Friday, June 7, 2013

Destiny of the Republic- a book review

A tale of madness, medicine and the murder of a President By Candice Millard I had the highest respect for Mrs. Millard after reading “The River of Doubt, so I looked forward eagerly to reading this book. I was not disappointed. The research that it must take to collect the information must be a massive undertaking. She is obviously very qualified in doing so. I, like most other Americans had little knowledge of President Garfield. His tenure as President was limited. He was shot after three months on the job, just getting his policies in order when it happened. He did linger on for a number of months but was incapacitated as to performing his duties. The author weaves in Alexander Graham Bell and the invention of the telephone and his attempt to invent a device to locate the bullet in Garfield’s chest. She also gives us the history of the assassin Charles Guiteau and the American medical community who did not believe there were germs. The premise is that had they done so Garfield would have recovered on his own, as he was a fit person, quite strong. All of the above were intertwined gradually ending with the shooting and then his painful death. Garfield was born in a very small log cabin, the last President to start this way. His father died while he was just a boy. His mother did everything she could to see that he became educated and could improve himself. This part of the book is fascinating. I proves the old adage that you can become what you want to be if you put forth the effort. From her account of his writings and life it assures me that he could have been a great President. In his inaugural address he spoke with passion about the legacy of the Civil War. He said, “The elevation of the negro race from slavery to the full rights of citizenship is the most important political change we have known since the adoption of the Constitution. It has liberated the master as well as the slave from a relation which wronged and enfeebled both”. How much might he have been able to accomplish had that madman not decided to make himself famous by murdering this wonderful man. We will never know, but what we do know is that the black race suffered for many years trying for equality in the face of bigotry, that I might add continues today. I highly recommend reading this outstanding book. Jack B. Walters June 6, 2013

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