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Giovanni Berlinguer

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 21 July 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h3980
  1. Caroline White, London
  1. cwhite{at}

Doctor, politician, and environmentalist

A eulogy published on Science Network (Scienza in rete) after the death of Giovanni Berlinguer describes him as a “doctor and hygienist by training, politician by conviction, and humanist by nature,” and as someone who “always confronted the dramatic realities of life: illness, death, war, unemployment, and deprivation.”1

Berlinguer chose to pursue a career in academic medicine, but the explanation he gave as to why he had become a politician implied that choice had had little to do with it: politics ran in the blood, starting with his grandfather Enrico, he said.

His father Mario and cousins Luigi and Sergio followed in Enrico’s footsteps, while his elder brother, Enrico junior, led the Italian Communist Party for 12 years until his death in 1984. “Everyone was involved in politics. What else could I have done? Stay cooped up at home?” he once proclaimed.

Berlinguer’s political beliefs were rooted in Marxist philosophy. He first made a name for himself as …

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