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Synopsis: 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.
A Letter from Author Candice Millard
At the heart of Destiny of the Republic is the story of the assassination of President James Garfield. What made me want to write this book, however, was not what I knew about President Garfield—that he had been shot by a deranged man in the summer of 1881—but all that I did not.
In everything I read, I am always looking for the thread of an idea, something that surprises me, and leaves me wanting to know more. To me, that’s the best part of being a writer—following an idea to see where it leads. Most of the time, after doing a little research, I quickly come to a dead end. One day four years ago, however, I found much more than I had ever expected.
While reading a biography of Alexander Graham Bell, I learned that Bell had tried to help save Garfield’s life after the President was shot. I wondered why a man as famous and powerful as Bell, who had invented the telephone just five years earlier, would abandon everything he was working on, put his life on hold, to help any man, even a President. The only way to answer that question, I realized, was to understand exactly what Bell had invented, and, more than that, to find out what kind of man Garfield had been.
After the assassination attempt, Bell devoted himself night and day to inventing something called an induction balance, a type of metal detector, to locate the bullet lodged in the President’s body. The induction balance that Bell used for the final time on Garfield is on display in the National Museum of American History, on the National Mall. What most people don’t know, however, is that the museum also has all of the versions of Bell’s induction balance, in various shapes and sizes, with hanging wires and unfinished edges, that he created while trying to perfect his invention. As I held these fragile instruments in my gloved hands, carefully examining their intricate workings, I could almost see Bell’s mind working, and his heart racing, as the President drew closer and closer to death.
Although, in the end, I would spend three years working on this book, it took only a few days of research to realize what Bell must have known—that President Garfield was not only a tragic figure, but one of the most extraordinary men ever elected President of the United States. A passionate abolitionist, Garfield was not only hailed a hero in the Civil War, but was a fierce champion of the rights of freed slaves. At the same time, he was a supremely gifted scholar who had become a university president at just 26 years of age, and, while in Congress, wrote an original proof of the Pythagorean Theorem.
With each diary entry and letter I read, each research trip I took, Garfield came more clearly and vividly to life. It was not until I visited the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C., however, that I began to understand the extent of the suffering that Garfield, and the nation with him, had endured. In its archives, in a large metal cabinet with long, deep drawers, the museum keeps the remains of two presidential assassins: John Wilkes Booth and Charles Guiteau, the man who shot Garfield. In the same cabinet, in a drawer just below Guiteau’s, lies a six-inch section of Garfield’s spine, a red pin inserted through a hole in the knobby, yellowed bone to show the path of Guiteau’s bullet. It is impossible to look at this heartbreaking collection without being struck by the fact that this story, now hardly remembered, was once a tragedy so wrenching that it transfixed and terrified an entire nation.
This book is my attempt to step back in time, to understand these men and this moment in history, and to tell a story that should never have been forgotten.
Publication Date: 2011
Book Condition: New
Book Description Book Condition: Poor. [ No Hassle 30 Day Returns ][ Ships Daily ] [ Underlining/Highlighting: NONE ] [ Writing: NONE ] [ Torn pages: YES ] [ Broken Seams: YES ] First edition. Bookseller Inventory # 5720315
Book Description Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Ex-Library Book - will contain Library Markings. Book shows minor use. Cover and Binding have minimal wear, and the pages have only minimal creases. Bookseller Inventory # G0385526261I3N10
Book Description Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Book has some visible wear on the binding, cover, pages. Bookseller Inventory # G0385526261I3N00
Book Description Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Book shows minor use. Cover and Binding have minimal wear and the pages have only minimal creases. Bookseller Inventory # G0385526261I3N00
Book Description Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. Ex-Library Book - will contain Library Markings. Book has some visible wear on the binding, cover, pages. Bookseller Inventory # G0385526261I3N10
Book Description Doubleday. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. 0385526261 Used; Book in good condition. May have markings, inscription and signs of wear. Ships fast with tracking!. Bookseller Inventory # 9780385526265
Book Description Doubleday September 2011, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: Acceptable - Used. No Jacket. No Dust Jacket. Book condition is good or better unless otherwise noted. Paperbacks, especially mass market paperbacks, will have spine creasing and may have age toned pages and curled covers. Binding will be intact, no major splits unless otherwise noted. We do our best to describe each book accurately. Any discrepancy between what is described and what is pulled will be noted in an email. If you would like a detailed description beyond what has been provided, please ask. Bookseller Inventory # 418317
Book Description Hardcover. Book Condition: Fine. 1st. Bookseller Inventory # S-122-487
Book Description Doubleday, 2011. Hardcover. Book Condition: Used: Good. Bookseller Inventory # SONG0385526261
Book Description Doubleday, 2011. Hard Cover. Book Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. some edgewear to d/j o/w contents are book are clean----madness, medicine and murder of a president Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 010726