This is a book I picked up at the library, expecting a light yet somewhat sleazy holiday read. Instead, I got a book that had been researched obvious...more This is a book I picked up at the library, expecting a light yet somewhat sleazy holiday read. Instead, I got a book that had been researched obviously over a period of years; many of the interviews were of people who had either been patients or otherwise directly involved in the events, as well as close family members of those involved.
Dr. Feelgood was the term that the Secret Service applied to Dr. Max Jacobson, a person who became involved with many celebrities and with the Kennedy White House after beginning to treat John F. Kennedy for back pain and fatigue. These treatments began after JFK's former roommate introduced the then candidate for President to Jacobson; all treatments were unnofficial and secret. Notably secret were the ingredients of the shots; Jacobson told everyone they were "vitamin shots" and at one point said "vitamins and hormones." Well not really. They were actually liquid methamphetamine in a fairly large dose (30-40 mg) combined with steroids. As Jacobson's huge ring of patients discovered, they needed more and more to maintain and some wound up self-destructing. How Jacobson kept going himself is unknown as he was also a meth addict for more than 30 years.
The book's strong points include a list of patients from Dr. Jacobson's records, with the ones who were personally interviewed for the book marked. The list of interviewees is extensive and lends authenticity to the claims of drug use and addiction. Footnotes also help clarify sources. Jacobson had many, many celebrity patients to whom he administered his miracle shots beyond JFK, including Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, Nelson Rockefeller, Winston Churchill, Jackie Kennedy, Lee Bouvier Radziwill (interviewed), Harry S. Truman, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor (interviewed), and Frank Sinatra. When you look at the list, it is shocking to think of all of these people doing meth...especially since most didn't know what they were really getting. Further bolstering the authors' claims was the interview of the two New York Times reporters who investigated Jacobson in 1972. Jacobson, apparently well into a meth induced delusion, thought he was going to be recognized and rewarded for his work and wound up telling them everything.
The background on Dr. Jacobson is fascinating, including his claim that it was his recipe for meth that the Nazis distributed in tablet form (35 million) to soldiers, sailors, and pilots of the Reich at the beginning of World War II. Jacobson was Jewish and when he fled Germany, he claimed he was forced to hand over the formula. There are some historical problems in this section, though. The authors link Kristallenacht (1938) with the Reichstag fire (1933). To link the two directly I think is faulty with the time passage between them. Also, it seems very fortuitous that Jacobson met Jung, Adler, Freud, and Albert Einstein. All in all, Jacobson's background seems so touched with celebrity as to be a product of his meth addiction and his imagination. Finally, the Kaiser was a member of the House of Hohenzollern, not Hapsburg.
Where the book really falls down is the discussion of the assassination of JFK and the bullet entry and exit wounds. This, obviously, has been highly contested for years. But it just seemed that the book should not have strayed into conclusory territory about bullet exit and entry wounds as I don't believe either author, nor any contributor, is a forensic expert in this area. I think it undercut the book's authenticity in general. It is pretty clear that the CIA had motive to get rid of JFK. This book was published in 2013 but likely well before a documentary from PBS' NOVA was aired about the assassination ("Cold Case JFK," 11/13/2013). In that documentary, two forensic pathologists, a wound ballistics researcher, and a firearms expert (among others) speak to and show compelling evidence that it could indeed have only been Lee Harvey Oswald firing and using full-metal jacket bullets. The authors are definitely entitled to their opinions but that data may have been of interest. At any rate, the CIA definitely could have hired and set up Lee Harvey Oswald for just the reasons cited in this book. I just felt the foray into the argument about bullet wounds was not supported by the rest of the book.
There are also a few editorial errors that were annoying that did not alter my rating of the book but that indicate that the editors let the authors down. On one page the last name of Bob Cummings' second-wife-to-be is spelled both Fong and Font; on another, the German Chancellor's last name is spelled both Adenauer and Asenauer. There are a couple of puntuation goofs, a problem with a bibliography entry, and some run-on sentences that desperately needed to be hacked apart. That may be nit-picky but what those errors do is make the book look unprofessional and the story not as believeable.
