Disclaimer: I won this book. I'm reviewing it, even though I didn't pay for it. Beyond the nice people at Penguin Publishing mailing the book to my house in a white, padded envelope (sadly *not* reusable) there was nothing else implied by me or the publisher in my reading it. No promise of any more white envelopes stuffed with more books, no promise of more white envelopes stuffed with $100 bills (which would have been nice, actually). It is what it is.
Did some of our best leaders in times of trouble suffer from mental illness?
That's the premise of "A First-Rate Madness", which looks at historical accounts of past world leaders and contrasts the ones that were more successful with people who are more footnotes in history.
In addition to the Kennedys and Lincolns, the book also delves into Hitler (to which the author makes no defense of Hitler's actions, only if he was actually "mentally ill" or simply in a drug-induced psychosis), Ghandi, MLK, and for reasons that I'm still not 100% clear on, Ted Turner (also the only living person he examines for illness.)
The book compares the war struggles of the past, and compares some with the current actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Spoiler arert: Bush is *not* crazy, and actually quite normal (if there is such a thing) compared to the population at large.
It's all a very interesting view, and the book really only was a little slow in the first couple sections between looking at historical people (Sherman and Lincoln) as the thesis was starting to be laid out. Four stars, because parts of it read more like a textbook than something you would willingly read, although the book as a whole was quite good.