The Second Mourning
Stephen G. Yanoff
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (02/15)
“The Second Mourning” by Stephen G. Yanoff is an unforgettable story of the assassination of the 20th President of the United States, James A. Garfield, and the untold story of his assassin, Charles Guiteau, arguably one of the most insane figures in history.
I am not typically a big fan of reading non-fiction works, and history normally puts me to sleep. I knew very little of President Garfield, nothing at all about Guiteau, and was actually a bit skeptical of the subtitle: “The Untold Story of America’s Most Bizarre Political Murder” – really? Oh, but I was quickly won over, for Mr. Yanoff created quite a treasure of a book in “The Second Mourning.” The meticulous way he crafted this piece of American history into a story that reads like a fictional thriller you “just can’t put down” was simply brilliant.
Guiteau was quite the shady character to say the least, and the reader gets a clear picture of his descent into madness. From his unfortunate childhood full of abuse to becoming the abuser, a con man, a fanatical member of a religious cult, among other insidious careers, there is little doubt of his insanity. I think one of my most amazed moments was when he argued with his own defense team at his trial.
Most painful to me was to realize how far civilization has advanced in so many different ways since the late 1800’s. The incompetence of the doctors probably did more damage to President Garfield than the assassin’s bullet, as they didn’t wash their hands and spent a good amount of time poking their dirty little fingers into the bullet hole – disgusting and so sad! It was also mind-boggling to read that the President’s itinerary was listed in full detail in the newspapers and that the President was traveling unprotected by the Secret Service!
“The Second Mourning” by Stephen G. Yanoff is excellent. A must-read for all history buffs and non-history buffs alike!