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The Mortal Presidency: Illness and Anguish in the White House Paperback – January 1, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0823218370 ISBN-10: 0823218376 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 353 pages
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press; 2 edition (January 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823218376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823218370
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,337,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Gilbert, a professor of political science at Northeastern University in Boston, soberingly describes the illnesses of several 20th-century U.S. presidents and examines the political and psychological repercussions of their maladies. Noting that Calvin Coolidge and Dwight Eisenhower endured lives of illness and pain, accentuated during their time in the White House, Gilbert argues that their suffering was caused at least in part by personal grief and feelings of guilt. He addresses the question of whether Franklin Roosevelt's physical deterioration had a negative influence on the presidency and of what effect John Kennedy's regimen of medication had on his behavior in office. Gilbert contends that the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan and his cancer surgery in 1985 significantly affected his administration and likely contributed to the Iran-Contra scandal. In his thought-provoking study Gilbert calls for a reassessment of the 25th Amendment, the constitutional mechanism for transferring power to the vice president. Illustrations.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The issue of presidential disability usually focuses on the legal aspects and merits of the 25th amendment. Gilbert's groundbreaking study examines how stress and the potential for psychological illnesses make the modern presidency a dangerously unhealthy office. Twenty-five presidents have died prematurely, and those who have lived longest beyond their life expectancy were, surprisingly, the nation's first ten chief executives. Robert Ferrell's fine Ill-Advised: Presidential Health and Public Trust ( LJ 9/15/92) focuses on the historically bad medical treatment presidents have received and believes better prepared White House physicians will improve care and the quality of life for our presidents. Gilbert's strength lies in his excellent medical and psychological profiles of Calvin Coolidge, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan. While one could challenge Gilbert's assumption that Eisenhower's enduring commitment to duty was a lifelong desire to win his mother's approval, the author provides very plausible assertions about other presidents. That Kennedy's severe medical problem contributed to his growth as a leader; that Coolidge's ineffectiveness was attributed to his depression resulting from the untimely death of his son; and that Reagan's denial of the Iran-contra scandal pattern followed a not untypical pattern for an adult child of an alcoholic parent are plausible motivating factors worthy of consideration. Strongly recommended for public and academic subject collections. See also T. Burton Smith and Carter Henderson's White House Doctor , reviewed on p. 84.--Ed.
- Karl Helicher, Upper Merion Twp . Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 18, 1996
Format: Paperback
This book argues that the modern presidency is so stressful that it is a threat to the health of its occupants. After a short chapter on the general mortality rates of presidents, the author gives five fascinating case studies (of Presidents Coolidge, Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Reagan). I don't think the author really proves his main premise: in recent times Presidents Nixon, Ford and Reagan have comfortably exceeded their normal life expectancies, and, for that matter, it looks like Lyndon Johnson was actually kept alive by his presidency. (He looked after himself prudently while in office, but started chain-smoking again and gorged on fried foods after he left. He died four years later.)

For all that, however, the case studies are quite fascinating and should be studied by anyone who wishes to know more about any of the men in the case studies. For example, Gilbert shows that, contrary to legend, neither Roosevelt nor Kennedy performed his duties less than well, however poor his health. In short, the book is well worth reading for its biographical detail, but it doesn't really add anything to the debate about reforming the American presidency
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By mark twain on October 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
I am a grad student at Northeastern University, taking a class on The Presidency with the author of this book, Robert Gilbert. He is amazing and extremly knowledgeable on every aspect of the presidency. My classmates and I alllllll love him and agree that he is one of the best professors we have ever had.
Buy his book, and if you have the chance TAKE HIS CLASS!
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