Bob and Weave

Musings of an impostor. Welcome to the masquerade.

Nonfiction Historical Narrative Interlude

Posted by flyingbk on 09/20/2016

I’ll get to Part 2 of my series in the next day or two. But a quick interlude: I am so excited to tackle Candice Millard’s book Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchillwhich is out today! Nonfiction historical narratives are my absolute favorite genre, and Millard is a master at it. Plus this story is about Churchill, one of my personal heroes.


I cannot recommend her previous book, Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President, highly enough. There’s romance, rags to riches, political intrigue, attempted murder, the foolishness of premodern medicine, and Alexander Graham Bell. And I love these kinds of writings because they’re paced like an action novel. You will come away with a great appreciation for President James A. Garfield, a man of impeccable character who passed away too soon.

The one anecdote in this book that will forever stick with me, and one I’ve used often as a sermon illustration, is about Garfield. I’ll let Millard tell it:

Nor was Garfield capable of carrying a grudge, a character trait that neither Conkling nor Blaine could begin to understand. Years before, Garfield had resolved to stop speaking to a journalist who had tried to vilify him in the press. The next time he saw the man, however, he could not resist greeting him with a cheerful wave. “You old rascal,” he said with a smile. “How are you?” Garfield realized that, in a political context, the ease with which he forgave was regarded as a weakness, but he did not even try to change. “I am a poor hater,” he shrugged.

I love it. May we all seek to be “poor haters.” It’s so easy in today’s world to instantly judge, stereotype, hate, harbor offense, hold grudges. We all know there’s a ridiculous number of opportunities every single day for people to stir up hate and anger in us: co-workers, bosses, spouses, parents, children, friends, acquaintances, strangers, political figures, athletes, celebrities, police officers, drivers, pedestrians (that last one is for me).

But the secret is to instantly forgive. As quick as the opportunity to hate arrives, we should be even quicker to forgive and refuse to take offense. Life is a lot more joyful and a lot less messy that way. Thank you, Millard and President Garfield.

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One Response to “Nonfiction Historical Narrative Interlude”

  1. […] « Nonfiction Historical Narrative Interlude […]

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