Benjamin Svetkey
February 15, 1991 AT 05:00 AM EST

Travels With Dr. Death and Other Unusual Investigations

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Ron Rosenbaum
publisher
Viking
genre
Politics and Current Events, Pop Culture

We gave it an A

Ron Rosenbaum is the sort of journalist who makes other writers want to break their pencils. A virtuoso of the mega-magazine piece (5,000 to 10,000 words), he has a flawless prose style and idiosyncratic voice that have made him one of the most envied scribes in the business.

Travels With Dr. Death and Other Unusual Investigations won’t do anything to diminish that reputation. In fact, this collection contains some of Rosenbaum’s best work: Oswald’s Ghost (a reexamination of JFK’s assassination), The Subterranean World of the Bomb (a visit with the crew inside a Minuteman nuclear missile silo), The Last Secrets of Skull and Bones (a highly unusual account of George Bush’s undergraduate days at Yale), and a dozen other stories reprinted from various magazines.

Rosenbaum began his career in the late ’60s at The Village Voice, where he went on to cover the Nixon impeachment, and a residue of post-Watergate paranoia clings to his writing: Every one of these stories involves some sort of clandestine subculture, or secret identity, or convoluted conspiracy theory. Two of them have been published in a previous collection — but that doesn’t much matter. Part literary stylist, part investigative existentialist, Rosenbaum writes essays that remain infuriatingly perfect no matter how many times you read them.

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