Lomazow (Neurology/Mount Sinai School of Medicine) and New York Post associate editorial-page editor Fettmann challenge the conventional wisdom about what killed President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In the last few years of his life, Roosevelt’s health rapidly declined, and he became visibly frail and thin. On April 12, 1945, the president complained of a headache and collapsed and died shortly afterward. The accepted cause of Roosevelt’s death, as diagnosed by his cardiologist, was a sudden, unpredictable brain hemorrhage. Lomazow and Fettmann present a circumstantial case that Roosevelt was actually felled by long-known skin cancer that had metastasized to his brain. They also charge that Roosevelt’s physicians and advisors kept the president’s cancer secret from the public, before and after his death. The skin cancer, the authors write, was a fast-growing dark brown spot above the president’s left eyebrow, which is apparent in photographs. Photos from the last few years of his life show telltale markers of undocumented surgery on the spot. By then Roosevelt showed several signs of metastasized melanoma, the authors claim, including severe stomach and vision problems. Lomazow and Fettmann’s analysis of the president’s last months, including his final speech to Congress in March 1945, where he rambled and was clearly unwell, is effective and thought-provoking in this context. The president’s fatal brain hemorrhage, they point out, could also have been caused by a metastatic tumor. It’s also easy to entertain the authors’ charges of a medical cover-up, given Roosevelt’s long history of hiding his medical issues from the public—in particular, his longtime paralysis. But even the authors note that there’s no smoking gun to prove their theories—there was no autopsy on the president, and his medical records are long lost. As a result, despite the authors’ impressive research, much of the book is based in mere conjecture. They also do their argument no favors by quoting sensationalistic magazines and conspiracy theorists from the ’40s, who share their views.
An intriguing but ultimately unconvincing what-if about FDR’s death.