Relative to what I'd like to know, I know very little about American history. But I plan to spend the rest of my lifetime fixing that! Fantastic books like Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President really help.
President James Garfield seems to have been a great guy. He didn't even want to be the president, but it was foisted on him by a bickering party that could not unite behind the blowhards who wanted to run. But likely because Garfield became the president, US civil servants now earn their positions, rather than the previous method of patronage. He also brought the North and South together in a way that hadn't yet been done following the Civil War.
Back then, everyone had access to the president. There was no secret service protecting him, and it was thought that in a democracy, the president should see whoever calls upon him. As such, he would see up to 100 strangers per work day, most of whom were seeking jobs!
I thought the author did a fantastic job making some boring content (like the events at the Republican National Convention) interesting. The book kept me engaged throughout, which probably helped me retain more than I otherwise would have. I recommend the book to anyone interested in this topic.