Milliard’s writing style and use of imagery makes the reader feel like they are witnesses to the key events in the book. The book highlights the life of James A. Garfield. Garfield didn’t have it easy; he was born into extreme poverty, but rose quickly over the layers of society. He had a love for learning and once said “education is salvation,” education changed his life for the better. In his college years he went from being a school janitor to the school president, the man was brilliant and a scholar.
Politics and war ended his school career; Garfield was a Civil war hero and a deeply admired congressman. Four months after his inauguration, a man named Guitar tracked Garfield down and shot him. The first part of the book was an introduction to all of the characters and some background information about the political events and war. Millard does a fantastic job at switching between the thoughts and lives of Guitar and Garfield before and after the shooting. Guitar was the opposite of Garfield and in this story; he plays the part of the villain.
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According to the encyclopedia Guitar had written a speech in hopes that Garfield would use it in a debate with Hancock, but in reality, Garfield never even read it. Garfield won the debate and Guitar believed it was because of his speech. Guitar then became a bother to Blaine, the Secretary of State, and Blaine pushed him away; Guitar was bitter with resentment. As a result of Guitar’s insane agenda and resentment, he shot Garfield. Garfield should have survived, recovered, and lived a long life, but that didn’t happen because of medical malpractice.
In this book it seems as if Millard felt more contempt toward the doctors than she felt toward Guitar. It’s almost like she was somewhat sympathetic toward Gateau, compared to how everyone else felt about him. While telling about Garfield time spent in the hospital, Millard also gives you an inside look at the dirty hospitals and the technological advances at the time. Garfield was shot and Alexander Graham Bell invented a metal detector to try to locate the bullet; but while he was working on that, Dry.
Bliss was trying to dig around in Garfield and locate the bullet himself. If Bliss would have listened Garfield about his back and leg pain they could have located the bullet with no problem. One quote that came to mind while reading this book was: ignorance is bliss. Anesthesia and Listed antisepsis method was also available around this time but medical et. If they would have used these methods, removing the bullet would have been a clean and easy task.
If this shooting would have happened in today’s world, he wouldn’t have died so soon because medical practices and knowledge have improved. The drama in this book is symbolic for our nation in turmoil. Garfield was a very well-respected man and the shooting happened after the Civil War. The author saw Garfield shooting as a healing time and unifying event for our nation. This author was very organized and from the acknowledgements you can tell that she admires Garfield, really enjoys writing about history, and highlighting the important figures in history that have been forgotten.