M.A., California School of Professional Psychology
M.A., Georgetown University
B.A., Marlboro College
Arthur J. Magida has recently started his latest book – Two Wheels to Freedom, the true story of a Jewish forger who biked through Nazi Germany to freedom in Switzerland in 1943, and the beautiful Jewish collaborator who refused to betray him.
Magida's previous book, The Nazi Séance (Macmillan) -- a biography of Erik Jan Hanussen, aka "Hitler's Jewish clairvoyant" -- meditates on the power of wonder and magic while chronicling how Hanussen cemented an alliance that morally and historically makes little sense. The Nazi Séance also addresses a certain type of "magical thinking" in which "no one was more magical than Hitler, though an ambitious, ridiculously naïve Jew proffered his own 'magic' to the masses, believing that if Hitler was the new God, he would be his favored prophet."
Hanussen assumed he could manipulate some of the more incendiary personalities of his time just as he had manipulated his fans. He turned his occult newspaper into a Nazi propaganda rag, outfitted Storm Troopers based in Berlin, personally assured Hitler that the stars were aligned in his favor and predicted at a star-studded séance the infamous Reichstag Fire. Hanussen paid for this with his life: the Nazis killed him in March 1933.
Praise for The Nazi Séance includes:
Magida's Opening the Doors of Wonder addresses variety of religions – bar/bat mitzvahs, confirmations, baptisms, Hindus' sacred thread ceremonies, Muslims' shahada, Buddhists' jukai. Opening the Doors explains their underlying theologies, their elements, how they evolved and how they actually affect people and includes interviews with Deepak Chopra, Elie Wiesel, Ram Dass, Roz Chast, Chinua Achebe, Robert Thurman and Yusuf Islam (the former Cat Stevens). Comments about Opening the Doors of Wonder include:
The Rabbi and The Hit Man
, the true story of a New Jersey rabbi given life imprisonment for hiring a hit man to kill his wife, was praised for "compelling, "measured," "stately" tone and its "dense, yet tight pacing... that reads like a top-notch crime novel." One critic deemed the book "required reading in all seminaries." Magida has been a consultant for several TV documentaries based on The Rabbi and The Hit Man.
Prophet of Rage: A Life of Louis Farrakhan and His Nation also received critical acclaim: "A key biography of perhaps the most flamboyant African American leader of our time."(The San Francisco Chronicle); "Perceptive, balanced, and vividly evocative..." (The Washington Post). Magida also wrote the two-volume set, How To Be a Perfect Stranger: A Guide to Etiquette in Other People's Religious Ceremonies , and The Environment Committees, a study of environmental politics commissioned by Ralph Nader.
A professor at Georgetown University, writer-in-residence at the University of Baltimore and consultant to a two-hour PBS film on "forgiveness," Magida has been a columnist for the on-line religion magazine, Beliefnet.com; a contributing correspondent to PBS's "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly;" a consultant to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; editorial director of Jewish Lights Publishing, which specializes in books on religion/spirituality; senior editor of the Baltimore Jewish Times; environmental reporter for National Journal; writer/editor for Ralph Nader; director of publications for an energy conservation project; and a reporter for two Pennsylvania newspapers.
Magida's op-eds have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Times, The Hartford Courant, The Houston Chronicle, The Baltimore Sun, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and he has free-lanced for TomPaine.com, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, The Jerusalem Report, Tikkun, plus The New York Times, Boston Globe, Geo, Islands and Historic Preservation magazines. His work appears in several anthologies.
Magida is listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Religion, Who's Who in the East and International Authors and Writers Who's Who. He has appeared on Dateline, the CBS Early Show, Court TV's "Catherine Crier Live," "The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour," ABC's "World News Tonight," C-Span's "Booknotes," NPR's "Morning Edition" and an A&E documentary. He has received 16 Simon Rockower Awards from the American Jewish Press Association; five A.D. Emmart Awards for writing on the humanities; two Smolar Awards for Excellence in Jewish Journalism; two National Mass Media Certificates of Recognition from the National Conference of Christians and Jews. The Fund for Investigative Journalism and The Dick Goldensohn Fund have supported his work. He has spoken at colleges and civic and religious groups around the country, from Nantucket to Los Angeles, from Sag Harbor to San Francisco, from the 92nd Street Y in New York, to the Anti-Defamation League, to an international convention of the Psychic Entertainers Association.