This is a short but shocking slice of American history. I cannot believe that there hasn't been more press about JFK having a psychotic break at The Carlyle Hotel in New York due to methamphetamine. I do really wish that the book had lived up it's unspoken celebrity promise and had discovered other "prominent" figures such as Elizabeth Taylor, Roddy McDowell, Rex Harrison, Yul Brynner, etc who are all listed as patients. This is still a short but interesting read. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the darker part of American history. (less)
Warning to all Jagger groupies: you're just another Lady Jane to him. And if you don't know what that means, you'll just have to read this book. As o...more Warning to all Jagger groupies: you're just another Lady Jane to him. And if you don't know what that means, you'll just have to read this book. As one model-girlfriend is quoted as saying "Mick is incapable of being faithful." I could say REALLY? But that would beg the question of his entire life. Christopher Andersen's credentials of contributing editor of Time, senior editor of People, and writer for The New York Times, Life, and Vanity Fair is gives him the ability to pull all the loose ends of Jagger's bizarre life into one cohesive narrative. The book is informative albeit gossipy, at times reading a little like an evil People magazine. Sex, drugs, rinse and repeat; with a little bit of blues or rock 'n roll thrown in to pay the bills.
"Mick: great guy, lousy husband[,]" is the quote from Jerry Hall that says it all. But I would quibble a bit about the "great guy" part; Andersen notes that Jagger has no problem casting off those who opened the door of fame for him without a second thought. A student of the London School of Economics, Jagger is no one's fool when it comes to promotion and money. He is reputedly worth approximately $400 million plus. Not bad for a 69 year old rock star who started out in a shared apartment that had feces smeared on the walls (his, Keith Richards', and Brian Jones').
Mick is an interesting book that moves fast at the beginning, and then slows down quite a bit. As the best Rolling Stones' songs were written before the close of the 1960's, Mick's best sinning was done before the close of the 1970's. And after Jerry Hall, Mick's conquests keep decreasing in age until he hits 16. Or was it 15? The models he was sleeping with were amazingly young. At any rate, Andersen delivers up an entertaining book that is a quick read.(less)
Religious fundamentalism was not created in the Twentieth Century. The Fatwa is not a new declaration of war. The political smear campaign is is olde...more Religious fundamentalism was not created in the Twentieth Century. The Fatwa is not a new declaration of war. The political smear campaign is is older than the Bible. But most importantly, Jezebel was framed. Lesley Hazleton does a thorough job of explaining how and why Queen Jezebel was depicted as she was in the context and psychology of her time. And times haven't changed that much, as many writers through the ages have built on the mythology of Jezebel the Harlot.
The real Jezebel was a Phoenician princess who married King Ahab of Israel in 872 B.C. to ensure peaceful relations between the two countries. She was a 15 year old who would be crowned queen consort of the polygamous king, and the only wife who was ever mentioned in the chapter of the Bible called Kings. She was polytheistic, worshipping Baal and Astarte among others, while Ahab was a monotheist who worshipped Yahweh. That Ahab showed respect and tolerance for his Queen Consort by building a temple to Astarte and allowed her priests to follow her from the city of Tyre, seems to be the beginning of all of their trouble with the prophets Elijah and Elisha. As Hazleton reveals, not only did these prophets bring about her downfall, they also brought about the downfall of Israel.
Jezebel's real name was Itha-Baal, or "woman of The Lord" in her native language. In Hebrew in the re-telling of her story, it was changed to I-zevel, or "woman of dung," and that is what has stuck. History is written by the winners, and the history that was written greatly favors the prophets Elijah and Elisha. The original conflict centers around Jezebel and Elijah, with Elijah prophesying that Jezebel "[S]hall be eaten by dogs by the walls of Jezreel." When this conflict is broken down to its basics, it's a battle between polytheism versus monotheism, between cosmopolitanism and detente versus absolutism and confrontation. The picture painted is that Elijah and Elisha are the religious terrorists of the Ninth Century B.C. and not the benevolent figures that at they have become through hundreds of years of editing (especially Elijah).
Hazleton's research and explanations of what probably did occur at the time, and what was made up as cautionary tales and included in Kings, is fascinating. One thing that is evident is that the biblical tales concerning her were written long after the events, and that numerous changes and additions were made to the saga of Kings by later writers adding in extras that aren't logical under scrutiny. I enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who wants to better understand what most likely happened to inspire the tales of the Bible and the Koran.