Book Review: A Serendipitous Life

By Stephen Fuchs on Email @StephenWFuchs

“I am sitting in an easy chair in the library, listening to radio from the Metropolitan Opera, and reading The New York Times.”  This is not something you would expect to read in a letter being sent home by a German POW in America, but it is the experience that Karl Rickels had as one, and he wrote it all down in his personal memoir “A Serendipitous Life.” Rickels’ motivation for writing his book was to pass on his captivating life experiences to his family, present and future, but anyone that picks up this book will be instantly drawn in to his serendipitous life.

The story begins with a very well written background on his early childhood, which paints a picture of what life in Germany was like right before the start of WWII and then captures the struggles many families faced when the war started.  Like many young German males at that time, Karl Rickels had no choice but to join the German military.  While stationed in Africa, Rickels is captured by American forces and in his story he recounts how life was as not all that bad as a POW in America for the first few chapters of his memoir.

After the war, Rickels returns to Germany to enter medical school and eventually returns to America, with no bad feelings of his POW days, to work as a psychiatrist at the Mental Health Institute of Cherokee, Iowa.  This is where his story now changes directions to detail his career in psychiatric health and medicine with many interesting stories of his family life spread throughout.

A Serendipitous Life is filled with many enjoyable stories that will keep you entertained and often wanting more.  Don’t let the fact that it is written by a medical professional or that there is a focus on the research of early psychiatric medicines stop you from picking up this book.  It is a very well written personal memoir that will keep you engaged throughout the pages of the book.  There are a few moments in Rickels story that get into the more technical side of his medical research, but it is only a small portion of the 215 page memoir.  When you finish the book you will have a new insight to the pre-WWII German life and will see how being in the right place at the right time can lead to some unexpected fortunes. B+

Release Date: July 12, 2011
Author: Karl Rickels MD
Genre: Nonfiction (Memoir)
Publisher: Winston Crown Publishing

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Stephen Fuchs
Stephen founded German Pulse and LGBT Germany out of a passion to introduce Americans to a Germany that goes beyond beer and polka (although with enough beer he has been known to polka it up a bit). He's a coffee addict, lover of wine and good times, a hit in the kitchen and editor of TV commercials. You can follow him on Twitter (@StephenWFuchs) to find out a lot more.
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