First Review!

"In a riveting narrative that is as exciting as a well-crafted novel… Sidney Kirkpatrick… paces his book about the case of the vanishing jewels with such skill that it grabs readers by the scruff of the neck and does not let go until the very last page."

Larry Cox, King Features

Read the Entire Review:

During the Nazi march across Europe, thousands of priceless artworks and antiquities were systematically looted, including the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire. The Crown Jewels were especially important because of the significance they had with the German people and the fact that the Nazis used the collection to legitimize their barbaric regime.

At the end of World War II, Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and George S. Patton became aware that the Crown Jewels had vanished from top-secret bunkers carved deep into the bedrock beneath Nuremberg castle. Realizing the possibility that the missing jewels could be used as potent weapons if they landed in the hands of unrepentant Nazis, the two generals ordered Lt. Walter Horn to track down and secure the missing loot. Horn, a German-born American and a professor of art history at the University of California, was given a mere three weeks to accomplish this almost impossible task.

Lt. Horn realized the daunting challenge given to him, especially since his search would begin in Nuremberg, a war-torn city that was being prepared for the war crime tribunals. Despite his misgivings, he began by searching the bunker for clues. He eventually zeroed in on two city councilmen who had strong connections to the Nazi government.

In a riveting narrative that is as exciting as a well-crafted novel, Hitler's Holy Relics documents how Lt. Horn unravels one of history's most notorious art thefts. Sidney Kirkpatrick, the critically acclaimed author of "Cast of Killers" and a frequent contributor to HBO, the History Channel and the Discovery Channel, paces his book about the case of the vanishing jewels with such skill that it grabs readers by the scruff of the neck and does not let go until the very last page.

(c) 2010 King Features Synd., Inc. Reviewed by Larry Cox

One doesn’t associate Adolf Hitler with holy relics. How did this come to be?

One can either declare Hitler and his inner circle certifiably insane and be done with the matter, as many historians have done, or one could, with difficulty, trace the evolution of Hitler’s monstrous agenda point by point, from the rantings of a political dissident in a Munich beer hall to the death camps. I’ve tried to connect the dots. In Hitler’s Holy Relics, readers get a picture window into the mind of this madman, and can follow, point by point, how the failed Vienna art student and former choirboy developed a profound obsession with Christian mysticism and the Holy Roman Emperors, and more important, how, in building the Third Reich, he sought to create a ‘Holy Reich.’ Most writers wouldn’t have the temerity to put the words Holy and Reich together. At least no self-respecting Christian would put them together, and it wasn’t what came to my mind before I read Horn’s reports. But it’s not such a mental leap as you might expect. The Nazis actually created their own bible, complete with an Aryan Jesus. A Catholic priest edited Mien Kampf. Hymnals and rosaries were found along with children’s toys in the gated compounds where death-camp clerks and crematorium supervisors lived with their families. And among Himmler’s corps of Aryan scholars were prominent theologians, historians, and scientists, who traveled the world collecting all manner of religious art and manuscripts. Possession of the Holy Lance and Holy Roman Empire Crown Jewels might have actually been, in Hitler’s mind, a means to justify his quest, like Charlemagne before him, to conquer the Western world. This could also explain why Hitler believed he had the authority to commit the atrocities for which his henchmen would stand trial in Nuremberg. There can be no greater distortion of power than one man, the leader of a nation, believing that his or her authority comes directly from God.

How does Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis figure into your story?

This was the book that she wanted written when she was an editor at Doubleday, but due to the ill-health of Walter Horn, the book never got beyond the planning stages. Caroline Kennedy, when she was working for the Metropolitan Museum, brought the subject to her mother’s attention. I am the grateful recipient of their collaboration as I have drawn on the extensive oral interviews that were conducted in anticipation of the earlier book being written.

How I Came to Write This Book

My initial interest wasn’t in General Patton and Heinrich Himmler, but with the holy relic known as the Spear of Destiny, the spear-point that a Roman centurion was said to have used to pierce Christ at the Crucifixion. I was fascinated by how this relic has been venerated over the centuries, that it wasn’t property of the church, as is the Shroud of Turin and most other holy relics, and how world monarchs, from Constantine to Napoleon, and finally Hitler, coveted the artifact. The challenge was how to tell the story in a compelling and personal way. How to humanize the story. I’m not a medievalist, and even if I had the credentials to tackle the subject, the documentary record doesn’t reveal what Constantine and Charlemagne and Napoleon really thought about the Holy Lance, or why they, and so many other world monarchs, went to such lengths to lay claim to it. Did they really believe in the spear’s alleged mystical power, or was possession of the artifact and the greater collection Holy Roman Empire Crown Jewels merely a matter of political expediency? Every emperor must have his crown, and spear too, perhaps. So I had given up on the idea of telling this story. Then, while I was digging through some boxes of recently declassified reports in the National Archives, in College Park, Maryland, I happened upon a report by Lieutenant Walter Horn. He turned out to be the officer who had been plucked out of the ranks and sent on the mission to Nuremberg, Germany to lay claim to the Spear and the other Crown Jewels on behalf of Generals Patton and Eisenhower and the Allied Army. As it turned out, a neighbor of the Horn family was a big fan of my Edgar Cayce book. She was also the best friend of Walter Horn’s widow. The rest naturally fell into place. I had a great story, and thanks to the support of the Horn family, I had my own treasure trove of material to write it. A Pandora’s Box, really.

