20 - James A Garfield

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20 - James A Garfield

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Editado: Out 10, 2012, 8:57 pm

James A. Garfield by Ira Rutkow
The Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of James A. Garfield
Destiny of the republic : a tale of madness, medicine, and the murder of a president
From the tow-path to the White House

James Garfield could write Latin with one hand and Greek with the other.
Garfield was the second president shot in office. Doctors tried to find the bullet with a metal detector invented by Alexander Graham Bell. But the device failed because Garfield was placed on a bed with metal springs, and no one thought to move him. He died on September 19, 1881.
Garfield was our first left-handed president.
He was the first president to campaign in more than one language.
He was named after his older brother James, who died in infancy, and his father, Abram Garfield.
Garfield was the only president to have been a preacher.

Jul 13, 2009, 7:35 am

My husband just visited the Garfield burial site yesterday and I thought it would be nice to obtain some biographies for him to enjoy - any suggestions?

Jul 13, 2009, 8:24 pm

Hey 3BrowCat---You might try Dark Horse by Kenneth Ackerman. It is a book about Garfield's unexpected election and his assassination. I enjoyed the book but I like reading about elections of the past. I have it posted in my library.

Jul 15, 2009, 11:29 am

Thanks! Looks like a great choice!

Ago 2, 2010, 2:03 pm

I have a beautiful copy of The Life and Work of James A. Garfield by John Clark Ridpath. It's an 1882 publication by Jones Brothers and Company. There is some nice relief tooling on the spine and cover boards and the title and a picture of Mr. Garfield is gilt on the front. Someone has used the book for pressing fern leaves and there are two newspaper clippings tween it's pages: one is a picture of Abraham Lincoln and the other is a 1918 obituary column for Lucretia Rudolph Garfield, byline Los Angeles March 18, which appears to be from a San Francisco Bay Area newspaper.
The Garfield story is a well presented history of a good man. If a reader assumes total accuracy by the writer, Mr. Garfield could have been a great man. The first months of his short term in office had been unpleasant with such things as strife within the Party, his wife's illness and removal from the city for recuperation and a clamor for political office, the last of which gave rise to his being shot by a severely disappointed seeker, Charles J. Guiteau, as he was arriving at a railway depot on his way to be with his wife. From that day, July 2, 1881, the book is presented almost as a diary covering the 80 days of medical mistakes. It is sad reading - even the piece about the 300 men building 3200 feet of railway line overnight to connect the main line at Elberon, Long Branch, with the door of the Francklyn's sea-front cottage where it was hoped the stricken President would be able to recuperate.
The book also contains the full text of the memorial address delivered before the Congress by James A. Blaine, ex-Secretary of State.
At the end of the book, Mr. Ridpath has added a 122 page "The Life and Trial of Guiteau the Assassin" which sums up the man with a capitalized, one line statement: "He is a moral idiot".
I admit to a partiality for old usage of the English language and for strong, certain, statements by biographers. I'm sure most of this treatise contains fact but I'm also sure some of it is colored by Mr. Ridpath's opinion.
If you can find the book, I'm sure you will enjoy the history of it.

Ago 2, 2010, 5:36 pm

Sounds like a beautiful book. I remember reading that they tried some magnetic device Edison came up with for finding the bullet but it failed because Garfield was lying on a rare for the day mattress with metal springs. I don't know if that's a true story, but -- like the tales of Herodotus -- if it isn't it oughtta be ...

Ago 3, 2010, 2:48 pm

This book states that it was a Hughes Induction Balance, improved upon and used by Alexander Graham Bell, that gave inconclusive results. Mr. Bell wrote in his report to the attending surgeons that he concluded the ball lay within a "general" area (not firmly identified in the report) but that, 'The facts show that in ignorance of the actual shape and mode of presentation of the bullet to the exploring instrument, the depth at which the bullet lies beneath the surface cannot be determined from the experiments'.
It also cites new engineering of machinery for air cooling, air drying and air purifying being fitted to the executive mansion and many, many conflicting medical opinions and procedures being suffered. It seems clear that, should today's technology been available then, Mr. Garfield would not have died.
That caused the sadness I referred to. If it weren't so sad, it would be comic.

Ago 3, 2010, 2:49 pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Out 14, 2010, 10:16 pm

I read both James A. Garfield by Ira Rutkow and The Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of James A. Garfield by Kenneth D. Ackerman. The first wasn't much of a biography, but did have a great discussion of the Garfield's medical treatment - or rather, mistreatment - and the state of medicine in 1881. The second was a great retelling of the election of 1880, Garfield's presidency and fight with the Senate over patronage, and his shooting and subsequent death. Highly recommended!

Editado: Fev 11, 2011, 8:00 pm

Dark horse : the surprise election and political murder of President James A. Garfield by Kenneth D. Ackerman - finished 2/2/2011
552026::The fatal bullet : a true account of the assassination, lingering pain, death, and burial of James A. Garfield, twentieth president of the United States; also including the inglorious life and career of the despised assassin Guiteau by Rick Geary - finished 2/6/2011
From canal boy to president, or, The boyhood and manhood of James A. Garfield by Horatio Alger - reading

"Cincinnati, Ohio, circa 1906. "Garfield statue." Our 20th president, cut down by an assassin's bullet and put up on a pedestal. 8x10 glass negative."

