Today, James Garfield is virtually unknown. But at the time of his election in 1880, he was well-respected politician. He did not seek the nomination nor did he campaign to win election. He was a dark horse to win the Republican nomination. However, there was a great conflict within the Republican Party between two factions. (Does this sound familiar?) The two expected front-runners could not win enough support to get the nomination and eventually Garfield was selected.Soon after Garfield became President, he was shot by a clearly insane man, Charles Guiteau. However, he did not die from the gunshot wound. President Garfield eventually died, but not because he was shot, but because of the unsanitary methods of his physicians. The doctors in America in the 1880's had heard the theories of Lister, who tried to prevent infection by implementing sterilization methods. His theories were accepted in Europe, but rejected by American doctors. By rejecting these methods, Garfield's doctors killed him by introducing infection to his body. The attitude of the American doctors reminds me of the attitude of those today who insist there is no global warming.The author tells the story of Garfield, his assassin, his doctors and several other people in an engrossing, readable style. In many ways, the events were so improbable that the book read as fiction. In addition to Garfield, there is the story of Alexander Graham Bell who was trying to invent a way to locate a bullet in a body. The part about how the machine worked was a little over my head, but overall the book was a fast, enthralling read.