I am a writer of nonfiction books, longform narratives, podcasts, and the free monthly Damn History newsletter for writers and readers of popular history. I cover history, medicine, science, crime, and anything else that hooks me – and that I hope will hook you.

I also help physicians learn how to use creative writing to avoid stress and burnout, connect with their patients, enjoy the pleasure of creation, and enjoy the satisfaction of publishing their work.

In addition to my newest book The Lost Brothers, I have written The Nazi and the Psychiatrist, Non-Stop: A Turbulent History of Northwest Airlines, and The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness. My articles have appeared in SmithsonianThe Atlantic, GQ, Wired, Scientific American Mind, Topic, Longreads, The Washington Post Magazine, and many other publications.

Several of my nonfiction stories have been optioned for the screen and stage. I frequently give talks and lead workshops on the topics of my books as well as on the craft of nonfiction writing and the benefits of creative writing for physicians.

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Recently Published: The Lost Brothers

The dread, the drama, and the hope of a break in one of the country’s oldest active missing-child investigations

This is the story of one of the oldest known active missing-child investigations: the 1951 disappearance of the three Klein brothers in Minneapolis. An intimate portrait of a parent’s worst nightmare and its terrible toll on a family, the book is also a genuine mystery, spinning out suspense at every missed turn or potential lead, along with its hope for resolution.

Listen to Jack's interview about the book with the Garage Logic podcast. Or read about the book's background in an article written by Curt Brown of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Order The Lost Brothers

Damn History

Subscribe to Jack’s Damn History brief, which covers what's new and great in the writing and reading of popular history.

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Articles & Essays

Jack El-Hai has written more than 500 articles and essays for SmithsonianThe Atlantic, Scientific American Mind, Wired, American Heritage, The History Channel Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, Minnesota Monthly, and many other publications.

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Blog Posts

Resolutions for journalists and everyone else

In 1955, TV newsman Chet Huntley was worried about the state of journalism. He decided to try to change his own behavior. We can adapt his resolutions to change ours....

A virtual funeral changes perspective

An eminent neuroscientist died last week at the age of 95. He made important discoveries and helped countless people with complicated medical conditions.  But he died during the COVID-19 pandemic in...

The Short and Wondrous Career of Harry Glicken

When I knew Harry Glicken during the mid-1970s at Venice High School in Los Angeles, I could not imagine my classmate as a history-maker of the future. He was disheveled,...

The U.S. Vice President Who Wrote a Pop Music Hit

Barry Manilow, Van Morrison, the Four Tops, Cass Elliot, Isaac Hayes, Bing Crosby and Nat “King” Cole all owe a lot to a now obscure United States vice president and...