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In Sickness and In Power: Illness in Heads of Government During the Last 100 Years Paperback – 21 Apr 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 436 pages
  • Publisher: Methuen Publishing Ltd (21 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0413777081
  • ISBN-13: 978-0413777089
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 4.7 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 218,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"A fascinating book" Stefan Stern
-- The Financial Times

"Owen has produced a compelling book" Daniel Finkelstein -- The Times

"major contribution to historical and political understanding that no one else could have written - utterly absorbing" David Marquand -- New Statesman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"major contribution to historical and political understanding that no one else could have written - utterly absorbing" David Marquand --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 15 Jan. 2009
Format: Hardcover
A fascinating if bitty summary of the health problems which beset a selection of the C20th world leaders. Given that the writer is both a distinguished political figure and a neurological specialist, his comments are particularly interesting,although I did wonder at times whether it was the doctor or the politician who was speaking. I suspect that this may have occured to Dr Owens which might explain the lengthy introduction establishing his credentials as a neurologist. Some of the revelations are fascinating and downright alarming - I agree with the earlier reviewer who picks out the health of JFK and its effect on his handling of both the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban missile crises as one of the best examples. Quite why he goes on to decry the ideas put forward in the final chapter as "liberal" puzzzles me - would he prefer them to be "illiberal"? I would use impractical or utopian.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lucy B on 4 Oct. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Immensely insightful, and with thought provoking ideas about the way in which a person's medical condition affects their 'day job' as a political figure. Sounds like a heavy, worthy topic but is actually very readable. All backed up with lots of research and appealing 'insider' knowledge - obtained via the author's medical or political careers.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dr. R. Brandon TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 26 May 2008
Format: Hardcover
Although an attractively presented book on a potentially interesting subject the content and style are disappointing. Dr Owen starts with a section devoted to the illness of various world leaders over the last 100 years. These vary greatly in interest and relevance to Owen's emerging theme of the need for greater clarity over the health of leaders or potential leaders. There follows four 'case histories' reviewing the health of Eden, Kennedy, the Shah of Iran and Mitterrand and whether or not it had an adverse effect upon important decisions each leader made. By far the most interesting section, and that part of the book that really springs to life, is the question of the health of President Kennedy and how this may have influenced his disastrous escapade over the 'Bay of Pigs'. Owen suggests that at the time of Kennedy's successful handling of the 'Cuban Missile Crisis' his serious illnesses were under good medical control hence the assured responses.
There then follows a passage on Owen's hypothesis of a 'hubris syndrome' with particular relevance to Bush, Blair and the Iraq War. In many respects this is a completely different topic to the physical and mental health of leaders and gives the book a distinct 'cobbled together' feel whereas two shorter works may have been more appropriate. This feeling is reinforced by the 'hotchpotch' of items in the initial section referred to above.
The book concludes with a number of foolish pseudo-liberal suggestions regarding medical screening of leaders, the right of UN intervention in the internal affairs of countries and Owen's continuing support for regime change despite the Iraq fiasco.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John Maguire on 28 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
A ground-breaking book that opens the door to a new area of political economy. David Owen's background as a medical doctor and a leading political figure of our times gives a unique voice to this subject. It deserves to become a standard text in its field.

The extent to which illness can affect our leaders should be a concern to us all. Worse, the tendency of some leaders to become prone to behavioural inconsistencies the longer they hold office is developed by the author into a fascinating 'hubris syndrome' with its attendant personality symptoms and modern examples.

This book should resonate with electors and provide cause for reflection by those who seek or hold high office.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Goran on 27 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
Being a medical man (psychiatrist) I find this book to be extremely interesting not only to a specialist but also to the layman. There are many excellent explanatory footnotes concerning medical data. Complicated diseases are described in a manner, which makes the book accessible to anyone.
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Format: Hardcover
The subject of illness and its impact upon decision making is a fascinating one and David Owen's book manages to make it less than fascinating owing to his turgid style and where he goes off on a tangent of his theme of how hubris gets in the way of rational thinking. What is most surprising is the complete absence of any mention of a rather better and earlier book from 1993 covering similar ground and case studies - When Illness Strikes the Leader: The Dilemma of the Captive Kingby Jerrold M Post and Robert S Robins ISBN 0-300-05683-4.

This is a better and more rounded book than Owen's. Both books underline the role that illness has had on world events and how quite understandably wrong or misjudged decisions can be made whether you are physically and/or mentally ill.
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