I must confess that, before reading this book, I knew next to nothing about James Garfield, other than that he was president for a short time before he was shot and subsequently died. This book has greatly expanded my knowledge of a man who, had he lived, might have become a very important president.
The first part of the book goes into Garfield's early life, and his election to the presidency, but it doesn't delve very deeply into this aspect. The author is much more concerned to show that Garfield would probably have survived his being shot, except for the incompetence and sheer obstinacy of the doctors into whose care he was placed.
It's true that the time period of the shooting was in a place in history in which most American doctors did not believe in the existence of germs, and therefore saw no need to take precautions to have a sterile work environment. This alone was more than likely the reason that Garfield died. The book also details Alexander Graham Bell's furious research to construct an implement that could locate the bullet in the president's body. Although the device worked, Bell was not allowed to search the side of the body in which the bullet actually resided, and therefore was not able to locate it.
The book is a tale of incompetence on the part of members of the medical profession, who caused death because of their outmoded beliefs and sheer stubbornness. It's a cautionary tale, very well told, and extremely interesting reading.
"His ultimate place in history will be far less exalted than that which he now holds in popular estimation" --- New York Times During the six and a half minutes we spent on the Presidency of James Garfield in my freshman U.S. History class back in 1965 chances are better than even that I was not paying close attention. I hate to admit it but the truth is that I knew virtually nothing about the 20th President of the United States until the owner of my local bookstore recommended … more
I'm a small town general practice attorney in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. Books are my passion, andI read as many of them asI can. Being the President of the local library board for over … more
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