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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (10,634 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Candice Millard Narrator: Paul Michae Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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James A. Garfield was one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back. 

But the shot didn’t kill Garfield. The drama of what hap­pened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in tur­moil. The unhinged assassin’s half-delivered strike shattered the fragile national mood of a country so recently fractured by civil war, and left the wounded president as the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power—over his administration, over the nation’s future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. A team of physicians administered shockingly archaic treatments, to disastrous effect. As his con­dition worsened, Garfield received help: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, worked around the clock to invent a new device capable of finding the bullet. 

Meticulously researched, epic in scope, and pulsating with an intimate human focus and high-velocity narrative drive, The Destiny of the Republic will stand alongside The Devil in the White City and The Professor and the Madman as a classic of narrative history.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A spirited tale that intertwines murder, politics, and medical mystery…Candice Millard leaves us feeling that Garfield’s assassination deprived the nation not only of a remarkably humble and intellectually gifted man but one who perhaps bore the seeds of greatness…Splendidly drawn portraits…Alexander Graham Bell makes a bravura appearance.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Crisp, concise, and revealing history…A fresh narrative that plumbs some of the most dramatic days in U.S. presidential history.”

    Washington Post

  • “Sparklingly alive…[Millard] brings to life a moment in the nation’s history when access to the president was easy, politics bitter, and medical knowledge slight. Under Millard’s pen, it’s hard to imagine its being better told.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Splendidly insightful…Stands securely at the crossroads of popular and professional history.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Make[s] for compulsive reading. Superb American history.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • Destiny of the Republic is popular history at its best—accessible, educational, and entertaining—and Millard renders it with grace, power, and sympathy.”

    Richmond Times-Dispatch

  • “An achingly good, suspenseful read…compelling characters and nail-biting storytelling, and [readers] will no doubt walk away even more emotionally affected by Garfield’s tragedy.”

    Kansas City Star

  • “Splendid…[It] recovers for us just what a remarkable—even noble—man Garfield was…She also chillingly depicts his killer…This wonderful book reminds us that our twentieth president was neither a minor nor merely a tragic figure, but rather an extraordinary one.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “By keeping a tight hold on her narrative strands, Millard crafts a popular history rich with detail and emotion. One of the pleasures of the book is the chance to learn more about Garfield, who appears as a fully realized historical figure instead of a trivia answer.”


  • “Millard provides a splendidly written and suspenseful account of this fascinating episode in American history.”


  • “Fascinating…Millard colorfully recreates the political milieu of 1880.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Filled with memorable characters, hairpin twists of fate, and consequences that bring a young nation to the breaking point, Destiny of the Republic brings back to roaring life a tragic but irresistible historical period.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Think you’re not interested in James Garfield, our twentieth president? Millard’s action-packed account of his life and truly strange death should change your mind.”


  • “Brings the era and people involved to vivid life…Takes the reader on a compelling fly on-the-wall journey…Millard takes all of these elements in a forgotten period of history and turns them into living and breathing things.”

    Associated Press

  • Destiny of the Republic displays Millard’s energetic writing and rare ability to effortlessly educate the listener.”

    USA Today

  • “Fascinating…Gripping…Stunning…The haunting tale of how a man who never meant to seek the presidency found himself swept into the White House…Millard shows the Garfield legacy to be much more important than most of her readers knew it to be.”

    New York Times

  • Winner of the 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Fact Crime
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • One of the 2011 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Nonfiction
  • A 2011 Barnes & Noble Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2011 ALA Notable Book for Nonfiction
  • Winner of the 2012 Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title
  • A 2011 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Sheri faulk | 2/17/2014

    " I really enjoyed this! Read like a historical fiction - althrough it is NONFICTION! My cup of tea - very educating! Make me want to read a biography of Alexander Graham Bell as well (I feel like I've already got a good insight after reading this book)! Worth the read! I've referred it to many. I checked it out at the library or I'd lend it out. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Betsy | 2/10/2014

    " Very interesting book about President Garfield's assassination. Author did a great job jumping back and forth between chapters about him and about his assassin. Liked her writing and thought she did a great job with background and history of both men. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jessie | 2/4/2014

    " Cinematic storytelling opens up a period of our history that is often overlooked. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Gwenn | 2/3/2014

    " A great must read about a little known President, James Garfield. What a renowned President he would have been if not for a deranged man. It is a profound read on the famous inventors involved in inventions that would have saved Garfield's life had Dr. Bliss not been his own designated surgeon of Garfield. "

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