The President Is a Sick Man: Wherein the Supposedly Virtuous Grover Cleveland Survives a Secret Surgery at Sea and Vilifies the Courageous Newspaperman Who Dared Expose the Truth

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Overview

On July 1, 1893, President Grover Cleveland vanished. He boarded a friend’s yacht, sailed into the calm blue waters of Long Island Sound, and--poof!--disappeared. He would not be heard from again for five days. What happened during those five days, and in the days and weeks that followed, was so incredible that, even when the truth was finally revealed, many Americans simply would not believe it.

The President Is a Sick Man details an extraordinary but almost unknown chapter in ...

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The President Is a Sick Man: Wherein the Supposedly Virtuous Grover Cleveland Survives a Secret Surgery at Sea and Vilifies the Courageous Newspaperman Who Dared Expose the Truth

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Overview

On July 1, 1893, President Grover Cleveland vanished. He boarded a friend’s yacht, sailed into the calm blue waters of Long Island Sound, and--poof!--disappeared. He would not be heard from again for five days. What happened during those five days, and in the days and weeks that followed, was so incredible that, even when the truth was finally revealed, many Americans simply would not believe it.

The President Is a Sick Man details an extraordinary but almost unknown chapter in American history: Grover Cleveland’s secret cancer surgery and the brazen political cover-up by a politician whose most memorable quote was “Tell the truth.” When an enterprising reporter named E. J. Edwards exposed the secret operation, Cleveland denied it. The public believed the “Honest President,” and Edwards was dismissed as “a disgrace to journalism.” The facts concerning the disappearance of Grover Cleveland that summer were so well concealed that even more than a century later a full and fair account has never been published. Until now.

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Editorial Reviews

Mark Berman
Matthew Algeo's breezy, enjoyable book takes us back to 1893…[and] paints a startling portrait of an era when a politician could simply deny accurate reporting and be given the benefit of the doubt.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Despite a reputation for honesty, says Algeo (Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure), "President Grover Cleveland, like FDR and JFK, went to great lengths to hide an illness from the public. In June 1893, having told the New York Times he was going away for a rest, Cleveland secretly boarded a friend's yacht and disappeared for five days as surgeons onboard removed a cancerous tumor from his mouth and much of his upper jaw. Reporters at the Cleveland's Cape Cod summer home became curious when the Oneida failed to arrive. Within weeks, Philadelphia Press reporter E.J. Edwards revealed the truth in "one of the greatest scoops in... American journalism," but the public accepted the official denials. Maligned by rival newspapers, Edwards was branded as "a disgrace to journalism," his career "seemingly tainted forever by allegations that he had faked the story." But he was vindicated in 1917 when the facts were finally revealed in a Saturday Evening Post article. Along with a solid reconstruction of these events, Algeo paints a colorful portrait of political intrigue and journalism during the Gilded Age. B&w photos. (May)
From the Publisher

“Riveting and engrossing as the best detective novel, The President Is a Sick Man is an exceedingly well-documented and overdue account of one of the great presidential cover-ups of all time.” —James McGrath Morris, author of Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power

“In seemingly effortless prose, Matthew Algeo tells the intricate story of one of the most unusual operations in American history. . . . Delightfully entertaining and informative.” —Mary Cappello, author of Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration and the Curious Doctor Who Extracted Them

"[A] brilliantly written historical perspective .  . . . Readers will be fascinated by this must read for anyone interested in presidential medical history.” —Dr. Connie Mariano, White House Doctor (1992–2001), author of The White House Doctor

"Author Matthew Algeo takes a little known part of presidential history and creates a page-turning ride in The President Is a Sick Man." —The Associated Press

"The President Is a Sick Man is a lively, cautionary tale—and one with a lesson for leaders that recalls Cleveland's own words of wisdom: Tell the truth." —The Wall Street Journal

"Algeo paints a colorful portrait of political intrigue and journalism during the Gilded Age." —Publishers Weekly

"Recommended for those who enjoy popular presidential histories and biographies, the history of U.S. newspaper reporting, and popular medical nonfiction." —Library Journal

