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MARGINALIA

Cats and Rats

Roald Hoffman

Back in the USSR

The book Stalin's Last Crime: The Plot Against the Jewish Doctors, 1948–1953 (HarperCollins) has just been published by Jonathan Brent and Vladimir Naumov. Relying on a secret account of Stalin's last days in March 1953, it suggests that he might have been poisoned by . . . warfarin. Easy to make, the compound seems to have been available at the time, and Stalin's symptoms—brain hemorrhage and stomach bleeding (the latter excised from the published coroner's report)—fit. The Brent and Naumov hypothesis needs to be confirmed by further analysis, but the book, which also covers other topics implied by the subtitle, has no trouble adducing reasons (or conspirators) for poisoning the dictator.




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