The author is Candice Millard, the subtitle is A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President, and the topic is James Garfield, with good bits on Alexander Graham Bell. Excerpt:
Garfield realized with a sinking heart that a large portion of his day, every day, would be devoured by office seekers. His calling hours were 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and he faced about a hundred callers every day.
…Those who waited outside the White House, moreover, did not want simply to apply for a position. They wanted to make their case directly to Garfield himself. As the leader of a democratic nation, the president of the United States was expected to see everyone who wanted to see him.
And I had not known this:
To the astonishment of the members of Congress, Bliss [the doctor who cared for Garfield and possibly killed him] confidently presented them with a bill for $25,000 — more than half a million dollars in today’s currency…Congress agreed to pay Bliss $6,500, and not a penny more.