“Absorbing… In the hands of a lesser writer, this construct wouldn’t work, but Mr. Jaffe pulls it off with skill and intelligence. Fascinating… a mini-history of the treatment of the mentally ill in the first half of the 20th century along with public attitudes toward mental illness.”
– Wall Street Journal
“A richly layered exploration of the thin line between wellness and madness and the extent to which our understanding of those states is sometimes a matter of perception. A Curious Madness is much more than a narrow portrait of its protagonists. It is also a wider study of their cultures and the collective spirits of their countries before and during World War II.”
– Washington Post
"Over 250 fascinated pages, A Curious Madness performs a valuable service for history buffs by figuratively exhuming Okawa from obscurity... For readers who believe the 20th century has been squeezed dry of its secrets, this book is a revelation.”
– Japan Times
"Eric Jaffe has given us an extraordinary book, at once intimate (a wrenching tale of family madness) and epic (two nations gathering themselves to fight a devastating war). While never slowing his narrative velocity, the author finds in the convergence of two very different lives an encapsulation of immense issues: When does patriotism become criminal? What does combat do to the human spirit? Can a victorious nation ever mete out just punishment to a vanquished enemy? Here is a work of the greatest significance that is as engrossing as a first-rate detective story—which, in a way, it is as well."
– Richard Snow, author of A Measureless Peril: America in the Fight for the Atlantic, the Longest Battle of WWII
“Illuminating…in stylish, effortless prose, Jaffe plumbs interesting depths—was Okawa an ‘ideological villain’ or a psychological casualty of war? Is madness contagious?”
– Daily Beast
"In Tokyo, just after World War Two, Eric Jaffe's grandfather played a small but remarkable role in what is sometimes remembered as Japan's Nuremberg Trials. In A Curious Madness, Jaffe tells the story. The book is a brave, meticulously researched and beautifully balanced account of an episode that by its very nature must always remain unaccountable."
– Jonathan Weiner, The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time, 1995 Pulitzer Prize
“Jaffe’s well-researched, engaging story touches on subjects as diverse as the roots of Okawa’s conservative nationalism and the U.S. Army’s theories and treatments for combat fatigue, but most importantly, it reveals the strange ways war can bring diverse lives together for a brief moment to change not only those individuals, but history.”
– Publishers Weekly
“Highly recommendable to readers of WWII history.”
"Travelling effortlessly between times and places, Eric Jaffe recounts the uneasy meeting of two curious minds. The story of the eccentric Japanese philosopher Okawa Shumei, a suspected war criminal and ideological mastermind behind Japan’s war mobilization in World War II, and Daniel Jaffe, a young American combat psychiatrist and the author’s grandfather who judged Okawa too mad to stand trial, provides a series of illumining, thoughtful, and at times funny insights on how we ourselves deal with our own minds and imaginations. A CURIOUS MADNESS is a powerful proof that true life is stranger, indeed more curious, than fiction."
– Eri Hotta, author of Japan 1941: Countdown to Infamy