A FIRST-RATE MADNESS
By Hassir Ghaemi
It seems one of the problems shared by President Obama, Tony Blair and George Bush might be that they are, well, sane – normal, at least according to this book by Nassir Ghaemi. The question of which characteristics or qualities make leaders is a fascinating one, especially when it touches on the theme of mental health. Whereas it is easy and something of a relief to determine that Hitler, Amin or Pol Pot were mad (if theirs were the actions of sane people what does that say about human kind?) it is a little discomforting, but fascinating, to think that great leaders such as Churchill, Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Ghandi suffered from clinically recognized conditions, or that their pathologies might have been central to their success. In this respect, the topic is as much about the cultural perception of mental illness as its relation to power and leadership and Ghaemi has made a valuable contribution to both questions in this book.