"Algeo is a determined researcher and fine stylist, and the story of presidential illness serves as an effective connecting thread through a somewhat broader account of the United States during the hard economic times of the 1890s. A memorable lesson in how journalists can dig out the truths beneath official lies." —Kirkus Reviews

Library Journal
In 1893, during his second term, President Cleveland went on a yacht trip from New York City without providing details to his cabinet, his vice president, the press, or the public. Cleveland, known for honesty, secretly had a cancerous tumor removed from his jaw. Algeo (Harry Truman's Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip) makes good use of primary and secondary sources to give general readers a full history of these circumstances, known to presidential and medical historians but to few others. An investigative journalist who sought to reveal the truth was vilified by the skeptical public; one of the participating physicians published the story in 1917, almost ten years after Cleveland's death. Algeo explains the reasons for Cleveland's discretion: the country was in a financial panic, vice president Adlai Stevenson opposed the President on the matter of hard money policies, and Cleveland did not want to lose the upper hand. VERDICT Algeo's colloquial, even punchy account fills out our understanding of a press-shy President, the day's newspaper rivalries, and the role of First Lady Frances Folsom Cleveland. Recommended for those who enjoy popular presidential histories and biographies, the history of U.S. newspaper reporting, and popular medical nonfiction.—Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Library of Congress
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781613744567
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/2012
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 291,102
  • Product dimensions: 5.62 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

Matthew Algeo

Matthew Algeo is a public radio reporter. He is the author of Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure: The True Story of a Great American Road Trip, which was one of the Washington Post’s Best Books of 2009, and Last Team Standing: How the Steelers and the Eagles--“The Steagles”--Saved Pro Football During World War II, which won the 2006 Nelson Ross Award for best pro football historiography.
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Table of Contents

Preface ix

Part I The Operation

1 A Rough Spot 5

2 Big Steve 19

3 The Dread Disease 39

4 DR. Keen 63

5 The Oneida 81

Part II The Scoop

6 The Cover-Up 101

7 The Newspaperman 127

8 Exposed 141

9 Liar 155

Part III Vindication

10 Aftermath 177

11 The Truth (At Last) 207

12 Postmortem 217

Acknowledgments 229

Cast of Characters 231

Sources 235

Bibliography 237

Index 243

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 17 )
Rating Distribution

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(2)

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(10)

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(4)

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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 13, 2012

    History that most of us never knew about - fun read!

    A very interesting and enjoyable read about President Grover Cleveland and his secret surgery to remove cancer in his mouth in 1893. It's not only a story about that, but also about the cover up to keep the surgery secret , the reporter who found out and tried to let the public know, and finally about the life and times of late 19th century America. It's a quick read and definitely worth the time. I especially enjoyed reading about how casual life in the White House was 100 years ago. People could just walk in and walk upstairs to see the president!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 9, 2012

    Recommended - very interesting

    The President is a Sick Man offers insight into presidential history that I have never read or heard of before. The presentation was very interesting and kept my attention. The last 25% of the book started to lose me because I feel the author was just trying to fill pages. However, overall I feel the book was well written and worth my time. Any person who enjoys reading about American history should enjoy this book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    President Undergoes Secret Cancer Operat

    The book addresses a little-known event in American history which may have changed the way the economic crisis of that time was handled. It is still truly amazing that in these days of immediate and 24-hours news something like this could have been kept a secret. It is not that amazing that, even in those days, there was a snitch.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2011

    Excellent

    Highly recommended

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2013

    Just ok

    this book is really interesting, but the writing is not all that great. the book does not capture me as the reader as some other books have. There is also some parts of the book that drag on and on and have nothing to do with the story at hand. I'm just not impressed.

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  • Posted January 15, 2012

    Highly recommended-A MUST read

    This book is a riveting read from first sentence to last. Whether you are a history buff or you enjoy a good mystery, this is the book for you. Picked it up to read for just a bit and could not put it down. This book does not disappoint. It delivers from beginning to end. Be amazed. Be amused. But most of all be entertained. This book has it all. If you are especially interested in forgotten chapters of our nation's history, you will be glad you purchased this little gem.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2011

    Very Interesting cover-up

    Anyone interested in American history would like this book

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted July 21, 2011

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