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When Illness Strikes the Leader

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The mental and physical health of world leaders are critical issues that are only beginning to receive serious public attention. All too frequently, leaders remain in power despite health problems that may diminish their capacity to govern. Cover-ups for incapacitated leaders have long been the rule for a variety of reasons, including the real and perceived importance of an existing leader, the workings of the inner court to limit damage control, and the fear of change if a new leader comes to power. Psychiatrist Post and political scientist Robins present numerous fascinating examples of how such diverse leaders as Winston Churchill, the Shah of Iran, Menachem Begin, the recent Soviet gerontocracy, Mao and Deng, and several American presidents have been so affected by health problems that they became dangers to their nations. Although cases of the American presidents are more thoroughly discussed in Robert Gilbert's excellent The Mortal Presidency ( LJ 11/15/92), this work is highly recommended for subject collections and large public libraries because of its readability, emphasis on non-American leaders, and analysis of health issues specifically applied to leadership settings.-- Karl He licher, Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, Pa.

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