Was George Washington Really the Father of Our Country?: A Clinical Geneticist Looks at World History

Was George Washington Really the Father of Our Country? A Clinical Geneticist Looks at World History
by Robert Marion

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The trends of history do not depend just on decisions that leaders make; medical and genetic conditions often determine the direction that events take. Robert Marion, clinical geneticist, describes six great leaders whose genetic makeup had a profound effect on how they saw the events surrounding them and how they responded to those events. He tells us of George III's porphyria, George Washington's infertility, Napoleon's height (actually, Napoleon was average sized, but since no pictures of him were available, the English thought he was short), Lincoln's Marfan's syndrome, Rasputin and the hemophilia of Tsarevich Alexis Nicolaievich (and how he inherited that from Queen Victoria and George III), and John F. Kennedy's Addison' s disease. Marion gives a description of each medical condition, how it affects those who have it, and how, in these specific cases, future events might have been determined by the condition. He began to be interested in this way of describing genetic conditions when he was giving lectures on medical genetics and needed to make the lectures interesting. He has succeeded in presenting factual and informative data on genetic conditions and in relating the data to the events of history, as well as to the events of everyday life.

--Reviewed by Peter Arvedson in Science Books and Films, 30/6 (August/September 1994), p. 170.


text 1994 by Robert Marion, M.D.
Cover Design by Rich Defeo
Reproduced by permission of the publishers