“He probably would have been successful if he hadn’t been insane.” Just one of Candice Millard‘s great quotes of the evening, about Charles Guiteau, the assassin of President James A. Garfield.
I’ll be honest with you. Before Millard spoke at Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures, I thought, like many people do, that President Garfield was boring. Now…
I can’t wait to dig into Millard’s new book, Destiny of the Republic, about President Garfield’s life and murder, and the lesser known ways in which his death at the hands of a prideful and careless physician changed the practice of medicine in the United States. I had goosebumps listening to the story, and sadness over the kind and honest leader who died before he reached his 50th birthday.
Millard was introduced by Dr. Don Fischer of Highmark (supporter of Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures) who talked about the simple practice of hand-washing. I chuckled a little when he insisted to the audience “You have a right to stop someone from touching you if they haven’t washed their hands.” But as I thought about it, I remembered how many times this scenario still plays out, how many times we’ve been in hospitals, wondering whether or not we had the right to question hospital staff on this very issue. His parting quote, while humorous, was even more poignant when understanding that before the changes in American medicine, someone as great as Garfield was brought down not by the bullet that lodged in his spine, but by the infection brought on by so many “healing” hands reaching carelessly into his body.
But there is so much more to Destiny of Republic: the changes in our country; reformation and transformation of his successor Chester A. Arthur; and pieces of these men as only understood through their letters, loves and the way Millard carefully and intriguingly reanimates them. Her political statement about the story of Garfield resonated through the quieted audience, “We have probably outgrown the day when Americans can recognize an honest man…with no financial support…and elect him to office.”
She also spoke and answered questions about River of Doubt, “Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey,” about his trip through the Amazon after losing his third run for presidency. Millard used her experience as a National Geographic writer with her passion for research and history to engage readers in the life and struggles of one of America’s most beloved presidents. This lesser known chapter of his life, usually only a blip in biographies, is examined in detail.
Millard talked a little of her own writing as well, patterning her work ethic after one of her own idols whom she has met, Michener. Much like the blog post I had about Patchett and Loren, Michener insists “I’m not brilliant. I just work hard.” Personally, I think most of the writers I like are brilliant as well as hard-working, and I think Millard is no exception.
She argues that “the right story is always worth the effort of finding” and the audience came to realize just how seriously she meant it. In researching River of Doubt, Millard told of immersing herself in the Amazon, retracing steps of his expedition. At one point the single-engine plane she was in cut out over the rainforest canopy, leaving her and her pilot in deadfall. Fortunately for us he recovered the engine and she went on to finish the book.
I have a signed hardcover of each of these books for you to win. See contest information below for each. Good luck!
As you can see, I’ve given you many ways to enter Contest #1. I know it makes extra work for me in keeping track of entries, and I’ve already created a spreadsheet. But I put a lot of work into bringing you these fun things and I hope you’ll enjoy the many opportunities to enter to win these great books.
CONTEST #1 – Win a Hardcover of River of Doubt, Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey, signed by the author, Candice Millard
CONTEST 1 HAS SEVEN (7) WAYS TO ENTER (Enter once or enter up to 7 times – how much do you want this cool book?)
1) Comment! Receive one entry by commenting on this post. Not something lame like “Hi” but something real, maybe about this blog, maybe about Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures or about one of my previous posts. One entry per commentor. Multiple comments by the same person only count as one entry.
2) Your comment will count for TWO entries if you use it to discuss any post I’ve written prior to July 31, 2012.
3) One entry if you link to the contest on your blog or website (make sure you tell me about it!)
4) Share today’s Facebook post about this contest.
5) Retweet today’s tweet about this contest. (@travelingmarla)
6) Thank Candice Millard on her Facebook Page for signing a book for the Traveling Marla contest
7) Thank Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures on Facebook for bringing Candice Millard to Pittsburgh. (Feel free to reference this post. I won’t mind 😉 ).
DEADLINE: Thursday, Dec 13th, NOON!
Any questions, please email me: marla at marlasinkdruzgal dot com
CONTEST #2 – Win a Hardcover of best-selling book Destiny of the Republic, A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, signed by the author, Candice Millard
CONTEST 2 (DESTINY OF THE REPUBLIC) ENTER WITH YOUR DONATIONS ONLY!
Donate to Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures. Every dollar donated gets you one entry to win this book. (If you donate $1, you get 1 entry. If you donate $50, you get 50 entries.) I need proof, so please email me your receipt or a photo of it that I can confirm through PA&L, to marla at marlasinkdruzgal dot com (if you’re worried about privacy, you can either blackmark your receipt or cut out a section. See what I did in my Hurricane Sandy donation as an example). Remember, your donations are tax deductible and it’s the time of year for giving, isn’t it? I can’t say enough how amazing this nonprofit organization is. Look at all the great authors they’ve brought to Pittsburgh!
DEADLINE: Thursday, Dec 13th, NOON!