The Strange Case of the Mad Professor: A True Tale of Endangered Species, Illegal Drugs, and Attempted Murder

Peter Kobel, Author
Peter Kobel. Globe Pequot/Lyons, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7627-7377-0
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-7627-9656-4
Ebook - 288 pages - 978-0-7627-9657-1
Open Ebook - 293 pages - 978-1-322-09119-8
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John Buettner-Janusch’s academic achievements were stellar (he was the chair of New York University’s anthropology department in the 1970s, and an expert on lemurs), but as journalist Kobel (Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and Triumph of Movie Culture) uncovers in this vivid tale, during his down time, the “mad professor” explored darker territory. On the surface, Buettner-Janusch—or B-J, as he was known to friends and colleagues—was a brilliant scientist and teacher, yet Kobel unearths a complex, contradictory man who lied to reach the heights of the Ivory Tower before being ousted by feds who discovered his illegal on-campus drug manufacturing operation. Although he claimed the LSD and quaaludes were for animal research, the court found him guilty of manufacturing the drugs and sentenced him to five years in prison, a punishment that B-J, when released on parole, sought to avenge by sending poisoned Valentine’s Day chocolates to the judge. Attempted murder earned him another 20 years. Ending with the disgraced scientist’s 1992 demise—behind bars—and an informed epilogue on lemurs, Kobel expertly wraps up this bizarre true crime tale. B&w photos. Agent: Martha Kaplan, Martha Kaplan Agency. (July)
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