Having first read Candice Millard's River of Doubt, I immediately picked up a copy of Destiny of the Republic to read during a long day of airport traHaving first read Candice Millard's River of Doubt, I immediately picked up a copy of Destiny of the Republic to read during a long day of airport travel. I was not disappointed. Non-fiction generally does not do it for me, but the way Millard weaves the stories of Charles Guiteau, James Garfield, and Alexander Graham Bell together leading up to the assassination attempt and after pulls you in and doesn't let go until the bitter end. 7 hours in airports and on planes passed in the blink of an eye as I got deeper and deeper into the book.
James Garfield, who had all the potential to become the greatest president of American history died prematurely, more from the hands of his doctors than from the bullet shot into his back. But despite having ample opportunity to draw conclusions, Millard presents research and personal accounts and lets the reader draw their own conclusions about the cause and effect of the assassination and the justice of the execution of Guiteau. Just like in River of Doubt she includes the right amount of historical and political background to give the reader a feel for the political climate and the circumstances surrounding the story.
Leaving the book I felt a much greater respect for Garfield, and oft-footnoted president and Chester Arthur, best known to me as the president that was never elected to anything. I also left with the opinion that while Garfield's death was an unfortunate tragedy, it very likely was essential to saving the nation from the bitterness and anger that hung heavy in the air well after the end of the Civil War.
Really, this is an excellently written book. The shortness of the chapters really speeds up the reading, and you never feel bogged down with useless details. No tangent is without purpose, and every account and excerpt from letters and journals lends itself to further the central narration. I thoroughly enjoyed this, proving to myself once again that well-written non-fiction can be just as engaging as fiction, if not more so.
I'll start off by saying that I do not normally read biographies. Covering an entire life just seems like an overwhelming task in one book. Which is wI'll start off by saying that I do not normally read biographies. Covering an entire life just seems like an overwhelming task in one book. Which is why I absolutely loved this book. Instead of telling me everything there was to know about Theodore Roosevelt, Candice Millard chose one defining event in the ex-president's life and built the book around that. And what's more, due to everything else happening on the world stage at the same time, I had never heard of this expedition to the Amazon. Effortlessly weaving excerpts from journal entries, previous events in Roosevelt's life, historical information, and even geological information, Millard manages to accomplish everything I love in a good story. I was extremely entertained, but also left knowing a lot more than I had going into the book.
Every departure from the central story served to reinforce it, to build the tension, and to paint in my mind the picture of a small crew of Americans and Brazilians facing down death as they explored an unexplored corner of the earth. I became so emotionally involved in the expedition that I had to remind myself to breath every time disaster struck. And in the final paragraphs when she includes Cherrie's brief tribute to Roosevelt I had to remind myself that there was absolutely no good reason for me to be tearing up. It's a powerful story about facing adversity, overcoming immense odds, and the type of mettle and character necessary to earn the love and respect of everyone you come in contact with. And what was accomplished, even weighed against the immense sacrifices made, was nothing short of miraculous.
Excellent story, expertly written, and exceptionally enjoyable....more
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I found the style of writing engaging, and the format of a collection of stories worked well, especially groupI thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I found the style of writing engaging, and the format of a collection of stories worked well, especially grouping them into chapters according to what point in the outbreak the stories fall. It's not a pick up and read all the way through type of book. Right from the get-go you know the ending, so it's really about reading each story. The division made it easy to put down, and the content and style also made it easy to pick back up again....more
A collection of marvelously well written and well expressed thoughts on the vital importance of true imagination in Theatre. It inspires you as an artA collection of marvelously well written and well expressed thoughts on the vital importance of true imagination in Theatre. It inspires you as an artist to continue to strive for ever greater heights while fighting to catch the same vision that Bobby had of theatrical potential....more