The Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Medicine, Madness & the Murder of a President by Candice Millard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Imagine a man who does not desire it, not only receiving the nomination of his party, but being elected to the position of President of the United States without having given even one speech or spending one day on the campaign trail. Such was the case in 1880 when James Garfield of Ohio was elected.
Tragically, the lasting mark of his presidency was stolen from us after only 4 months by a deranged man, Charles Guiteau, who said that God wanted him to kill the President.
Were it not for the doctors who used unsanitary and old-fashioned methods of care, he would, no doubt have survived his attack. Joseph Lister, who in England was gaining great success with his methods of antisepsis, and who tried to convince the American medical community of the fact of "invisible germs", was most sadly ignored.
Alexander Graham Bell also figures into this period of history with his invention of a device intended to discover the site of a bullet in the body.
I was amazed to learn that Garfield was a general in the Civil War, afterword elected to Congress and was a dedicated opponent to slavery. He was a devoted family man who had come from poverty and lived his life with great joy.
Oh, to have a Garfield among us today. This book is an amazing account of a time in history that has not been widely taught and I highly recommend it.
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