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The Dying President: Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1944-1945 Hardcover – April 3, 1998

2.7 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Presidential historian Ferrell (emeritus, Indiana Univ.; Choosing Truman, LJ 3/15/94) has written a concise account of the last year of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's life. Many historians have speculated about the cause of Roosevelt's death, and rumors have persisted for years that he died of a brain tumor or cancer. Using the latest evidence, Ferrell concludes that Roosevelt died of a cardiovascular disease. He not only explores the theories surrounding FDR's death but posits that FDR knew how serious his health problems were, and he also considers whether the president's illness affected the decisions he made. In this excellent treatment of Roosevelt's last year, Ferrell is able to convey complex situations in easily understood terms. Unlike his book on Harding (The Strange Death of President Harding, Univ. of Missouri, 1997), which left a number of questions unanswered, this work should end some of the controversy surrounding Roosevelt's death.?Richard P. Hedlund, Ashland Community Coll., Ashland, KY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Unquestionably, FDR was not healthy enough to survive a fourth term, yet his death was a tremendous national shock, showing the affection with which he was regarded--and how effectively his debilitation was concealed. Ferrell's mining of the president's medical condition has unearthed interesting nuggets about the cover-up, such as the fact that FDR's medical chart is missing. However, a diary kept by Roosevelt's cousin, Margaret Suckley, has recently surfaced and it, along with the memoirs of his cardiologist, forms the basis for this day-by-day account of his decline. A thorough and diligent historian, Ferrell presents the provable facts and then collects in a final chapter his speculations about FDR's motives for hiding his condition. Ferrell's views seem reasonable--FDR was self-contained, felt that he was indispensable, and was, perhaps, unwilling to face medical reality--and he explains how these factors came to bear on the larger questions, such as the critical decisions taken, or not taken, because of FDR's inability to work during the climax of World War II. The last word on the subject--unless FDR's chart ever surfaces. Gilbert Taylor
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: University of Missouri; First edition (April 3, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826211712
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826211712
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,608,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Though a definitive account of FDR's health problems may never be possible, Ferrell's book is probably as close as we are likely to come. As Ferrell recounts, FDR by 1944 was so ill that he could put in no more than four hours of work a day, and usually only one or two. Unable to concentrate for long periods, FDR gave intermient attention to postwar foreign policy and addressed problems piecemeal. Put simply, FDR was incapable of overseeing the development of coherent and consistent policies. If Ferrell is right, and I find his evidence compelling, the notion advanced by some historians that Truman reversed FDR's policy of postwar cooperation with the Soviet Union, thereby precipitating the cold war, needs rethinking. Ferrell has done a laudable job, not only of shedding new light on FDR's medical problems, but of bring out their broader implications.
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Format: Hardcover
Some have written that Ferrell's work is sloppy and depressing. I disagree. Ferrell does an excellent job of showing 21st Century readers just how different this country was 50 years ago. That the entire country could look at Roosevelt during his last run for office - and know that he was a dying man - and not know it at the same time, is amazing. This is the same country that couldn't deal directly with a President in a wheel chair. The country knew it, but didn't know it, all at the same time. How different was the relationship between the press and the White House!
The purpose of this book is not simply to drive home the point that Roosevelt was a dying man when he ran for a fourth term. The point of this book is about collective denial. The fact that most of the country suffered from it, used it, and both benefitted from it in some ways, and paid for it in others. Collective denial isn't much different from individual denial. It is a powerful mechanism that existed not only in the relationship between FDR and the country, but between FDR and himself. It also is the mechanism that allowed the United States to fight WWII to "make the world safe for democracy," while at the same time the country was somehow unaware of its own racist, anti-democratic values. Ferrell's book should be read within the context of the times, so that it may shed light on ours.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a student of WWII history and the involvement of the United States in the war, I always wondered why Roosevelt declared that we would not get involved in a foreign or European war, then turns around and commits millions of men and billions of dollars for allies. Now I understand perfectly. Because he was totally unfit to lead due to critical decline in his mental and physical health, he let the following actions pass without objection. 1. Stalin and Churchill used his crippling weakness to get everything they wanted, For Stalin the whole of Europe and for Churchill, to be strong and wealthy again. 2. The total destruction of Germany because of its genius people who worked hard, were the greatest inventors, writers, business and industry production with new ideas constantly being produced and invented. Germany posed a threat to Stalin because of the great evil communism while Churchill recognized that Germany could easily defeat England in war as well as economically. 3. Because Germany expelled as many Jews as possible before the war really got going, they were embarrassed after being forced to work in concentration camps for German industry and actually shovel snow instead of running banks and enjoying the good life, in fact almost every country in Europe expelled the Jews not because of their Talmud centered religion but because they took over many positions in business and government by shrewed manipulation and collective agreement. These and many other things brought about the devilish Morganthau plan whic was designed reduce the German people and country to peasants. But I thank God that he was and is in charge and would not let the near death president live to fulfill the Elvis schemes devised by all of these people that conspired against Germany.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
The Dying President: Franklin D. Roosevelt 1944-1945 by Robert H. Ferrell isn't much of a book, and it doesn't cover much information not previously published.

Most FDR fans know the basic facts about his life and death. In 1944, his daughter, Anna Roosevelt Boettiger, insisted that her father have a complete physical because of what could be seen as a visible and marked physical decline. Prior to that, the president's standing physician, Dr. Ross McIntire, was a Navy doctor whose specialty was Ear, Nose and Throat. A battery of doctors from Bethesda Naval Hospital discovered that FDR suffered from severe hypertension and congestive heart failure. In 1944, there was little the medical profession could do for these two maladies. Unbelievably, the president was kept in the dark about his health, and he never asked questions about his health, constant medical testing, or his treatments. These medical experts (who took over his treatment) were also not consulted about FDR's decision to run for a fourth term.

There is not much new in The Dying President, except what comes from the diaries of FDR's distant cousin and confident, Margaret Daisy Suckley. But even these revelations don't add much to the story, other than the fact that FDR did know that Dr. Howard Bruenn was a cardiologist. Ferrell does offer the theories that FDR could have suffered from stomach cancer or melanoma. But he provides no additional research to prove or disprove these already published speculations.

When discussing a book written by Dr. Ross McIntire about FDR, Ferrell describes it as "absurdly thin." The same can be said about The Dying President. The body of this book is only 152 pages, and 36 of these pages are photographs.
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