Breaking news: I have recently published two longform narrative articles that break new ground in popular history.

The first, "The Case of the Autographed Corpse," appears in Smithsonian magazine and tells the true tale of an unusual partnership between Erle Stanley Gardner, author of the Perry Mason mystery novels, and Silas John Edwards, a White Mountain Apache medicine man. In 1933 Edwards was wrongfully convicted of the murder of his wife on the Fort Apache reservation, and twenty years later the two men worked together to achieve Edwards' release from prison.

The other article, "Comrades, We've Been Screwed!," describes an important and little-known intersection of African-American and Russian history. Published by The Sunday Long Read, it tells how the lives of 22 young Black Americans changed after they traveled to the USSR in 1932 to star in a Soviet film about racism in the US. The group's members – including Langston Hughes, Dorothy West, and Louise Thompson – were deeply influenced by the unexpected events of their stay in Russia and went on to distinguished careers in literature, social activism, civil rights, the law, and other fields.

I write books, essays, and articles on history, medicine, science, and crime. 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 The 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.

Divider line

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.

Divider line

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.

Divider line

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...