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.
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