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The Fatal Bullet: The Assassination of President James A. Garfield (A Treasury of Victorian Murder) Paperback – April 1, 1999

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this first-rate nonfiction comics work, Geary examines the assassination of our 20th president, James Garfield, murdered barely six months into his presidency by Charles Guiteau, a failed lawyer and demented evangelist. Although the two men never knew one another, Geary focuses on the peculiar similarities in their backgrounds. Both hailed from the Midwest (Garfield from Ohio and Guiteau from Illinois) and were devoutly religious, studied law and gravitated toward politics. But the two couldn't have been more different. Garfield was honest, a brilliant student, a decorated Civil War hero destined for distinction. Guiteau was a misfit even as a child and ended up a deadbeat and a religious fanatic, convinced that he was chosen by God for greatness. Geary's well-researched account also documents how easy it was to gain access to, and the vulnerability of, American presidents in the 19th century. Guiteau secretly stalked the newly elected Garfield (who was given to strolling unguarded around D.C. at any hour) and shot him from behind as he was about to board a train. Geary also takes note of the woeful state of medical treatment at the time. Shot in early July, Garfield finally died in September after suffering through inept and painful attempts by his doctors to remove the bullet. Guiteau was tried and hanged for the murder shortly afterward. Geary's black and white drawings are superb as always in this work, a fitting follow-up to his equally fine The Borden Tragedy. (Aug.)

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

An award-winning cartoonist and illustrator, Rick Geary has worked for Marvel Entertainment Group, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and Heavy Metal, and has contributed to National Lampoon and The New York Times Book Review.
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Product Details

  • Series: A Treasury of Victorian Murder
  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: NBM Publishing (April 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561632287
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561632282
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #862,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David E. Levine on January 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
When I ordered this book, I thought it was a short textual history of the assasination of President James Garfield. It turns out that this book is in comic book format with the story being told by dialogue and cartoon illustrations. However, I really enjoyed the book and learned a lot about Garfield, his assasin, Charles Guiteau, and Garfield's slow death.
Guiteau was basically a loser in life and had even served time in jail. He was constantly skipping out on creditors and and he showed signs of mental illness. He was dillusional and thought that Garfield would apppoint him to an ambassadorship. He literally stalked both Garfield and Secretary of State Blaine in an attempt to secure the appointment. When it was not forthcoming, he stalked Garfield (this was in the days before the secret service) until he had the opportunity to shoot the President.
The wound caused a rupture in an artery but an aneurism sealed off the opening so he did not bleed to death. Garfield lingered for many weeks until the aneurism ultimately ruptured and Garfield died. The location of the bullet had not been located and the aneurism had gone untreated. Today, Garfield's condition would have almost certainly been diagnosed through an MRI and he may have survived delicate surgery which would have saved his life.
In reading history, we generally get a line or two about Garfield being assasinated by a "disappointed office seeker." It was enjoyable to learn more about this event, particularly in such an unusual literary format.
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Format: Paperback
This entry in Rick Geary's series on Victorian murders examines the assassination of President James Garfield by Charles J. Guiteau, a megalomaniacal failure at preaching, the law, and almost everything else he had tried. The drawings are evocative of the time and place, and give a clear idea of the events. The lives of Garfield and Guiteau are traced, and Guiteau's mental illness is made quite clear; today, he would almost certainly be sharing a room with John Hinckley. I'd like to see this whole series reprinted: one of them is out of print and apparently unavailable.
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Format: Paperback
As a history buff, and a fan of Rick Geary's, I knew I'd enjoy this book, but I had no idea how much! The book tells the paralell stories of President James A. Garfield and his stalker (and eventual assassin) Charles Giteau, an abysmal failure in every aspect of life; indeed, his ONLY success in life was the murder of President Garfield, and he almost botched that up, too. Garfield lingered for months after the attack, dying perhaps more as a result of medical incompetence than Giteau's efforts.
Geary's wonderfully cartoony art is reminiscent of claymation; it gives a true illusion of depth and form. He is truly one of the underrated geniuses of the Comic art form. His meticulous research gives us many interesting facts, such as The President being allowed to walk around Washington D.C. unescorted (No Secret Service yet), Abraham Lincoln's son's association with Garfield, and too many others to count. Do yourself a favor- read the book!!
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Format: Paperback
On July 2, 1881, President James Garfield, whose term has just begun a mere 4 months earlier, was shot in the back by a delusional religious fantatic called Charles Guiteau. 2 months later Garfield would succumb to the bullet wound and shortly after Guiteau would be hanged.

The assassination took place just 16 years after Lincoln's death in Ford's Theatre and the details in Garfield's case pointed to the same mistakes that allowed Lincoln to be assassinated. Garfield had no escort, he walked about Washington D.C. by himself, unguarded. Guiteau followed him on a couple of occasions! On the fateful day, Garfield was taking the train for his holidays, walked through the waiting room with one of his ministers and his two sons, allowing Guiteau free access to stand up from one of the waiting room seats and shoot him as he passed! Amazingly it would take a third Presidential assassination - that of William McKinley in 1901 - for Congress to give the President an official guard, the Secret Service.

Geary tells the story in a strange way by comparing the lives of Garfield and Guiteau. Showing where one had a strong will to study and for hard work, and the other didn't, how people (in his eyes) are made either great or not. The story here isn't as compelling as Geary's other book on Lincoln's assassination with the background being less desperate and the assassin Guiteau acting alone on his own bizarre ideas. He was a deeply religious man who believed the "Deity" had told him to kill Garfield and somehow believed this act would lead to a consulship in Paris. Strangely, it didn't.

The other interesting point is the lack of medical knowledge at this time.
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Format: Paperback
Rick Geary's new book "The Fatal Bullet..." explores an important event in American history in an unusual yet effective manner.

To summarize: the nation, which in recent times had dealt with the horrors of President Lincoln's assassination was once again shaken to its core the summer of 1881. On Saturday, July 2 in the near empty waiting room of a train depot, the twentieth U.S. President, Republican James Abraham Garfield was shot in the back. It would take a grueling two months before the President would succumb to his injury.

The assassin, one Charles Guiteau was quickly apprehended. He announced that he bore no ill-will toward the President but that his death was a "political necessity." During his trial Guiteau defended himself proclaiming to be an agent of deity. He would go on to state that the President's physicians should bear the burden of his death. He reasoned this because of the fact that they had decided the wound the President had suffered was not, in fact fatal and that he would soon recover. Guiteau was convicted of the assassination by a jury and was executed by hanging on June 30, 1882.

What sets Geary's book apart from other historical works is that it was written in a graphic novel. With illustration reminiscent of a comic book, Geary's book sets out to explore the Garfield assassination as well as to take a closer look at the events leading up to this significant point in the two men's lives.

Geary examines certain similarities in both lives. Some of these included are in regards to their home regions, the fact that both were the youngest in their family, both considered clergy as a career and that both were drawn to the law and politics.

Robert Frost wrote of two roads that diverged in the wood.
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