Library Suggestion

The Books I’ve Read Since 2013 That Were Suggested by Staff at My Local Library

Community-wide One Read selections, Facebook Friday suggestions, or in-library displays.
  1. The Trial of Fallen Angels, James Kimmel, Jr.
  2. The Ruins of Us, Keija Parssinen (One Read 2013)
  3. The Boys in the Boat, Daniel J. Brown (One Read 2014)
  4. The Great Bridge, David McCullough
  5. Station Eleven, Emily St. John Mandel (One Read 2015)
  6. Bettyville, George Hodgman (One Read 2016)
  7. The Nazi and the Psychiatrist, Jack El-Hai
  8. The Long Walk, Richard Bachman
  9. The Turner House, Angela Flournoy (One Read 2017)
  10. The Elementals, Michael McDowell

The Nazi and the Psychiatrist — Jack El-Hai


Day 1 • page 2

The House. An introduction. A crime scene. Then, a short journey back in time, to the arrest of a Nazi high commander. Good start to this book!


Day 2 • page 38

The theme of deception has developed in the first three chapters. Kelley coaxing Göring into revealing himself. Or is it the other way around?

“Long before the name psychology was on everybody’s tongue,” Kelley wrote, “magicians employed its principles under the term misdirection.”

I couldn’t imagine how Göring expected to be treated as a superior officer by the American staff where he was incarcerated. It’s as if he didn’t realize he was a prisoner of war, and that his title named him as a leader of an organization that no longer existed, making it obsolete.

[P.S. My library book smells musty.]


Day 3 • page 61

“The very air feels imprisoned,” Andrus observed with satisfaction.

The change from the Mondorf hotel to the grounds at Nuremberg may have come as a shock to the prisoners, especially seeing the once-great city broken, and turned into the place of their indefinite confinement.


Day 4 • page 106

While many of the top Nazis were little more than ambitious sociopaths who had no particular basis for disliking people of Jewish faith, some were more like what we imagine the monsters to be:

Even more than Hitler … the husky, long-winded and uncouth publisher [Julius Streicher] believed that Jews were evil and subhuman, and anti-Semitism formed the foundation of all his political beliefs.

This exchange between the book’s title characters confirmed for me what I have always thought to be the simplest explanation for any grizzly orders surviving down the chain-of-command:

Kelley replied that Americans generally regarded all top Nazis, Göring included, as Hitler’s yes-men. “That may well be,” Göring said, “but please show me a no-man in Germany who is not six feet underground today.”

Göring’s loving letter to his wife portrays him as a good guy, and an average Joe. And he probably thought he was, in many ways.


Day 5 • page 115

Gustave Gilbert arrives on the scene, and I’m wondering why they needed a psychologist at all during that stage in the game. His Rorschach retests showing some different results, but maybe they say as much about the tester as they do the tested?

In a preview to Göring’s exit, Ley takes his own life his own way, to avoid the indignity of hanging. How many of the Nazi’s victims were given a dignified death?


Day 6 • page 124

Hess’s feigned amnesia is grating on my nerves, even if Dr. Kelley is buying into it a little.

A statue of Göring in every house? I can’t swear I’d heard his name before picking up this book–I’m OK with him being nearly erased from history.


Day 7 • page 132

The trial arrives, and it sounds like a spectator sport. I suppose it was. Visions and sound bites of the OJ Simpson trial come to mind.

“If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

“Not guilty in the sense of the indictment.”


Day 8 • page 155

I struggled just reading about the post-liberation film footage shown in the courtroom, which the accused had trouble watching. But my heart ached as I learned of the last use of the ovens at Dachau, as if a sacred grave had been defiled.

Goring’s suicide, to me, was an act of cowardice that outweighs any potential slight he might have felt at being hanged. He could have stood defiantly until the very end. Instead, he sneaked out the back door of this world to avoid the judgement he brought upon himself.

I was heartbroken when I learned of the bodies of the executed being taken to Dachau, as though a sacred place had been defiled. Things like that show how retribution is only crime upon crime.


Day 9 • page 162

President Truman:

“We have high hopes that this public portrayal of the guilt of these evildoers … will bring wholesale and permanent revulsion on the part of the masses of our former enemies against war, militarism, aggression, and nations of racial superiority.”

More insight into the warped mind of the doctor, after he shipped home what I call souvenirs: “[B]ooks that their Nazi authors had signed; copies of letters he had conveyed between Hermann and Emmy Goring; a sampling of the Reichsmarschall’s paracodeine pills; X-rays of Hitler’s skull; and the wax-sealed specimens of crackers, cookies, and candies that Rudolf Hess had claimed were poisoned by his English keepers.”

Kelley’s Analysis of Hitler: Megalomania — delusions of greatness.


Day 10 • page 170

Finally, he urged his countrymen to refuse to vote for any candidate who made “political capital” of any group’s race and religious beliefs or referred indirectly or directly to the blood, heritage, or morals of opponents.


Day 11 • page 191

The darker side of Dr. Kelley gains strength, and he correctly insists that he cannot see a psychiatrist himself because it would destroy his reputation. It is a sad commentary on the stigma of seeking help for mental health. Anyone should be able to do it without being afraid of the consequences and perceptions. We’re all human.


Day12 • page 227

I couldn’t help but think that the ghost of Herman Göring was smiling wryly as Dr. Kelley slipped away.