Thursday, August 8, 2013

Edward Lee Howard

In Chapter Four "The Traitor's Disease" of my book I describe the case of  Edward Lee Howard, one of America's most destructive alcoholic traitors. I leave off the description of his treachery in the mid 1980's when, learning American authorities were on his tail, he escaped to Moscow.

Now Robert Stone has brought me up-to-date. In today's Wall Street Journal Stone expresses doubt about the official explanation for Howard's reported 2002 death in Moscow. The Russians claimed he died in a "drunken fall" in his dacha. Stone speculates instead that he may have been murdered by the Russians to eliminate a potential embarrassment in their relationship with the USA.

Perhaps. But people in the late-stages of alcoholism have been known to die in falls just as in the early to middle stages when their egomania is at its peak they tend to look for ways to express their need for power. For some in a position to do so, as was the CIA-trained Howard, that meant embarking on that ultimate power trip, betrayal of one's country.

I have no problem believing that the underlying cause of Howard's treachery and his flight to Moscow also led, years later, to his death: alcoholism.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Should an Alcoholic Be Allowed to Get a Second Liver Transplant?

Considering the question of how to allocate a scarce resource: human organs

Theodore Dalrymple

 ... A newspaper in England asked me to write an article, for what for me was a considerable sum of money, to opine that a certain very famous soccer player, who had turned severely to drink after his retirement, should not be given a second liver transplant, the first having failed because of his continued drinking. The player in question was not admirable, but he did say one memorable thing. Impoverished by his habits, an interviewer asked him where all his money had gone. “Wine, women and song,” he replied. “The rest I wasted.”

I told the newspaper that, as a practising doctor, I could not possibly write an article saying that a named person should be left to die without potentially life-saving treatment.

“Do you know a doctor who would write it?” the editor asked.

“I hope not,” I replied.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

How Alcohol Has Steered American History

by Susan Cheever

From the Pilgrims' pit-stop at Plymouth Rock, to the murder of Abe Lincoln, to Wall Street's meltdown, booze has played a pivotal role in our nation's most momentous events. But we prefer to ignore its profound impact.  


Many of the darkest episodes in our history, not surprisingly, also include alcohol. John Wilkes Booth reeked of brandy as he ran from Ford’s Theater after assassinating Abraham Lincoln. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, whose anti-communist witch hunts in the early 1950s destroyed many valuable careers from Washington, DC, to Hollywood, died in Bethesda Naval Hospital of cirrhosis of the liver at age 48. “McCarthy was an alcoholic, and his alcoholism explains his infamous behavior,” writes historian James Graham in Vessels of Rage, Engines of Power: The Secret History of Alcoholism.