Candice Millard is the author of Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President.
From her Q & A with Randy Dotinga at the Christian Science Monitor:
Q: How did you come across the little-known story of President Garfield?--Marshal Zeringue
A: I came in to this book without an interest in Garfield. I didn't know anything about him other than he'd been assassinated.
I was actually interested in Alexander Graham Bell and looking at a book with a lot of science in it. I stumbled upon the story of him trying to find the bullet in Garfield.
I wondered why Bell would do this. He's young, he just invented the telephone a few years ago, and he abandons everything he's doing to work night and day on an invention. I start researching Garfield, and I'm blown away by how brilliant he was and the huge heart he had.
It took me three years to work on the book, two years of doing research, and I was far into it by the time I wrote his death scene. I called my husband in tears.
I didn't want to write it. That's ridiculous: It's been 130 years since he died. But I felt like I knew him. I cared about him, and I admired him, and I was surprised by all of that.
Q: Four presidents have been assassinated, but we remember just two: Lincoln and Kennedy. Why have we forgotten Garfield?
A: We forget because...[read on]