Emeritus Academy Lecture Series

Rolf Barth, Professor Emeritus
What Did They Really Die Of?
Rolf Barth
Department of Pathology

"What Did They Really Die Of?"

December 5, 2018
4-5 p.m.
Grand Lounge, Faculty Club

The topic of my presentation will focus on the illnesses and deaths of three historically noteworthy individuals whose deaths have been the subject of numerous articles, two of which I have written.  The first is Sun Yat-sen, the first President of the Republic of China following the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, who purportedly died of liver cancer but, based on the autopsy findings, turned out to be something else.  The second is Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union from the late 1920s until his death in March 1953, who had a massive stroke—but could he also have been “poisoned”?  The last one is Napoleon Bonaparte and his illness and death during his exile on the island of St. Helena, whose death also was attributed to poisoning, but what really was the cause of his death?  In each case, questions were raised as to the causes of their deaths but did the autopsy findings confirm what initially had been thought to be the causes?