Dolnick, Edward 1952–
Dolnick, Edward 1952–
PERSONAL: Born 1952; married; children: two.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Publishers, 10 E. 53rd St., 7th Fl., New York, NY 10022.
CAREER: Writer. Former chief science writer at Boston Globe.
Madness on the Couch: Blaming the Victim in the Heyday of Psychoanalysis, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.
The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2005.
Articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Atlantic Monthly and New York Times Magazine.
SIDELIGHTS: Journalist Edward Dolnick's first book, Madness on the Couch: Blaming the Victim in the Heyday of Psychoanalysis, focuses on American psychiatry in the 1950s and 1960s. The author points out how the psychiatrists of the mid-twentieth century relied primarily on the psychoanalytic approach to treating patients. This methodology was developed by Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), an Austrian neurologist who theorized that repressed memories lie at the root of some mental illnesses. According to the author, this approach was used even to treat such severe psychotic illnesses as schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The reasoning behind this, writes Dolnick, is that the psychiatric community was relying on the hope that such diseases could be successfully treated if environmental factors, such as childhood abuse, could be explained as the cause of the disorders. The author discusses how this approach traumatized many families before it was abandoned in favor of pharmaceutical treatment of severe psychoses. Nevertheless, as pointed out by Mary Ann Hughes in the Library Journal, the "echoes of the period Dolnick examines still linger."
Dolnick turned his attention to a pioneering adventurer for Down the Great Unknown: John Wesley Powell's 1869 Journey of Discovery and Tragedy through the Grand Canyon. He recounts the story of Powell—who lost an arm in the U.S. Civil War—and his crew as they set out to map the great, unexplored territories of the West and pursue Powell's interest in the area's geology. As described both by Dolnick and the crew themselves through their diaries, the conditions of the expedition soon deteriorated. River rapids smashed boats, heat caused food spoilage, and the harsh desert environment made mobility on land difficult. All these factors took their toll the crew, who quickly became disenchanted with their leader. "Written with authority and zeal, this rich narrative is popular history at its best," noted a Kirkus Reviews contributor. A reviewer writing in Publishers Weekly noted that readers will "emerge battered but illuminated." Gilbert Taylor commented in Booklist that the author has written an "estimable rendition of that storied expedition" and also noted Dolnick's "well-detailed characterizations of the expedition members and their motivations and dissensions."
The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece focuses on theft in the art world as Dolnick tells the story of Charley Hill, an undercover cop who worked for Scotland Yard and once aspired to be a priest. Hill, who went on to become a private detective, specializes in recovering stolen art masterpieces. The author explains Hill's success in this area as partially being due to the detective's chameleon-like nature, which allows him to mingle effortlessly with crooks and cops, as well as with businesspeople and aristocrats. Dolnick also focuses on the 1994 theft from Norway's National Gallery in Oslo and the recovery of The Scream, a painting by Edvard Munch. As told by the author, the police were baffled by the theft, and it was Hill's expertise that eventually led to the painting's recovery. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that "the narrative's frequent detours to other crimes and engaging escapades from Hill's past elevate this work." Writing in Time, Richard Lacayo called the book an "entertaining account of the eternal struggle between high art and low cunning," while Business Week reviewer Monica Gagnier declared the effort an "engaging tour of this little-known world."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 2001, Gilbert Taylor, review of Down the Great Unknown: John Wesley Powell's 1869 Journey of Discovery and Tragedy through the Grand Canyon, p. 188.
Business Week, August 1, 2005, Monica Gagnier, review of The Rescue Artist: A True Story of Art, Thieves, and the Hunt for a Missing Masterpiece, p. 104.
Harper's, December, 2001, Guy Davenport, review of Down the Great Unknown, p. 74.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2001, review of Down the Great Unknown, p. 1260; May 15, 2005, review of The Rescue Artist, p. 574.
Library Journal, November 1, 1998, Mary Ann Hughes, review of Madness on the Couch: Blaming the Victim in the Heyday of Psychoanalysis, p. 115; October 1, 2001, John Carver Edwards, review of Down the Great Unknown, p. 120.
Newsweek International, July 11, 2005, Jason Overdorf, review of the The Rescue Artist, p. 57.
Publishers Weekly, September 10, 2001, review of Down the Great Unknown, p. 73; April 11, 2005, review of The Rescue Artist, p. 40.
Time, June 27, 2005, Richard Lacayo, "Makes You Wanna Holler: An Account of the 1994 Theft of The Scream Examines the Lowbrow World of High-Art Thievery," p. 71.
Straight.com, http://www.straight.com/, (October 1, 2005) Alexander Varty, review of The Rescue Artist.