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Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President

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Paul Michael

9 Hours 48 Minutes

Random House (Audio)

September 2011

Audio Book Summary

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.

Total Run Time: 10 hours.

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  • yellowsubgirl

    very interesting book, if you like history and stories about people you will appreciate this one, nobleness, madness, genius and murder; you couldn't make this stuff up.

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  • Kacy W

    This book was selected for a book club and very much outside of what I would normally read. The narrator did an excellent job telling the story of James Garfield. The book was well written and full of interesting facts about not only Garfield but his assassin Charles Guiteau, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, and others.

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  • James Brown

    I was equally impressed with both the incredible book and the narration. I did not know anything about James Garfield but what a man. The description of the time, the people and the character of a nation was really fascinating and I would recommend this to anyone interested in U.S. History and a good story teller.

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  • Sam Pointer

    Like the story of the Titanic I knew the ending before I began to book. I thought the author did a good job of making you feel like you were there at the time and like everyone else was following the news reports hoping beyond hope of a different outcome than you knew was historically possible

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  • lbrace

    I was fascinated about the life of President Garfield. I never knew much about him and to hear how politics and innovation met was very interesting. It's too bad they didn't have body guards for presidents after Lincoln's assassination.

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  • Casual listener

    I am not necessarily a history buff, but I stumbled on this! So glad I did! This audiobook was fantastic! I did not know anything about President Garfield (and wasn't sure I was missing much), but I found the story fascinating. I didn't know anything about the connection between Garfield and Alexander Graham Bell, so this was a bonus. The narration was also very well done. The book was easy to follow. I listened to it without taking a break. I wish all history audiobooks were this interesting!

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  • KLG

    This book was great! I knew so little about the assassination of President Garfield, and the author really put it all into context. This book also did a great job of describing the state of medical care in the 1880's (which actually killed Garfield - not the bullet itself). Finally, I have a deeper appreciation of the genius of Alexander Graham Bell.

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  • Anonymous

    One of those little known periods of American history and the story of an unwilling candidate who became President. He had a great vision and sadly was shot down by a nut case, whose own story as told in the book is interesting. The story also includes the story of spineless vice president who grew one upon his becoming president. Thrilling story and is very well written

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