Cover image for The hidden campaign : FDR's health and the 1944 election
The hidden campaign : FDR's health and the 1944 election
Evans, Hugh E., 1934-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Armonk, N.Y. : M.E. Sharpe, [2002]

Physical Description:
xvii, 202 pages, 10 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
E812 .E93 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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In early 1944, with the outcome of World War II by no means certain, many in the United States felt that FDR, as wartime Commander-in-Chief, was an indispensable part of prosecuting the war to a victorious conclusion. Yet although only 62, Roosevelt was mortally ill with congestive heart disease - a fact that was carefully shielded from the American public prior to the election of 1944. In a media environment where we get more details about politicians' health than we sometimes prefer, it is hard to imagine how a paper as authoriative as The New York Times could describe FDR's death as "sudden and unexpected" on its front page. Dr. Hugh Evans looks at the issue of Roosevelt's health not only from a medical ethics perspective, but also with a keen eye for the political and media considerations that led to the decision to run and not disclose the extent of Roosevelt's illness.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

In contrast to positions on the U.S. Supreme Court and to a lesser extent in Congress, the Presidency is a "killing job" for its occupant. On average, presidents die much earlier than their counterparts in the general population. Written by a professor of medicine (New Jersey Medical Sch.), this book surveys the medical condition of Franklin D. Roosevelt, America's only president to be elected four times. Critics have always charged that in 1944 the Democrats ran a dead man whose health undermined negotiations with the Soviets on the postwar world order at Yalta in early 1945, the year of the President's death. This volume makes it clear that FDR boasted excellent health at least during his first two terms and that he generally enjoyed himself until the end, despite suffering from serious hypertension. Evans points out that both the presidential and vice-presidential candidates on the 1940 Republican ticket, seemingly in robust health, died in 1944. Though much of this material is known to scholars, it is here evaluated in objective and readable manner. In offering a "third opinion" based on medical and historical evaluation of FDR's health, Evans raises serious questions regarding the health of political leaders in the nuclear age. Recommended for academic and public libraries.-William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

In 1944, Americans went to the polls and reelected a dying president. As Evans (Univ. of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey) demonstrates, Franklin Roosevelt's health was gingerly discussed in the media, but virtually no one outside the president's inner circle appreciated just how sick he was. Roosevelt's declining health and the deceptions that abetted his final campaign are amply documented in this brief but valuable book. FDR was suffering by early 1944 from conditions that manifestly affected his ability to conduct business in his final year in office. Drawing on newly available medical information, oral histories, personal interviews, and the work of other scholars, Evans concludes that Roosevelt might have lived longer had he retired but says that the president's sense of duty discouraged him from either taking better care of himself or asking hard questions of his doctors. For their part, Democratic leaders preferred to look the other way; FDR was their meal ticket. Most of Evans's judgments echo those expressed in Robert Ferrell's The Dying President (CH, Jul'98) and Robert Gilbert's The Mortal Presidency (CH, Mar'93; 2nd ed. Nov'98). However, his lucid discussion of Roosevelt's health, particularly in the context of the presidential campaign of 1944, is exemplary. University libraries and specialized collections. M. J. Birkner Gettysburg College