Editado: Jun 16, 2011, 2:21 pm

Garfield: A Biography
by Allan Peskin

(insert obligatory comic strip comment here)
This 1978 biography of James A. Garfield was pretty good. It not only covered the events of his life but also related it to the events that were happening in the country around him. (Which is good because my whole rationale for reading through presidential biographies is to get a better handle on American history.) In fact, I found that if anything was lacking in this biography, it was coverage of Garfield's family life.

As far as the subject of the book goes, I found Garfield himself to be somewhat unimpressive. In the beginning, as I read about his early life and religious upbringing--he came across as far more religious than his predecessors--I thought I might like him better than the other presidents. But as he traded his pulpit and classroom for a political stump and then a regiment I found him to be, ah, uninspiring. Despite the era, his life lacked the drama of Lincoln or Grant. Nor did he have the personality of Johnson or Hayes. What I did appreciate, however, was how Garfield played his part in the events of his day. This biography was especially useful in showing how the liberal party of the abolitionists started to become the conservative party of big business. All in all, like I said, it was a pretty good book.

Jun 28, 2011, 11:33 am

I also read James A Garfield by Ira Rutkow, but I found it lacking. It seems that a biography should have a better grasp of what the person actually did. 80 pages were spend on his life, and 50 pages were spent on him getting shot and the slow decline into death. I understand that he was only president for months, and the assassination is what he is known for, but to me, that's a reason to spend more time on what he did so that people can learn more about it. It's not surprising that this was the result though, since Schlesinger chose a doctor to write the book about Garfield. The discussion of the malpractice and the context of American medicine at the time was interesting, but it was not what I was looking for.

I'm reading the Kansas University book, which combined the presidencies of Garfield and Arthur. When I finish the Garfield part (which is only about 50 pages), I'll report on it.

Abr 24, 2012, 9:36 pm

I read two books a about James A. Garfield. My first read was not exactly a biography but it was an excellent book. I read Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard. The book revolves around Garfield's assasination. It covers the state of medicine at the time which was none to good. We would can Garfiled's treatment malpractice today. The book details Alexander Graham Bell's attempt to build a metal detector to find the bullet in Garfield's body.

I also read James A. Garfield by Ira Rutkow. This was the typical short biography from the American Presidents Series.

Editado: Jul 8, 2012, 1:45 pm

Read Dark Horse by Kenneth Ackerman but am going to read Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard to compare the two. This is President #10 off my list. (Presidential ticker #22)

Editado: Ago 2, 2012, 11:18 pm

I just finished reading Destiny of the Republic as well and thought it as a pretty good book. Candice Millard writes really well and I've read comparison of this book to Erik Larson Devil in the white city, which I would agree is a good comparison. The book is relatively short and contains good photo illustrations and is well referenced and reads quickly. I read an unabridged ebook and was surprised that I had come to the end of the text at about two thirds through the file - the rest was notes, bibliography, figures, etc.

The book follows multiple threads - the life and assassination of Garfield, the life of giteau, the assassin, and also the scientific and medical theme mainly centered on Bell and his induction balance metal detector but also the malpractice of Bliss, the main doctor and to some extent Lister and the general medical schools of thought at the time regarding sterile practices.

Excerpts of letters helped to make the book lively but I would have appreciated longer excerpts at times and was engrossed in the book so would have been fine with a longer overall length.

Millard paints a positive picture of Garfield and at the end interesting, attributes his death with the downfall of the spoils system which is soonish left to blame for the ultimate cause of allowing someone like giteau to occur and also attributes the nation's mourning as a unifying force between country's regions. She also paints a picture of Chester Arthur as one who grows substantially through the circumstances thrust upon him though of still limited effect.

Overall it's an interesting and quick read and I would recommend it.

Ago 3, 2012, 4:32 pm

I saw Millard speak about Destiny of the Republic at last year's National Book Festival in Washington, DC. She's a very good speaker too. There's probably a video of it on the Library of Congress site. They sponsor the festival.

Out 6, 2012, 3:16 pm

I read Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard. Out of order, but I saw her speak and couldn't resist reading the book right away. I will probably read it again when it comes up in order. I thought it was a fabulous book. Millard has a great respect for James Garfield, and it really comes through in the book.

Maio 13, 2014, 8:32 pm

I also read Dark Horse: The Surprise Election and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield by Kenneth D. Ackerman. There was a lot more information in this book about his earlier years and his time in the Senate (of course, it was also bigger than the other book). I still found him a fascinating man and wonder what he would have done had he lived. Ackerman didn't seem to have as high an opinion of Garfield as Candice Millard had, but I still enjoyed both books.

Ago 4, 2014, 10:11 am

Finished Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard on Friday 8-1-14. I read this as an E-library book.

Thought it was a good book. Easy and fast read. Learned a lot about Garfield, but want to know more. Will look to read something else about him in the future.

Jan 4, 2015, 12:11 pm

I'm just getting ready to start this book. Have been off reading other things. But need to get back to this challenge.

Jan 9, 2015, 11:24 pm

I just finished reading Dark Horse: The Surprise Elecation and Political Murder of President James A. Garfield and thought it was a great book. It was a very good read. Definitely one of the better books read during this challenge.

Jan 10, 2015, 10:31 pm

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard. It didn't cover too much of his early life, but more about his life after being nominated for President and also the tome between being shot and the months before he died. Interestingly, it wasn't the bullet that killed him, but the lack of cleanliness of the doctors who treated him. Germs and the prevention of them were just being promoted in Europe.

Editado: Jan 10, 2015, 10:34 pm

I have Dark Horse on my Nook, I may come back to that later. On to Chester Arthur!