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In Sickness and In Power


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Speaker(s): Lord Owen
Chair: Professor Peter Hennessy

Recorded on 27 October 2008 in Old Theatre, Old Building.

The course of world history has been critically shaped by the physical and mental illnesses of heads of state, sometimes in the public eye but usually in secrecy. Long fascinated with the inter-relationship between politics and medicine, David Owen uses his deep knowledge of both to undertake a unique study of illness in Heads of Government during the last 100 years. Owen expertly scrutinises such diverse political personalities as Sir Anthony Eden at the time of Suez in 1956; John F. Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961; the last Shah of Iran; and President Mitterrand of France who suffered from prostate cancer. Lord Owen also focuses on the "intoxication of power" and hubristic behaviour in such leaders as David Lloyd George and Margaret Thatcher and in particular President Bush and Tony Blair. Lord Owen outlines some of the safeguards that society needs to address as a consequence of illness in heads of government.

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