The Gumshoe and the Shrink: Guenther Reinhardt, Dr. Arnold Hutschnecker, and the Secret History of the 1960 Kennedy/Nixon Election

David L. Robb, Author
David L. Robb. Santa Monica, $24.95 (336p) ISBN 978-1-59580-066-4
Reviewed on: 03/05/2012
Release date: 03/01/2012
Thrice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, Robb (Operation Hollywood: How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies) investigates the seldom-told story of a bizarre detective, a skeptical shrink, and their influence on one of America's closest and most dramatic presidential elections—the 1960 race between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. This engrossing narrative shows how Guenther Reinhardt—the titular gumshoe described by former colleagues as "unbalanced" and "messed up"—exposed Nixon's secret meetings with psychotherapist Dr. Arnold Hutschnecker—a self-described pacifist who had narrowly survived a Russian firing squad in WWI—and how this discovery enabled Kennedy to pull ahead and win the presidency that would lead to his untimely death. Robb does an excellent job of exploring the candidates' bitter battle for office—one in which "both sides waged a secret war to destroy the other"—, Nixon's troubled psychology, and the myriad characters that peopled this politically and socially tumultuous era. Drawing from Reinhardt's previously confidential report (printed in an appendix) and Dr. Hutschnecker's unpublished memoirs, this is a story that will interest a wide range of readers, from political historians to fans of high-stakes intrigue. (Mar.)