A J.F.K. Footnote
To the Editor:
A May 24 letter questions whether President John F. Kennedy had an intravenous injection of amphetamine just before meeting Nikita S. Khrushchev in Vienna in June 1961. We know from Robert Dallek’s biography, “An Unfinished Life,” that Kennedy had an injection of amphetamine 45 minutes before the meeting.
My book “In Sickness and in Power,” published this week, states that Max Jacobson (Dr. Feelgood) was asked by Kennedy before a recital in the White House by Pablo Casals in November 1961 for a repeat of the Vienna treatment. This implies that the Vienna injection was different from the normal and was administered intravenously.
Also, Dr. Hans Kraus, who did so much to improve Kennedy’s health from October 1961 to the missile crisis in 1962, was appalled that Kennedy was still having even a few amphetamine injections and told him in December 1962: “If I ever heard he took another shot, I’d make sure it was known. No president with his finger on the red button has any business taking stuff like that.”
London, May 25, 2008
The writer is a former British foreign secretary.