great." This is popular history, where the author presumes to know the thoughts of historical persons, but it is obvious that Ms. Millard has done a lot of research and I did not find this a problem. She detours to tell inter-connected stories about Alexander Graham Bell, Joseph Lister, and Dr. D. Bliss (who actually killed Garfield with his medical treatment), and more, all of whom interacted with the president during his last days. Get this one. Ms. Millard writes well and her words flow seamlessly. It is excellent popular history. Paul Michael does a fine job narrating.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Byron Tallahassee, FL, United States 10-29-11
    Byron Tallahassee, FL, United States 10-29-11 Member Since 2015
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    "What a Treasure!"

    Not having been a great student of American history, I was ignorant of the story of President Garfield's election and assassination. This is a story that is both fascinating and relevant. It really consists of several sub-stories, including: 1) the story of Garfield himself, a uniquely inspirational figure; 2) the story of the battle between spoils/patronage and merit as a basis for appointing people to public office; 3) the story of the nomination of Garfield and his election as president, which is an incredible contrast to the modern self-promotion of candidates for office; 4) the story of his assassin, which though fascinating, it is unfortunate that his name has endured, as he was as bad a character as Garfield was good; 5) the story of American medicine in the 1880s, and the abhorable maltreatment received by Garfield after the shooting, 6) the story of Alexander Graham Bell, and his efforts to invent a device to discover the bullet inside Garfield's body, 7) the story of Chester Arthur, Garfield's VP, and his amazing transformation from an invisible do-nothing VP, to a man committed to carrying out Garfield's agenda after his death, and 8) the story of Roscoe Conkling, the classic Senator as power-broker, who proves that bad politicians did not originate with the current generation.

    Do yourself a favor and grab this book. There is too much here to enrich your appreciation of two of our lesser known presidents.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    meredith 10-03-11
    meredith 10-03-11 Member Since 2014

    always looking for the next fabulous audiobook. I'm so glad to have found the audible website.

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    "beautifully delivered story"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Destiny of the Republic to be better than the print version?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    What does Paul Michael bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    beautiful rendition. He delivers the words of the president just as I imagine they were thought or said


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, not for me. It was a bit of an emotional roller coaster, and much too long for that.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ty 08-02-15
    ty 08-02-15 Member Since 2016

    Seize the day

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    "Hero"
    What did you love best about Destiny of the Republic?

    I loved that the book taught me about a man, and a great man at that who served as President of the United States. It put me in a time where people were as they are today - some sought pride and position and some where just good men put into power with the desire to do what is right. I did not know much about Garfield before, but I feel like I have met him.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Pearson Idaho 09-08-14
    E. Pearson Idaho 09-08-14 Member Since 2008

    Occasional Thinker

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    "Riveting"

    The title does't do this book justice. Destiny of the Republic was an assignment for me, and I didn't really expect much. Now that I've finished, I am so grateful to have learned about this part of my American history that I previously knew next to nothing about. The author does a masterful job of intertwining current events (of the time) with the story of President Garfield and his tragic end. So astonishing for me were the stubborn and prideful ignorance which stood in the way of Garfield's survival and what looked to be a most successful presidency. Destiny of the Republic is a book for me to read, and read again.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 04-13-14
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 04-13-14 Member Since 2016

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

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    "Jamie, We hardly knew ya!"

    This book is amazing. The story of the James Garfield assassination involving the shooter, James Lister (the doctor who discovered antiseptics), Alexander Graham Bell (the inventor who raced to find a way to save Garfield's life) and the man who could have been our greatest President ever, had he lived.

    The villain in this story is not the man who shot the President, Guiteau an obviously crazy man, but the Doctor Bliss, the doctor in charge of saving Garfield's life. He was truly of the old school and did not follow Dr. Lister's methods. Sticking his dirty hands and/or sticks into Garfield to find the bullet and other methods that today seem like torture. Makes me wince just thinking about it.

    The real hero of this story was James Garfield, a self made man. His father died when he was quite young and his mother brought him up as best she could. James worked on the Erie Canal and went to a prestigious school, first working as a janitor until the professors discovered how smart he was. The next year James taught 6 classes himself to earn his tuition. He graduated early and went on to an Ivy League school and then went back to his old high school to continue teaching. When the local senator died he was asked to replace him and as he felt it was his duty he accepted. During the Civil War he ended up being a General for the Union.

    He was barely President when Guiteau shot him in a train station on July 2nd, 1881. He died Sept. 19th, 1881 and his autopsy showed the doctor in charge was looking on the wrong side of his body for the bullet. Many say now, that if they had left him alone he would have survived, since he died of the infections raging through his body. He was only 49 years old at his death.

    The narrator was great and the story reads like a novel. I will always wonder what kind of Presidency Mr. Garfield would have had, had he lived. There is also a side story about his successor, Chester A. Arthur, a man known as a corrupt politician, who through the guidance of a woman named Julia Sand (an invalid who wrote Mr. Arthur letters about how he should handle this crisis) became a President that tried to follow what President Garfield would have done, much to the anger of his cronies.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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