A First-Rate Madness - Nassir Ghaemi

A First-Rate Madness

By Nassir Ghaemi

  • Release Date: 2011-08-04
  • Genre: Political Science
Score: 3.5
From 50 Ratings


The New York Times bestseller

“A glistening psychological history, faceted largely by the biographies of eight famous leaders . . .” —The Boston Globe

“A provocative thesis . . . Ghaemi’s book deserves high marks for original thinking.” —The Washington Post

“Provocative, fascinating.” —Salon.com

Historians have long puzzled over the apparent mental instability of great and terrible leaders alike: Napoleon, Lincoln, Churchill, Hitler, and others. In A First-Rate Madness, Nassir Ghaemi, director of the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts Medical Center, offers a myth-shattering exploration of the powerful connections between mental illness and leadership and sets forth a controversial, compelling thesis: The very qualities that mark those with mood disorders also make for the best leaders in times of crisis. From the importance of Lincoln's "depressive realism" to the lackluster leadership of exceedingly sane men as Neville Chamberlain, A First-Rate Madness overturns many of our most cherished perceptions about greatness and the mind.


  • Worthwhile Read

    A most interesting read. I believe the author is on to something quite important. Much work remains to be done to further document and demonstrate the accuracy of the hypothesis but it is a very important and valuable start. If accurate, then the ultimate challenge is whether in today's world, where everyone knows the smallest detail about individuals in the public eye, will it ever be possible to have a leader with an illness due to the stigma. Very troubling consideration and ultimately one of the last areas for discrimination.
  • Interesting thesis, tedious manuscript

    By scottparkhill
    Great ideas, just a boring read after the first few chapters. I just do not see how such a high percentage of readers gives this book five stars.