Candice Millard’s gripping biography Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President is an astounding read. This book documents the incredible life of President James Garfield. He rose up from poverty to become a scholar, a Civil War hero, a congressman, and finally president. Millard not only explores his life and assassination, but also the medical practices that occurred during that time period; all in all creating a fascinating read covering the late nineteen hundreds.
I loved how easy this book was to get into. Millard did such a marvelous job of taking a dry subject and making it interesting. There was so much knowledge included in the book, but I never felt bored or overwhelmed with the facts. Instead, I found myself eager to get home to finish reading it. I was also intrigued with Millard’s portrayal of Garfield’s assassin. She really attempted to show his perspective and reasoning as to why he attempted to murder the president, along with his descent into mental illness. I was also astounded by the medical sanitation, or complete lack thereof, at the time and general medical practices overall. Garfield’s death was not from the bullet lodged in him, but rather from the “medical care” he received. Needless to say, we have come along ways from those days of germs and dirt. This is a great book to read this fall and already a bestseller.