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Showing 21-30 of 1,347 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,787 reviews
on October 22, 2016
This was such a rewarding read. Millard's writing takes you back into an earlier time in our nation's history. For 354 pages (Kindle) it was so complete in the facts, opinions, physical and emotional environments of that era. So much so that it's challenging to believe you didn't just finish a 700 page history book. However, it is written with such deep description and in a manner that moves as smoothly and with the anticipation of the next page as a great novel. I am so pleased that the genius of Millard can write such an intriguing account in such a non-academic style. This was the first book I've read of hers and I am already eager to visit her previous offerings. I read a lot of books and write so few reviews, so bravo to Millard's writing for compelling me to praise her work!
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on February 2, 2014
This is a gem. Destiny of the Republic is a narrowly focused, yet illuminating and informative biography on the tragically short life of James Garfield, the 20th United States President.

Garfield is an easy man to like. He grew up in desperate poverty and yet pulled himself and his family out through both physical will power and the use of his prodigious brains and curiosity. His is full of sincere chivalry. He was a war hero and a dedicated fighter for freed slaves rights for 20 years in the Congress. He spoke multiple languages. He could recite passages of book anytime and at almost any length. He was dedicated to his wife, children, church and the advancement of science. He wrote and spoke eloquently. Each chapter starts with a Garfield quote that's well worth reading even today.

It almost seems inevitable that this would lead the Presidency.

Sadly he was shot by Charles Guiteau in July 1881 and died in September of that same year; barely 6 months after entering office.

What Candice Millard creates around this narrative is nothing less than a robust picture of a rapidly industrializing and advancing world where breakthroughs of all sorts in transportation, communication and health and sciences that would lead to significant leap in the quality of life for everyone. The irony was the slow adoption of such advances and the resistance particularly from Garfield's Doctor Bliss that harmed his own chances at survival.

Juxtaposing Garfield with all his humility and accomplishment are both the brutal politics of the time (the Stalwarts) and his assassin Guiteau who lives in a world of self deceit and denial where his failures are viewed as the height of success to him to the extent that he expect an appointment to the embassies in either Vienna or Paris. Millard's descriptions and accounts of Guiteau are illuminating and quite interesting.

There is much to recommend the book. It's fast paced. Touches upon many interesting people and topics. There are many learning lessons and reminders of how little things change. Ultimately Garfield's legacy may be that of a martyr where good things happened as a result. Chester Arthur carried through on major political reforms rejecting his own supporters. Joseph Lister's methods to avoid infections were accepted much more widely saving millions of lives. And on and on.

And as Millard points out Garfield in death did more to unify the country after the Civil War than any other single event. He was viewed as America's first national President in perhaps a hundred years. And that's no small accomplishment.
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on May 4, 2016
I'll admit, I know very little about James Garfield or the circumstances of his assassination; what I do know I learned from Sarah Vowell's "Assassination Vacation". I bought this book because I enjoyed Millard's "River of Doubt" so much I wanted to read more of her work. I was not disappointed!
While "Destiny of the Republic" is more about Garfield's inept medical care after being shot than anything else; it still paints a portrait of a man I want to learn more about. Millard's style is so informative that by the time you finish this you feel you've learned a great deal without feeling like it was being pounded into your head; she lays it out and it's just absorbed. This is a compelling story and a piece of American history that is overlooked. It is a tragic tale that leaves one wondering what kind of President Garfield would have been if not for his bumbling doctors.
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on February 23, 2017
The underlying book itself is a real jewel in terms of enjoyable historical content but is well written for easy reading (and listening) in this case. I bought this because my dad, an adjunct history teacher at a local college, read this book and just went on and on about it. I checked to see if Amazon had it and bought it for myself since I knew this was a very good book and because I like listening to audio books. Even while I was loading it into my laptop, I found myself really enjoying it right away. Paul Michael reads this and I really like the way he reads. He has a good voice and tone for this, I think. I couldn't recommend it more, for Candace Millard's content and for listening quality.
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on August 24, 2015
Another good book from Millard, just as fascinating as River of Doubt. I had never known anything about this president or his assassination. He was a great, self-made man who came from grinding poverty, and could have been a wonderful president had he lived. Moreover, the author shows us he needn't have died, but for the unbelievably ignorant medical care of the time. Also, I found It hard to believe that the President then was so unprotected, especially after Lincoln's assassination only 16 years earlier.

