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. Normally, I would hold this post until next December or January, when people have New Year’s resolutions in mind. But I’m impatient, and I won’t…

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Dr. Douglas M. Kelley before the start of World War II

Decades after a U.S. Army psychiatrist who studied the Nazis predicted a threat to American democracy, we should remember his fears when we vote. Psychiatrist and U.S. Army Lt. Col. Douglas M. Kelley returned home in 1946 after spending six months studying the most loathsome of the captured German leaders after World War II. I…

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Oscar Wilde, photographed in New York City in 1882. (U.S. Library of Congress)

Here I present an oldie — an article I wrote 25 years ago for Minneapolis-St. Paul Magazine. It was one of my first attempts to write about history and has always remained among my favorite stories because of the unflappable character of Oscar Wilde. Note how the narrative approaches but skirts around Wilde’s homosexuality. Otherwise, I…

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Carole Lombard

Last month I wrote about the FBI’s file on the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, a post that attracted many readers. Now I’m putting up my notes on the FBI’s file on the movie actress Carole Lombard, a contemporary of Wright’s who — owing to a mysterious airplane accident — enjoyed a much shorter life. Carole LombardName at…

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A while back, I wrote about several history blogs that I enjoy reading. I promised to return with the work of more exemplary history bloggers (or in some cases teams of bloggers), and here are the results. All of these blogs share the virtues of delivering unexpected, informative, and entertaining history content. • The Literary Detective. It…

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Abraham Lincoln

Recent research suggests that the U.S. President may have suffered from this mysterious neurological disease.  For nearly twenty years, people who have a kinship to Abraham Lincoln have been gathering for reunions in Indiana, Iowa, and Kentucky – and medical researchers have been there along with them.The last known photo taken of Abraham Lincoln before…

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history hunters in Naples

My research for the book I’m currently writing, The Nazi and the Psychiatrist, relies on a large collection of medical records, letters, artifacts, and clippings that sat undisturbed for more than 60 years with the family of my subject, Douglas. M. Kelley, M.D. Without those papers — and without their long-unseen nuggets of information — my…

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Douglas Brinkley

While I was researching my book The Lobotomist, one of my most valuable resources was a lanky and slow-moving man who granted me interviews in the book-filled living room of his apartment in San Carlos, California. He was Franklin Freeman, a son of the subject of my book, the lobotomy advocate and developer Walter Freeman. In…

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