The Question I'm Asked the Most

Many of my readers have pointed out the fact that I’ve written books on a wide variety of topics which range from biographies of American psychic Edgar Cayce and artist Thomas Eakins to a true crime thriller about Peruvian archaeology, and now a book about Nazi mysticism and plunder. The truth is, I can’t resist a good story. That’s what all my books have in common. They’re about ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. In A Cast of Killers, we follow the footsteps of an aging film director, King Vidor, scrambling to stay in the movie business, who is compelled by unusual circumstances to solve a forty-five-year-old Hollywood murder. Turning the Tide is about a disillusioned marine biologist on a small Caribbean island who finds himself swimming with the kinds of sharks who pilot fast planes between Medellin and Miami; Lords of Sipan is about an archaeologist searching for evidence of what his colleagues believe to be a fantasy; Edgar Cayce and Thomas Eakins, though they possessed very remarkable talents, were basically two extraordinarily ordinary men who found themselves at odds with the world around them. The back-drop for Hitler’s Holy Relics is Nazi mysticism and plunder, but the compelling story belongs to Walter Horn, a medieval art historian who fled Nazi Germany only to find himself in Patton’s U.S. Third Army marching back to the Fatherland. Like King Vidor in A Cast of Killers, the past comes back to haunt him in a very unique and highly dramatic way.

Coast to Coast AM

I'm thrilled to be discussing Hitler's Holy Relics with Ian Punnett on Coast to Coast AM this Saturday night, May 15. Please tune in at 11 pm. Pacific Time, and 2 am. East Coast Time.

Sidney Kirkpatrick in San Francisco to honor Walter Horn

The San Francisco leg of my Hitler’s Holy Relics book tour has been a smashing success. I am most grateful to Chris Hallett, the new chair of U.C. Berkeley’s Department of History of Art, for arranging for me and medieval art historian Beate Fricke to honor Dr. Walter Horn at an event at the Doe Library on April 28. Among the many guests were Peter Selz, the distinguished art historian of German Expressionism, several of Walter’s children and grandchildren, and a very large and enthusiastic contingent of former colleagues, students and friends. Among Walter’s many intimates I had the pleasure of visiting on this trip was Bernard M. Rosenthal, the Berkeley antiquarian book dealer who provided me so much help while writing Hitler’s Holy Relics. This candid snap was taken of the two of us on April 19, at the SF Club’s “The Family,” at Barney’s grand 90th birthday party celebration, which was organized by John Crichton.

The Book Has Arrived on my Doorstep

The first copies of Hitler’s Holy Relics have arrived on my doorstep. I’m excited—the book looks great. A day to celebrate. I’m especially looking forward to the reaction from my eighteen-year-old son Alexander when he discovers that I’ve dedicated the book to him. Like his older brother Nicholas, he has grown up in a literary family and tends to take the writing and publishing business for granted. That’s all they’ve ever seen me doing—toiling away behind a keyboard, and their aunt, author Katherine Kirkpatrick, included them in her dedication in her first book, Redcoats and Petticoats, published in 1999. Hitler’s Holy Relics, however, has engaged them personally. Alexander took time out from his junior year in high school to accompany my wife and me to Germany and Austria to do the research. Alexander was a loyal and helpful foot-soldier—exploring Nuremberg’s underground bunkers, joining us on interviews with Wehrmacht veterans, digging through archives, and spending a sleepless night in Heinrich Himmler’s castle in Wewelsburg. I’m proud to dedicate this book to Alexander, soon to be a freshman at Bard. And I’m equally proud that the author photo on the dust jacket was shot by his brother Nicholas, a college senior at Corcoran, who is interning at the Washington Post.

Audio Excerpt

Listen to an audio excerpt of the forthcoming Hitler's Holy Relics!

Hitler's Holy Relics Release

I’m pleased to announce that it is only days away from the publication of my most recent book, Hitler’s Holy Relics, a True Story of Nazi Plunder and the Race to Recover the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire, which will be released by Simon and Schuster on May 11, 2010.

In this, my latest true-crime thriller, readers can follow the footsteps of First Lieutenant Walter Horn, whom Generals Patton and Eisenhower pulled from the ranks of the U.S. Third Army and sent to Nuremberg, Germany on a mission to recover and secure the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire, a collection of holy relics Hitler plundered from the Austrian treasury in March 1938. As knowledgeable readers will know, this priceless collection of ancient treasures include the Holy Lance or Spear of Destiny, the spear-point that Roman centurion Longinus was alleged to have used to pierce the side of Christ at the Crucifixion.

