The most recent entry in Times Books’ American Presidents Series, Ira Rutkow’s biography of James A. Garfield, is a petite volume, even by the standards of this series. It weighs in at a tidy 139 pages.
The brevity of Rutkow’s biography is understandable considering the all-to-brief arc of
Rutkow neatly summarizes
Nearly half the book is given over to the assassination attempt, the dismal state of Nineteenth Century American medicine and the cruel 80 days of suffering
Charles Guiteau, the frustrated office-seeker who shot
In a fascinating summation, Rutkow notes that almost 100 years later, in 1981, President Ronald Reagan suffered far more serious wounds at the hands of an would-be assassin. Yet because of the advances in medical care, Reagan was on his feet within 24 hours and returned to the White House, “fully able to conduct the nation’s business,” within 11 days.
In addition to being a published author, Rutkow is a clinical professor of surgery at the
It is impossible to accurately appraise