Prisoners of Time
The Misdiagnosis of FDR’s 1921 Illness


In 1921, at age 39, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was struck by a serious illness that left his legs permanently paralyzed. FDR's illness was diagnosed by his doctors as "infantile paralysis" (paralytic polio), and that diagnosis was universally accepted.
 
Over eight decades later, Dr. Armond S. Goldman and his colleagues discovered that a very different disease - Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) - nearly unknown in the US in 1921 - was the most likely cause of FDR’s illness. A great controversy ensued, which continues to this day.
 
Prisoners of Time is a case study of how doctors can only diagnose what they know, how millions of people can accept myth as fact, and how new research can correct the historical record. Readers are invited to enjoy the intriguing story and form their own conclusions, based on the evidence presented.
 
fdr book cover  
Where can I buy Prisoners of Time?

Get the book on amazon.com

What topics are covered?

• The untold story of FDR’s near-fatal illness.
• How Eleanor Roosevelt saved FDR's life.
• Why FDR's doctors got the diagnosis wrong in 1921.
• Why the polio misdiagnosis has persisted.
• How the diagnosis was finally overturned in 2003.
• The clinical and statistical reasoning behind the discovery.
• The great controversy that resulted from the discovery.
• Why getting the diagnosis correct matters.
 
Table of Contents | Errata | 2003 JMB article

 
Intended audience:  Prisoners of Time is written for the general reading public. Any needed technical terms and statistical concepts are explained in clear English.
 
About the authors:  Armond S. Goldman, MD is a pediatrician, immunologist, and Emeritus Professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. He has many awards for his accomplishments, and has published over 100 scientific articles. His research focuses on the immune system in human milk and immunodeficiencies. Other current interests are in the history of medicine, medical ethics, medical education, and the impact of biological evolution upon human health and disease. Daniel A. Goldman, MD, MPH is a physician, epidemiologist, and software developer.
 
"Prisoners of Time is the first complete telling of FDR’s 1921 illness. This book will appeal to those interested in FDR, medical diagnosis, controversy in the sciences, or just a real-life detective story. I welcome historians, physicians and general readers to read the book and weigh the evidence for themselves." - Dr. Christopher Gardner-Thorpe, MD, FRCP, FRCPE, FACP (History Courses Director, The Worshipful Society of Apothecaries of London)
 
Daniel Goldman   - We welcome comments or questions.

 
Published 2017, by EHDP Press. 331 pages, with 54 illustrations.