The Theater: Intestinal Perfidy?

At a dinner given by Britain's Royal College of Surgeons in London in 1927, the college's president, Sir Berkeley Moynihan, took aside France's Professor René Leriche to show him a unique and little-known specimen. It was a sealed glass tube containing a piece of small intestine with a hole in it. Surgeon Leriche made an on-the-spot diagnosis: perforation caused by a tropical disease. Confided Moynihan proudly: "It is Napoleon's intestine."

Leriche protested increduously that Napoleon was commonly thought to have died of stomach cancer. Just then Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, the evening's guest of honor, caught sight of the college's collection of...

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