Recently slated for both film and stage adaptations, El-Hai’s gripping account turns a chilling page in American history and...




Ace reportage on the unique relationship between a prison physician and one of the Third Reich’s highest ranking officials.

Profoundly expanded from an original article in Scientific American, science and historical journalist El-Hai’s (Creative Writing/Augsburg Coll.; The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness, 2005) dark exploration begins at the end: with the suicide of prominent U.S. Army psychiatrist Capt. Douglas Kelley. The author examines the origins of his depressive internal crisis: his professional association with one of the most powerful Nazi leaders, Hermann Göring. Unfussy and compelling, El-Hai’s chronicle details the intensive intercourse between the two men. Kelley was called in to perform physical and mental evaluations on the top Nazi officials awaiting arraignment in the Nuremberg tribunals, yet zeroed in on Göring. Hitler’s right-hand man presented at Nuremberg as an arrogant, plump, cutthroat “master manipulator” addicted to paracodeine. Stripped of his diamond-embossed ivory baton (a gift from Hitler), oversize gemstone rings and manifold honorifics, the prideful and charming Göring acquiesced to the general orthodoxy of Kelley’s medical assessments, including inkblot testing and apperception analyses. As suicide increasingly became a destiny of choice for several other Nazi captives, the doctor became increasingly enraptured by the domineering Göring, delving intensively into his fearlessness during his conviction and further exploring the unshakable allegiance of the Nazi personality. This obsessive research would negatively manifest itself in Kelley’s psyche for decades, ultimately facilitating his undoing. El-Hai’s spadework involved scouring Kelley’s trove of private documents, letters and clinical journals, all graciously provided by the doctor’s oldest son.

Recently slated for both film and stage adaptations, El-Hai’s gripping account turns a chilling page in American history and provides an unsettling meditation on the machinations of evil.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61039-156-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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