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The Short and Wondrous Career of Harry Glicken

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, wore unstylish clothing over his gaunt frame, and had trouble keeping his glasses straight. He spoke in a rush and loved to argue. But to…

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

Charles Dawes

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 Nobel Peace Prize winner named Charles Dawes. Those musical artists, as well as dozens of others, recorded a song that the American statesman dashed off…

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The Black Stork: A physician’s cinematic argument for eugenics

Black Stork

This year marks the centennial of one of the most infamous movies of the silent era, which made a case for allowing disabled infants to die and sparked a national debate between 1917 and the late 1920s before sinking into obscurity. Along the way, The Black Stork rocketed a physician to fame and symbolized America’s conflicted attitude…

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America’s First Pop Psychologist

Joseph Jastrow

When Joseph Jastrow died in 1944 at age 80, he was almost a forgotten figure in American psychology and certainly an irrelevant one to many minds. Decades earlier he had given up full-time work in academe, and his most recent writing, an analysis of the psychology of Adolf Hitler, had been ignored. Yet for many…

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Is There Any Truth to Truth Serum?

bottle of Amytal Sodium

Remember the routine from black and white espionage dramas of the 1940s and ‘50s? The bad guys detain a suspected spy, who won’t talk even after a rough interrogation. Soon, after receiving an injection of a colorless liquid, he’s muttering uncontrollably, spilling the details of an entire network of agents. The truth serum has done…

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The Nazi Brain Removal Caper

After the end of World War II, a Nazi leader dies in Allied custody under strange circumstances. An American military psychiatrist longs to prove his pet theory by having the Nazi’s brain removed from the body and examined. With help from a friend, the psychiatrist succeeds in extracting the organ and smuggling it out of…

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Does your company operate like the Third Reich?

assembly of Third Reich

When I wrote my book The Nazi and the Psychiatrist: Hermann Göring, Douglas M. Kelley, and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII (PublicAffairs Books), which is about an American psychiatrist’s involvement with the Nazi leaders and the consequences of his experience, I was surprised to learn how the physician’s insights into the leadership structure…

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Fighting the Legend of the “Lobotomobile”

Walter Freeman (right) performing a lobotomy with his surgical partner James Watts

Many people believe that the developer of the most dreaded form of psychiatric surgery traveled America in a camper van that he slyly called his “lobotomobile.” It’s a myth.  I often receive emails from middle school and high school students working on projects about the history of lobotomy, a now obsolete but once mainstream form…

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Getting Started as a Writer of History

computer and research papers on a desk

Journalism is the first rough draft of history, Alan Barth declared. Or is it the reverse, that history is just journalism, as Joseph Campbell mischievously asserted? Either way, there’s much in common between writing journalism and chronicling history, and I’ve spent my career exploring the overlap of those two great disciplines.  I’m always surprised to…

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The attack of the leopard frogs

poster or "Invasion of the Leopard Frogs"

My new Discover Magazine article about the massive Oconto frog invasion of 1952 is currently behind a paywall, but here’s a teaser. References (3) References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article. Response: Coaching em Curitibaby Quantika Coaching at Quantika Coaching on December 5, 2018Consultoria Coaching em…

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