Staff Pick

Destiny of the Republic: A tale of madness, medicine, and the murder of a President
, by Candice Millard (Doubleday, 2011).

Divisive discourse. Politicians with questionable morals and ethics. Assassinations. A medical system that seemed to do more harm than good at times. While that description may sound like today’s society, this is actually a picture of America in 1881.

Into this world, James Garfield, a self-made man who grew up in extreme poverty, was elected President. But just four months after his inauguration, he was shot by a madman. How competition in the medical profession, political power struggles, and even Alexander Graham Bell played a part in Garfield’s story is chronicled in this very-readable piece of American history. A New York Times notable book for 2011.

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