Strange Case of the Mad Professor (Hardcover)

A True Tale of Endangered Species, Illegal Drugs, and Attempted Murder

By Peter Kobel

Lyons Press, 9780762773770, 274pp.

Publication Date: July 2, 2013

List Price: 26.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


It was one of the biggest scandals in New York University history. Professor John Buettner-Janusch, chair of the Anthropology Department, was convicted of manufacturing LSD and Quaaludes in his campus laboratory. He claimed the drugs were for an animal behavior experiment, but the jury found otherwise. B-J, as he was known, served two years in prison before being paroled, emerging to find his life and career in shambles. Four years later, he sought revenge by trying to kill the sentencing judge and others with poisoned Valentine's Day chocolates. After pleading guilty to attempted murder, he was sentenced to twenty years in prison, where he died in mysterious circumstances. But before he was infamous at NYU, B-J, a scientific luminary, had also taught at Yale and Duke. One of the world's foremost authorities on lemurs, our distant primate relatives on the remote island of Madagascar, he brought international attention to these endearing and endangered creatures. He cofounded the Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina and inspired a whole generation of scientists to study them and conservationists to save them and their habitat. His trials captured national headlines, but the mad scientist's full story has never been told--until now.

About the Author

Peter Kobel has worked as an editor at Entertainment Weekly, Saveur, ARTnews, and Premiere, and has written for the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and many others. The author of the critically acclaimed Silent Movies: The Birth of Film and the Triumph of Movie Culture, he now writes and microblogs about environmental and conservation issues. He lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

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

· Critical acclaim for Silent Movies:



New York Times

“This isn't a coffee table book, though any coffee table would be lucky to be graced by it. The excellent text manages the trick of being exhaustive without being exhausting, while the photos—and stills, and posters, and lobby cards—are enchanting.”

Wall Street Journal


“The definitive visual history of silent film.”

New York Daily News


“A handsomely designed and illustrated pictorial history of the voiceless cinema.”

Los Angeles Times


“If you ever wondered why film buffs get weak in the knees about the movies made before talkies, this book can help you understand. . . . It is beautifully designed with a dazzling array of movie stills, posters and promo material drawn from the Library of Congress' memorabilia collection.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“A ravishing, oversize, million-pound study of the silent movie era.”

Washington Post Express

“Lovingly detailed . . . An essential addition to any film or design lover's library.”  —Encore magazine