I have read a number of biographies of Grover Cleveland (1837-1908) and of his wife Frances. He is the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms. His secret surgery was discussed in all of the biographies. Matthew Algeo has limited his book to information about this secret surgery. He also provides a review of medical problems of presidents while in office. Algeo gives a brief review of Cleveland’s past to provide an understanding of the man and life in the 19th century.
Cleveland was in a contentious political struggle over whether the U.S. should return to the gold standard to back its money (Cleveland’s position) or continue with a policy that also accepted silver, the view of his Vice-President Adlai Stevenson (1835-1914). Cleveland feared should he become incapacitated, Stevenson would assume power and sway the country’s financial direction. In his second term, Cleveland had surgery to remove an oral tumor from his palate. This surgery was performed in secret on a yacht. Cleveland and associates denied a reporter’s claim he had cancer surgery and stated it was a tooth removal only.
In 1975, a pathologist examined the oral tumor that was preserved in a Philadelphia museum. They stated it was a verrucous carcinoma, a rare, slow-growing cancer. This type of cancer primarily occurs in the mouth of smokers or tobacco chewers. Cleveland was a cigar chomper. In Cleveland’s time cancer had a social stigma and was not discussed.
The book is well written and researched. Algeo is a journalist and his writing is in the style of a reporter. It is easy to read and makes for a quick read. The author may have overstated his point, but otherwise the book followed the historical facts.
I read this as an e-book on my Kindle app for my iPad. It was 273 pages long.
An extraordinary yet almost unknown chapter in American history is revealed in this extensively researched exposé. On July 1, 1893, President Grover Cleveland boarded a friend’s yacht and was not heard from for five days. During that time, a team of doctors removed a cancerous tumor from the president’s palate along with much of his upper jaw. When an enterprising reporter named E. J. Edwards exposed the secret operation, Cleveland denied it and Edwards was consequently dismissed as a disgrace to journalism. Twenty-four years later, one of the president’s doctors finally revealed the incredible truth, but many Americans simply would not believe it. After all, Grover Cleveland’s political career was built upon honestyhis most memorable quote was Tell the truth”so it was nearly impossible to believe he was involved in such a brazen cover-up. This is the first full account of the disappearance of Grover Cleveland during that summer more than a century ago.