Barron Lerner discusses the doctor’s account of FDR’s death at HNN. He talks about how the “official” story was published in 1970 by one the physicians and actually talked about the seriousness of FDR condition, but Lerner says there are still questions:
Why did Bruenn decide to go public? Did others assist in the writing of the article? And, finally, was Bruenn’s claim that Roosevelt remained mentally capable until his death based on clear-cut facts or a selective reading of the evidence?
Lerner reveals why Bruenn wrote the article when he did:
In short, Bruenn wrote his article at the behest of the Roosevelt family, particularly his daughter Anna Roosevelt Halsted and her husband, James Halsted, who were eager to set the record straight. The Halsteds were especially upset at the so-called “sick man of Yalta” theory: the notion that President Roosevelt’s mind had been so clouded at the February 1945 Yalta conference that he had given away Eastern Europe to Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union. Another claim that angered the Halsteds was that Roosevelt’s precarious health should have prevented his running for reelection in 1944.
It turns out that Anna Roosevelt actually wrote chunks of the piece and was involved in its revisions – which begs the question – was this all just facts? Or what the Roosevelts wanted the public to believe? Lerner then talks about the response to the article:
The response to Bruenn’s article was almost universal praise but one critic, cardiologist Howard Burchell of the University of Minnesota, raised several questions. Most notably, he suggested that Bruenn, as a historical figure in the Roosevelt saga, necessarily wrote the article in a particular way. “One could submit,” he stated in a letter to the Annals, “that Dr. Bruenn would have strong unconscious forces which would operate in his rendering a favorable report on the patient’s health.” What makes Burchell’s comment especially perceptive, in retrospect, is that he did not even know about the involvement of the Halsteds or Burns.
For more information on FDR's death, check Dr. Zebra.