Play Book Tag discussion

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
This topic is about Destiny of the Republic
12 views
Archive: Other Books > Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard -- 4 stars

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7758 comments Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard
4 stars

This book has been on my TBR for quite some time and my very thoughtful boss purchased it for me to help occupy my free time during quarantine! It took me a bit to get to it, but after a string of romcoms and lighthearted books I felt like I was ready for something more serious.

Before reading this book, if you would have asked me to give you one fact about President Garfield, I would have drawn a total blank. I don't know if I would have even known that he was assassinated. But this relatively slim (for a history book) account of Garfield nomination as a Republican candidate in the 1880 election, his brief tenure as president, his assassination, and the 79 painful days from shooting to death is gripping. At least I found it to be.

Garfield seems like he was a genuinely likable guy! It seems like he was nice and inspired people to be better human beings. He treated others with kindness but when push came to shove he had a spine of steel. Oh, he did cheat on his wife, a trend that I have recently become more aware of.

His assassin, Charles Guiteau, was genuinely insane. While he did not get an actual medical diagnosis or treatment he needed, but he certainly seemed to be paranoid delusional at best. The author depicted his truly bizarre thoughts in a way that was neither sympathetic or condemning, but I couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for this guy and society's complete lack of support for his mental health issues.

And, Guiteau would have probably not been an assassin at all if it weren't for the truly inept medical care that Garfield received. A better lawyer who actually cared about justice for Guiteau could have argued that Garfield care was so egregious that Guiteau was not actually the cause of death! Garfield would have lived if everyone would have literally left him alone. That is a sad statement on 19th century "medicine."

But, the icing on the cake for me was a bit of Alexander Graham Bell's life being interwoven into the story. The author talks a bit about the telephone, but really focuses on Bell's rush to create a machine that could scan the inside of the body to detect where the bullet was lodged. Bell is fascinating and I need to find a good biography on him.

Ultimately, I am very glad I finally picked up this book and I definitely recommend it to people who want to read a little history but don't want a thousand page tomb that details a president's life from birth to death. This provides a nice snapshot.


Joanne (joabroda1) | 7460 comments Glad you liked it Nicole-it was one of my favorites from last year and the parts on Bell fascinated me too.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5794 comments I also really liked this. Glad to see another fan.


Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7758 comments Have either of you read her other book, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey? I am thinking I may get to that one eventually as well.


Joanne (joabroda1) | 7460 comments Nicole R wrote: "Have either of you read her other book, The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey? I am thinking I may get to that one eventually as well."

Yes I read it Nicole-I read this one first, then searched for other books by her here is my review https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

4 stars- and I have her bookHero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill and my short list when the library re-opens


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5794 comments I listened to the audio of Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill on one of my long drives to/from Texas. 4****

Haven't done The River of Doubt yet, but it's on my TBR.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5794 comments Oh and re Bell ... the audio book is masterfully performed by Paul Michael and I loved his subtle Scottish brogue for Alexander Graham Bell!


back to top