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March 27, 1996

Ailing Leaders in Power 1914-1994

JAMA. 1996;275(12):953-954. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530360063044

Do you think I am trusty and faithful? Do you see no further than this facade, this smooth and tolerant manner of me? Have you no thought O dreamer that it may be all maya, illusion?—Walt Whitman, 1855.

This is a book with a cautionary message about ailing world leaders, both in politics and in all manner of high office. The message is timely and topical in the American context as we enter an election year. Hugh L'Etang is a persuasive writer; he is your guide through a museum of morbidity and mortality among the powerful of this century.

Some exhibits, such as the failing physical or mental powers of Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Churchill, are familiar to many of us. Less familiar figures under scrutiny are Brezhnev, Saddam Hussein, Oliver North, Imelda Marcos, and other living and dead US presidents. Marginalia include military personalities, judges, and business heads, some