President James A Garfield Destiny of the Republic

I just finished reading this book. Because he didn't fill a lot of space in high school history books I have to say I never thought much about President Garfield, but have found that he was amazing man.  In July 1881 he was shot by Charles J. Guiteau after only serving as president for a short four months.

Candice Millard has written in such a way that certainly draws you in and provides a perspective of Garfield that shows the man he was. It begins with his early  life in Ohio.  His never give up attitude, his humbleness, warmth and strength. Each chapter begins with a quote from Garfield and even from those small snippets you can tell he was thoughtful and intelligent. He was the reluctant president. He wasn't even in the running and was nominated by overwhelming popular votes taking the nomination away from Ulysses S Grant.

The book reminds us of how fortunate we are with the medical care we receive and the steps that are taken  to make sure things are germ free. Imagine doctors probing a bullet wound with bare, dirty fingers, deep into the wound. Garfield probably shouldn't have died, but the medical care he received was just plain primitive.

Alexander Graham Bell began developing the xray machine trying to find the bullet that remained in Garfield. Because of Garfield's chief doctors ego he would only allow Bell to run the machine over the side of the body where "he"  believed the bullet was. The bullet was found on the other side of his body. Air conditioning was first introduced trying to keep the president cool during his last three months of life.

There are so many details to this book that are intriguing...especially when thinking it was only 130 years ago. This is a well written book and one that I would recommend reading. I will be reading Ms. Millard's other books as well.

2 reviews:

Maiden Jane said...

Interesting. Garfield's home is in my city. I think the medical aspect is fascinating. My family visited a military museum in Columbus and the early medical tools were frightening! We were imagining some of the procedures.

Waterrose said...

Jane, I'm originally from Columbus and have visited Garfields home, but it was long ago. I have also been to that military museum and was disturbed when I saw the medical instruments.... thanks for stopping by.

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