Destiny of the RepublicNovember 9, 2011 at 8:28 PM | Posted in Books, Great People | 7 Comments
Tags: Alexander Graham Bell, Candice Millard, Dr. Bliss, James Garfield
Even before finishing Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard, I based my opening remarks to our Customer Advisory Board on the many thoughts that have raced through my mind from the first page on. Now that I’ve finished listening to it, I name it great.
It is the story of the assassination of President James Garfield in 1881, the almost mesmerizing nut who shot him and the doctor who, in the end killed him with a stubborn ignorance that even then, in those fledgling scientific days, seemed crazy. Soon after the President, only four months in office, died other doctors declared that if his physician had done nothing, left the man alone, he would have recovered. Instead, he pushed unwashed fingers and instruments into the wound. Garfield lingered in agony for 80 days before succumbing.
It is a book filled with names. We learn that Alexander Graham Bell worked feverishly (literally) to invent an instrument that would locate the lead bullet in Garfield’s body. Just as he thought he had perfected it, Dr. Bliss (and someone soon commented that “Ignorance is Bliss”) would only allow him to test the side of the body where the Doctor thought the bullet resided. Of course, once an autopsy was done, the bullet was found on the other side.
This is the type of story that, even though you know the end result, you still hope for a different ending.
Nearby to where I live there is a Garfield Street. He is portrayed in the book as a particularly intelligent and even wise man. He is worth learning about.