The former vice president shares a detailed history of his heart attacks, alternating sections with the doctor who has supervised the surgeries to keep him alive despite multiple near-death experiences.
Cheney (In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir, 2011) experienced his first heart attack in 1978. During his varied career in politics—as a representative, secretary of defense, chief of staff and vice president—Cheney’s bosses and associates generally knew about his weak heart, as did attentive members of the general citizenry. Perhaps, however, few understood how often the balky heart kept Cheney on the sidelines or slowed his performance. Reiner (Medicine/George Washington Univ.) inherited Cheney as a patient from a retiring doctor. The two men formed a close bond as repeated heart attacks, suspected attacks and the resulting fallout in compromised health forced them into proximity. Cheney rarely examines his partisan politics within the text, and Reiner eschews politics completely. Instead, they lean toward the teaching mode, hoping readers will grasp the importance of preventive medical care and appreciate the vast progress made in recent decades in the field of heart surgery. For the most part, the patient and the doctor explain themselves clearly and strike the appropriate didactic tone. At times, the details from Cheney range from self-indulgent to tiresome, and it’s unlikely that Democratic readers will pay any attention to this book. For the most part, however, Cheney’s survival instincts come across as admirable, whether he is admired or despised by readers for his political decision-making. Also open to question: whether President George W. Bush and his advisers should have asked Cheney to serve as vice president for eight years knowing his health history and possible future dangers.
Gives meaning to the phrase "a heartbeat away," especially when applied to an official who could possibly ascend to the highest office in the land.