Media haven’t made a big fuss about the new book Dr. Feelgood, perhaps for a number of reasons. After all, among the doctor’s most dedicated patients were the 35th president of the U.S. and the First Lady.
Did President John F. Kennedy and quirky celebs like artist Andy Warhol know what Dr. Feelgood, whose real name was Max Jacobson, was really doing with the pharmaceutical cocktail he presented as “an energy formula”?
JFK wasn’t the only U.S. president to seek treatment from Jacobson. Presidents Harry Truman, a Democrat, and Richard Nixon, a Republican, were also listed in office records as Dr. Feelgood’s patients.
Those elite names are but one reason the new book weaves a riveting tale of power, wealth and various falls from grace.
Authors Richard A. Lertzman and William J. Birnes provide a biography of the physician whose life began in a small village on the Polish border. Their book provides a number of anecdotes suggesting JFK’s ability wasn’t quite what it seemed as he navigated crises abroad and at home. Most familiar with the body of works on JFK already know the charismatic young president had serious health problems and found himself almost overwhelmed by the demands of the U.S. presidency his father helped him obtain.
Much of the Kennedy myth was obliterated by Seymour Hersh’s groundbreaking book The Dark Side of Camelot.
More recently, the remarkably detailed Mary’s Mosaic by Peter Janney finished off whatever was left of Camelot.
Lertzman and Birnes recount how Dr. Feelgood assisted JFK as he prepared to debate Richard Nixon. That debate is iconic now, because Nixon was actually believed to be the stronger debater yet he lost to an upstart who certainly wasn’t an intellectual heavyweight. The doctor gave JFK an injection directly into his throat and the American public had no idea the drugs helped Kennedy shine.
Those same drugs also led Kennedy to march around a hotel stark naked said the authors.
The book explains how the impact of Dr. Feelgood’s “energy formula” actually led to the official War on Drugs, one of the most expensive, unjust and ineffective programs taxpayers have funded in modern times.
The authors wrote:
"Starting in the 1940s, usage of amphetamine tablets or Benzedrine by actors and singers to enhance their energy was common, and the drugs were available over the counter...Many actors used different forms of amphetamine, but Jacobson really took what would become known as 'speed' to a whole new level." 
As you read books like Dr. Feelgood, you’ll marvel at how well Democrats colluded with media to present one image to the public while a sordid tale played out behind the scenes. The only positive that came out of the abuse of methamphetamine in the 1960s might not be viewed as a positive by everyone—the proliferation of usage of legal drugs like Adderall which contain amphetamines.
Media haven’t given Dr. Feelgood much attention, an unspoken statement about media’s incestuous kinship with Democrats in power. I highly recommend it as a great summer read and a permanent addition to your library.
The authors conducted many first person interviews, and with one very small but unimportant exception, the sources are very credible.
(Review by Kay B. Day/June 18, 2013)
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