Destiny of the Republic Audiobook Summary
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.
The book went on to win the following awards:
Edgar Award for Best Fact Crime (2012)
Andrew Carnegie Medal Nominee for Nonfiction (2012)
PEN Center USA award for Research Nonfiction
One Book – One Lincoln Award
Destiny of the Republic Audiobook Reviews
I love to be blown away by a book!! I love that rare ocassion when you randomly pick up a book and hope it will at least hold your interest just until something else comes along, to listen half-heartedly, then–be drawn in thoroughly, completely–to the point where you forget everything around you and become so engrossed in the story that the house could be burning down around you and you wouldn’t notice till your toes got hot!
In the case of Destiny of the Republic, it isn’t the history of 20th president James Garfield alone that catapults this book into the category of toe-toasting “amazing”…it is the meticulous research and straightforward writing of former National Geographic writer and editor, Candice Millard–a truly great historian/author (and we could probably add detective). A book about Garfield would never have been tops on my Wish List, but I’d read Millard’s first book, River of Doubt, (about Theodore Roosevelt’s trip on the Amazon) and found it fascinating. Based on that read, I figured I had a winner. Now I have to say, Destiny of the Republic is even better, and I have a new picture of Garfield and wonder what might have been.
The book establishes the dignified character of Garfield, the high esteem the people had for him, his erudition, and his humanity. It goes into detail about the schizo plottings of the crazed assassin, Guiteau (and some fascinating history of the “insanity plea”). But, it focuses largely on the 79 day period while Garfield, Guiteau’s led bullet lodged somewhere deep in his back, suffered at the hands of the woefully arrogant Dr. D. Willard Bliss, and the dedicated Alexander Graham Bell’s fervent race against time to perfect his “induction balance machine” in hopes of locating the bullet and saving Garfield from Dr. Bliss, and therefore, Garfield’s life. The details of the dreadful and ridiculously archaic treatments Garfield suffered through at the hands of the ignorant Bliss, and the account of the autopsy, are painful to read about and shed light on the great progress medicine has made. At his trial for the murder of Garfield, Guiteau nonchalantly admitted to shooting Garfield, but insisted that he did not kill Garfield, rather it was “malpractice killed Garfield.”
A slower first half, but you’ll be rewarded with a mesmerizing tale, some fascinating medical history and facts, all wonderfully narrated by Paul Michael. *If Candice Millard wrote the history books for school–the students would never miss a day. Fantastic read I highly recommend to history buffs and non-history buffs alike.
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Millard’s book received positive reviews upon publishing by organizations such as The New York Times, The Washington Times, and The Seattle Times.
Del Quentin Wilber of The Washington Post said of the book, “Millard has crafted a fresh narrative that plumbs some of the most dramatic days in U.S. presidential history.”
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