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The Nazi and the Psychiatrist: Hermann Göring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley, and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII [Kindle Edition]

Jack El-Hai
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In 1945, after his capture at the end of the Second World War, Hermann Göring arrived at an American-run detention center in war-torn Luxembourg, accompanied by sixteen suitcases and a red hatbox. The suitcases contained all manner of paraphernalia: medals, gems, two cigar cutters, silk underwear, a hot water bottle, and the equivalent of $1 million in cash. Hidden in a coffee can, a set of brass vials housed glass capsules containing a clear liquid and a white precipitate: potassium cyanide. Joining Göring in the detention center were the elite of the captured Nazi regime—Grand Admiral Dönitz; armed forces commander Wilhelm Keitel and his deputy Alfred Jodl; the mentally unstable Robert Ley; the suicidal Hans Frank; the pornographic propagandist Julius Streicher—fifty-two senior Nazis in all, of whom the dominant figure was Göring.

To ensure that the villainous captives were fit for trial at Nuremberg, the US army sent an ambitious army psychiatrist, Captain Douglas M. Kelley, to supervise their mental well-being during their detention. Kelley realized he was being offered the professional opportunity of a lifetime: to discover a distinguishing trait among these arch-criminals that would mark them as psychologically different from the rest of humanity. So began a remarkable relationship between Kelley and his captors, told here for the first time with unique access to Kelley’s long-hidden papers and medical records.

Kelley’s was a hazardous quest, dangerous because against all his expectations he began to appreciate and understand some of the Nazi captives, none more so than the former Reichsmarshall, Hermann Göring. Evil had its charms.

Product Description


"Ace reportage on the unique relationship between a prison physician and one of the Third Reich's highest ranking officials... El-Hai's gripping account turns a chilling page in American history and provides an unsettling meditation on the machinations of evil."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review "Journalist El-Hai's haunting historical account raises questions about the human capacity to cause harm... In this thoroughly engaging story of the jocular master war criminal and the driven, self-aware psychiatrist, El-Hai finds no simple binary."--Publishers Weekly, starred review "Well researched and well written"--Library Journal "Jack El-Hai's biography of Army psychiatrist Douglas Kelley provides a riveting look at the top Nazis awaiting trial -- and reveals the dangerous power of intimacy with evil."--Minneapolis Star Tribune "If you liked Eichmann in Jerusalem by Hannah Arendt, try The Nazi and the Psychiatrist by Jack El-Hai."--Psychology Today "With full access to Kelley's notes on Nazi psychology, El-Hai infuses his story with the messy, compelling details of people's lives. These tug the reader inside Kelley's head for an engrossing exploration of human nature, sanity and despair."--Science News "This intimate and insightful portrait of two intersecting, outsized personalities--one an exemplar of public service and the other an avatar of evil--is as suspenseful as a classic Hitchcock film that hinges on an eerie psychological secret. Readers of The Nazi and the Psychiatrist will be riveted by Jack El-Hai's moving study of how good and evil can converge in a heightened instant and across a lifetime." -- Andrew Solomon, National Book Award-winning author of Far From the Tree "In the chilling tale of Dr. Douglas Kelley, a young U.S. Army psychiatrist and his secret evaluations of Nazi leader Hermann Goring, Jack El-Hai weaves a harrowing narrative that brilliantly probes the depths of evil... [A]n utterly fascinating book." -- Gilbert King, Pulitzer Prize--winning author of Devil in the Grove "In this little known and completely gripping story of the American psychiatrist sent to analyze Nazi leaders following their World War II capture, Jack El-Hai tells of an encounter both scientific and deeply haunting. But more than that, he tells the story of efforts to understand evil--in its most chilling human incarnation--and to overcome it in the pursuit of our better selves." -- Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner's Handbook

About the Author

Jack El-Hai is a widely-published journalist who covers history, medicine, and science, and the author of the acclaimed book The Lobotomist. He is the winner of the June Roth Memorial Award for Medical Journalism, as well as fellowships and grants from the McKnight Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, and the Center for Arts Criticism. He lives in Minneapolis.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1781 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; First Trade Paper Edition edition (10 Sept. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610391578
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610391573
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #230,251 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Appallingly Bad but Not Mad 11 Jan. 2014
By Dr Barry Clayton TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
The Nuremberg Court in 1945 contained probably the largest number of murderous misfits and outright criminals ever seen in a law court.From the end of the war strenuous efforts were made by German lawyers, doctors and other people to try to convince the world that those arraigned for trial were clinically mad.They did so in order to enable the German people to claim they had no involvement in the mass murder of Jews, the disabled, homosexuals and the mentally ill.The attempt failed then and it has singularly failed to this day despite repeated attempts to cleanse the German nation of one of the greatest crimes ever recorded.

In this excellent book the author tells how Douglas Kelley, a young US psychiatrist in the Military Intelligence Corps set out in 1945 to see if the Nazi gang were fit to stand trial.
After exhaustive tests of their personalities and mental state he concluded there was no evidence of psychiatric illness. They commited their heinous crimes fully aware of what they were doing. Only Hess was clearly mentally ill.

They were perfectly sane and responsible for their deeds. Indeed, the drug addict Goring firmly believed that one day the German people would be grateful for what had been done and erect a monument to him.

In 1995 a team of distinguished psychiatrists replicated Kelley's research and arrived at the same conclusions as he had done 50 years earlier.

This absorbing book demonstrates yet again that the perpetrators of sickening atrocities are entirely responsible for their actions, as indeed are those who willingly supported them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Start but….. 16 Feb. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was looking forward to reading this and the initial chapters did not disappoint. Unfortunately, the later ones did. The book turned out to be a biography of the psychiatrist and covered much detail on his home and professional life after WW2 which could have been summarised much more succinctly. I was actually about to give up on it when I found I was at the end (my kindle showed that I was only about 60% through the book - the rest was lengthy and detailed acknowledgements, notes, bibliography and index). This is a shame as the early chapters where he found the Nazis to be pretty ordinary people was fascinating but that was as far as it went.
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4.0 out of 5 stars nazis 2 Jun. 2014
This is the story of a young psychiatrist whoUs in 1945 was tasked with determining the psychological status of Goring and other Nazi leaders including Donitz,Reitel, Lei and Frank- 52 in all.
Using primative tests such as Rosarch and ink-blot it was decided that ll were sane and suitable for trial.
However Goring defeated justice and comitted suicide by taking a cyanide capsul hidden in a tooth.
The experiance seemed to have a severe effect on the psychiatrist who became a tyrant to his family and comitted suicide by cyanide poisoning.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking read 3 April 2014
By Lewis
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A nice little read and an insight into some of the Reich's thoughts and behaviour. A very unique insight into Naziism.
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