I thought that the narrative of the assassin's trial was historically important, too. It seemed to have prevented most of the conspiracy theories that Oswald's death caused when JFK was murdered. I believe that if Oswald had lived and stood trial, there would have been little doubt that he was an unbalanced loner who murdered the President, just as Guiteau was. I highly recommend this book, as it was not only well written and fascinating, but because it gave me knowledge of an era that has been glossed over in more of our history classes.
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on December 15, 2013
I do not often write reviews but I was moved to write one for this book. The author writes as if she was there as her research is extensive and complete. As a teacher of history, I had known Garfield was shot by an assassin and that he died not from the shot, but from all the poking and germs he ended up with due to the medical conditions of the time. I just never knew the role of Alexander Graham Bell or the role of Chester Arthur or Roscoe Conkling. Ms. Millard brings all of it to life in a cleverly woven tale which kept me entertained as no book has before. And what's the best part? I want to find out more of that period.
If you love history, you should read this book. I did and am more knowledgeable because of it.
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on June 28, 2014
I enjoyed Millard's first book, The River of Doubt; this book is equal to or better than that effort.

Millard captures the essence of who Garfield was- I knew nothing about him other than that he was assassinated. While his tenure was brief, he lived in a fascinating time of change and technological revolution. Unfortunately, some of the innovation and technology that might have saved his life was ignored or misused. Millard's concise and brisk narrative is full of interesting anecdotes that immerse the reader fully in the period.

Garfield and his assassin are both fleshed out through the lens of the attack and its aftermath. The reader is left with a sense of regret at what might have been should Garfield have been allowed to finish his term, but his death served to spur many beneficial changes including the first tentative sense that the post-Civil War US was once again one nation, united in grieving.

A highly recommended, fascinating and well-written read that is over almost too quickly.
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on March 14, 2015
Only President for 5 months before being hit by a bullet and subsequently dying of sepsis weeks later, James Garfield is often overlooked in American history classrooms. Yet his writings, and commentaries of those who knew him, indicate that he stood for and represented an American republic that was inclusive of all it's citizens. Following the aftermath of our Civil War, this was no small "ideal" and in fact, his suffering by an assasin's bullet (and ultimate death) united the country in a way that no one could have imagined!
Millard gives us a wonderful historical picture of what it was like to be sick in America in the late 1800's. The "overall" medical belief in America was that Lister's "germ theory" and insistence on "sterilization" was nonsense. It was only after Garfield's autopsy showed sepsis throughout his body, caused by his doctors shoving and probbing their uncovered, unsterilized fingers into his wound that medical care in this country began to pay attention to new ideas. Millard has written a great read, and has inspired me to check out other books that she has written. A great way to learn American history.
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on March 1, 2017
Candice Millard is a wonderful history writer. I've also read "Hero of the Empire" about Winston Churchill and The River of Doubt (Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey). Too bad these books can't be used for Texts in High Schools.
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on December 10, 2012
Garfield was one of those Presidents whose name I remembered but whose significance I poorly understood. This book changed all of that for me. I realized the magnitude of the loss to our country due to the assassination of this great man. Garfield intended to implement what the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution only promised. He firmly believed in the equality of Blacks and Whites and wanted to "educate" the South on the evils of prejudice. Garfield believed ignorance to be the cause of prejudice. He commanded the leadership style and grace of Abraham Lincoln and shared many of Lincoln's values. Like Lincoln he rose from poverty to achieve the highest office in the land. If he had been allowed to serve his first term and/or a second, he would have worked hard to implement better racial relations in our country. Like Lincoln a crazed assassin took his life. Could James Garfield be considered our second Abe Lincoln? One of the first things Garfield did in office was to begin to finish the construction of the Washington monument. I think he would have also constructed a better future for the country. But his life was cut short by a certifiably crazy office seeker who wanted to benefit from the spoils system that Garfield hoped to eliminate. It's ironic to me that it's as easy for an insane person to get a gun today as it was in 1881. Garfield's lingering death was caused by American doctors who, alone among the physicians of modern nations, refused to believe in the germ theory of disease and the necessity of sterilization of hands and instruments. Guiteau, the man who shot him, said that he didn't kill Garfield; the doctors did. This may have been the greatest truth Guiteau ever spoke. If his doctors had left him alone, he would have lived. The bullet lodged in a safe place behind Garfield's pancreas. Instead of letting it be, they probed his wounds with unwashed hands and unsterilized instruments and caused death by septicemia. Sometimes America is the most backward modern nation in the world, even to this day.
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