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)
**SPOILERS** This is a nightmare case: three children die horribly and three teenagers are sent to prison for life, one on death row. It's also a nig...more **SPOILERS** This is a nightmare case: three children die horribly and three teenagers are sent to prison for life, one on death row. It's also a nightmare because of the incompetence and bad behavior (coerced confession from a teenager with a 72 IQ) of the local police; prosecutorial misconduct; judicial misconduct and bad rulings; and crazy, violent step-parents of some of the murder victims.
I went from cringing at the violence of the three eight-year-old's deaths to cringing at the local police's mishandling of their bodies, destroying evidence. Police yell and scream at teenagers to coerce a confession, and then to get corroborating statements in scenes that come right from film noir. The police lose evidence of one potential suspect, and deliberately ignore another because he is a drug informant. A juvenile officer with a wild imagination, a penchant for lying, and a talent for embezzlement whips the community AND law enforcement into a Satanism "froth." The medical examiner withholds information until the second trial without telling anyone. The prosecutors meet with the judge and discuss trial strategy without the defense knowing about it. The judge makes rulings at trial that I doubt state supreme courts in any other state would uphold. And it goes on and on. There is so much that went wrong or was done wrong it's hard to believe that this isn't a novel instead of a highly researched and end-noted journalistic exposé.
The writing style is as smooth as the subject matter will allow; it's difficult to have a flowing narrative when you are constantly flipping to the end notes. But you have to read the end notes; every contention is backed up with the source material, as well as additional information. Sometimes the end notes were very enlightening. Leveritt never indicates who you should think is the murderer, but it became very clear to me that the police had had the murderer in front of them all the time; they questioned him apologetically and let him go.
This is a book that shows how the justice system can really fail everybody. When you convict the wrong person for a murder, the murderer remains at large to kill again. You haven't done ANYBODY any favors by getting a conviction for "closure." Although there have been HBO documentaries made about this case, a motion picture has recently been made with the same name as this book, "Devil's Knot." I recommend this book to anyone who wants to read about crime and the legal system.(less)
A revealing look at Minnesota history, Scott Berg's work is a true eye opener as to the reality behind the events of the Dakota War and all of the fa...more A revealing look at Minnesota history, Scott Berg's work is a true eye opener as to the reality behind the events of the Dakota War and all of the famous names associated with it. As the old saw goes,"[H]istory is written by the victors." However in this case, Berg does a great job of presenting the view of events from all sides through an extensive knowledge of the people and places involved. I was absolutely stunned by the breadth and depth of his research of an enormous series of intertwined events.
This book goes well beyond simple historical finger-pointing as to the events leading up to the first clash in this war, and explains how Abraham Lincoln's background may have shaped how he handled it while being in the midst of the bloody Civil War. There is significant background included about the native tribes, Abraham Lincoln and his family, and all of the main characters involved whether in Minnesota, in Washington D.C., or on the battlefields of the East. With this detailed background information, it is much easier to understand many of the actions taken during this time (1862, and the aftermath reaching to 1864 and later).
This is one of the most detailed history books I have read in a long time; it is not for the faint of heart or for the casually interested. All of the concentric circles of history that Berg links together create an intricate exploration of 19th Century Native American, political, and military figures. Berg's conversational tone and clear writing, however, make it the type of book that once you figure out what's going on, you have to keep reading. This is also a must-read for those interested in history who live in or around Minnesota, or who have, and want to know what really happened. There are no soothing tones of Dave Moore's voice discussing past architecture and events as in "Lost Twin Cities," nor the all-too-perfect recountings of figures such as Henry Sibley, Alexander Ramsey, or William Mayo in other local history productions. Sibley, Ramsey, Mayo, and Alexis Bailly are four locally well-known names; Berg pulls no punches and reports both the bad actions (quite a few) and the good (not nearly enough) of these well-known Minnesotans. (Mayo, a doctor, was involved in the grave-robbing of the 38 executed men* and kept the bones of Cut Nose for many years in a cast-iron rendering pot to use for lessons in osteology for his sons, founders of the Mayo Clinic; they later put the bones on display in their new clinic. Bailly kept slaves and young mixed-blood Native American servants which his wife beat "...to keep the household running smoothly.") Berg further recounts the actions of Civil War Generals Pope, McClellan, and Hooker and paints a remarkable portrait of each that at times includes stunning incompetence and irresponsibility. (Pope's reporting of the Dakota War to Lincoln transcends irresponsibility as all-out lying.)
This is an excellent book that I was recommending to others while I was in the middle of reading it. I feel well-prepared to read other history books on any of a number of specific topics relating to 1850's-60's Minnesota.
*Grave-robbing was something that many physicians of the 19th Century participated in, not only to get cadavers for dissection and learning, but also to get a skeleton for the explanation of diagnoses to patients. But it doesn't make it any less shocking that a name as big as Mayo became, dug up, stole, and desecrated one of these bodies, does it?
Dr. Tabor's four decades of research about Paul and his role in the development of Christianity has resulted in this, his latest well-researched work...more Dr. Tabor's four decades of research about Paul and his role in the development of Christianity has resulted in this, his latest well-researched work. The main portion of this book is divided into nine sections that logically present Tabor's research and his arguments: Paul not only departed vividly from the teachings of Jesus and the original Twelve Apostles, but his later and completely independent interpretation of the message of Jesus actually superceded the teachings of Jesus in the surviving Christian faith.
According to the evidence presented by Tabor, Paul never actually met Jesus, but instead proceeded to teach his (Paul's) gospel after having visions of Jesus talking to him seven years after the crucifixion. Further, Paul was never "made" an apostle by the surviving Apostles as led by James, the brother of Jesus. The closest he came was what appears to be a "live and let live" agreement between him and the original Apostles (who were still spreading the teachings of Jesus amongst the Jewish population) that Paul could continue to preach in the name of Jesus to the Gentiles. Paul believed he was chosen by God to do this before he was born, so he thought his gospel was superior to that of the Twelve Apostles'. He also held the belief that Jesus had been sent to carry out the first part of God's plan and he had been sent to carry out the second part, and exhorted followers to be like him. There was an innate conflict between what Paul preached (without learning first from the living Jesus or the Twelve Apostles) and what the remaining Apostles would continue to preach in Jesus' name. The differences were and are staggering.
The Christian beliefs that were affected go to the core of the religion. The beliefs surrounding the Eucharist, whether blood and body are being consumed or if it is the Jewish ritual of blessing for bread and wine; baptism, whether it is when the seed of the Holy Spirit is implanted or if it is the traditional water purification ritual of the Jewish faith. The resurrection of the dead: is it in a reformed body from the sleep of the dead, or in a glorious new spiritual body that is apparently neither male nor female, as according to Paul. These are only examples; Paul believed that the revelations he received from his visions of the heavenly Christ were far superior to any of the teachings of the earthly Jesus. When Paul proceeded to preach to the Gentiles, it was his version that was heard and remembered. Tabor brings in other writers and accounts contemporaneous to Paul for a cross-analysis; what emerges is the likelihood that these other sources that are in the background of Church may be closer in tone to Jesus' message than the current core beliefs of Christianity. Because of the thoroughness of Dr. Tabor's work, his conclusions become far more than a hypothesis or argument. Although the subject matter is very detailed, I found Dr. Tabor's writing style to be very readable and the evidence presented believable. (less)