American Odyssey: Letters & Journals, 1940-1947

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American Odyssey : Letters & Journals, 1940-1947

You can see the index here. Strangely, much of that information is clouded over by prejudice and ignorance. Reich's ideas can speak for themselves and allow the reader to come to her own conclusion regarding the work of Reich. If you would like a good online summary of his life, go here for a concise biography.

American Odyssey: Letters & Journals, by Wilhelm Reich

There have been numerous biographies written about Dr. One of the best is written by a former colleague of his, Dr.

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This is a wonderful book with insights into how he was developing his new discoveries during the exceptionally productive period of time after his arrival in the USA. But these were years of fierce struggle as well: the denial of an American medical license, the refusal of a patent on the orgone accumulator, and, finally, a slanderous article that would incite the Food and Drug Administration to the dogged attack on Reich that would continue until his death in another prison cell ten years later. American Odyssey reveals more than a period in the life of an embattled scientist.

It discloses the social and intellectual life of a country in a tumultuous time in history.

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Orgone is "the life energy and what people experience as 'God,' who is everywhere and is life and creates life," he wrote. He emerges as arrogant, judgmental, lucid, charming or megalomaniacal. He expresses contempt for people in general: "This crop of human beings is the vilest bunch life has yet spawned," yet on the same page he aches for human contact.

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In the late '40s, Reich started to become famous in certain circles. His books were selling well, the New School for Social Research was offering a class on his work and stories about him were beginning to appear in the mainstream press. As his popularity grew, so did his paranoia. Of course, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. In May , the New Republic published a savage attack on Reich, dismissing him as a dangerous quack. This brought him to the attention of the U.

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Food and Drug Administration. By book's end, the forces arrayed against him already portend the burning of his books and his early death in a federal penitentiary.


But what are we to make of this extraordinary man? Was he a wacko?

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Or, years from now, will people say he was so far ahead of his time that he had to be killed? It boils down to the existence or nonexistence of orgone energy. If it's there, we have to look seriously at all of Reich's theories. If it isn't, well, he's one more nut case that's fun to read about.