James A. Garfield was born into poverty, and became a scholar, a Civil War hero, and reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he won the election and battled a corrupt political establishment.
Four months after his inauguration he was fatally wounded in an assassination attempt.
But as author Candice Millard explains in the best-selling Destiny of the Republic, the madman's bullet left the wounded president the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power - over his administration, over the nation's future, and over his medical care.
A team of physicians administered ineffective treatments; and as Garfield's condition worsened, Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, worked to invent a new device capable of finding the bullet lodged in the president's body.
Millard explores this gripping story on Wednesday, May 16, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP online  or call 816.701.3407.
Millard is a former writer and editor for National Geographic and the author of The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey. She lives in Leawood, Kansas. Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine & the Murder of a President is published by Doubleday.
The New York Times Book Review calls Destiny of the Republic "a penetrating human tragedy," while The Washington Post praises its "fresh narrative that plumbs some of the most dramatic days in U.S. presidential history."
The event is part of the Hail to the Chiefs series on the American Presidency co-presented by the Kansas City Public Library and the Truman Library Institute and co-sponsored by KCUR's Up to Date.