I’ve already posted background materials and an interview which describes how I came to write this book—my sixth—along with the first of five short mini-documentaries I’ve made on the subject. In this first mini-doc, compiled from motion-picture footage from the National Archives, in College Park, Maryland, is film which was shot by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1946 that has never before been broadcast or made available on the internet. The actual Army Corps of Engineers film can from which I retrieved this footage was rusted closed and sealed when I found it. I had to use my pen-knife to pry it open. The footage was in very poor shape; you’ll note the deterioration at the edges of the screen. It is, however, remarkable in just about every way.

In the days ahead I’ll be posting four other mini-docs with original movie footage on subjects I cover in the book—ranging from Heinrich Himmler’s secret bunker under Nuremberg Castle to his Wewelsburg castle fortress. I’ll also be giving lectures in various cities around the country, so keep an eye on my calendar to see my upcoming tour dates. I’ll be pleased to meet you in person and share with you details of what I’ve found in my research and how I found it.

Pre Order Hitler's Holy Relics HERE

Part 1: Hitler's Holy Relics Video

Hitler's Holy Relics

I'm pleased to announce the publication date for my new book, Hitler’s Holy Relics, a True Story of Nazi Plunder and the Race to Recover the Crown Jewels of the Holy Roman Empire, which will be published by Simon and Schuster in May 2010.

In this true Indiana Jones-like adventure, an American art historian turned Army sleuth races to stay one step ahead of Nazi agents who have absconded with the sacred symbols of Hitler's "Thousand Year Reich." How I found and researched this World War II era true crime story will be the subject of new postings each month until the book's release.

I'm looking forward to sharing this story with you, along with some of the recently discovered and previously unpublished documents, photos, and movie footage that I unearthed while researching this book.

About the Author

Books and book publishing have long been an important part of life in the Kirkpatrick family. My grandfather and namesake was a senior editor at McGraw-Hill for thirty-five years. My mother, Audrey Kirkpatrick, was a short story writer, and studied under Vladimir Nabokov at Cornell University. Katherine Kirkpatrick, my younger sister, is a former book editor at Macmillan and the author of five historical novels. My older sister, Jennifer Kirkpatrick was a writer and researcher for National Geographic.

I was born in Glen Cove, New York, on October 4, 1955, and grew up in Stony Brook, on the north shore of Long Island. While attending the Kent School, in Kent, Connecticut, I won writing awards for poetry and journalism. Throughout my high-school years, and during college, I wrote several hundred articles for Long Island newspapers and became a stringer for Associated Press.

At Hampshire College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, I majored in Chinese language and history. After graduation in 1978, I lived in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan, where I taught ESL, directed and produced a short television documentary, and acted in two low-budget action films.

I completed my education in 1982 with an MFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where I worked on several short films with classmates Spike Lee and Ang Lee, and optioned my first screenplay. While attending NYU, I wrote and directed "My Father The President" which won the 1982 American Film Festival and a CINE Golden Eagle. This film has since become a perennial favorite at over 1000 schools, libraries and museums across the country, and can be seen daily at the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace at 28 East 20th Street, in New York City, and a the Sagamore Hill National Historical Site in Oyster Bay, New York.

The success of "My Father The President" caught the attention of film director Harrison Engle, who hired me to associate-produce a two hour television special, "The Indomitable Theodore Roosevelt," which starred George C. Scott. This film premiered on CBS in 1984, won a prestigious CINE Golden Eagle, and was nominated for an Emmy.

I moved to Los Angeles in 1982 and continued working with Harrison Engle, with whom I produced several short films for the Television Academy Hall of Fame, which included film biographies of Milton Berle, Norman Lear, Edward R. Murrow, and Lucille Ball.

The inspiration for my first book came in 1983, while I was collecting material at the Directors Guild of America for a film tribute to King Vidor, the legendary director of over seventy-six motion pictures. In the midst of organizing Vidor’s papers, I came across a locked strong-box containing the details of Vidor’s investigation of the 1922 murder of director William Desmond Taylor. Biographers A. Scott Berg and Edmund Morris were instrumental in helping me to obtain a publishing contract with E.P. Dutton. "A Cast of Killers," released in 1986, was on the best-sellers list for sixteen weeks, and was hailed as “mesmerizing” by author Anne Rice in a featured review for the New York Times Book Review.

After writing “A Cast of Killers,” I worked at Paramount Studios with screenwriter Robert Towne. Another screenwriter I worked with was Larry Ferguson, with whom I developed an action and adventure screenplay, “One Deadly Summer.” This film project, based on the true story of marine scientist Richard Novak’s one man war against Medellin drug lord Carlos Lehder, was optioned for actor Harrison Ford by Cinergi Films. Later retitled “Turning The Tide,” and co-written with author Peter Abrahams, it was published by Dutton in 1991 and excerpted by Readers Digest in 1992.

Research on my third book, "Lords of Sipán," was begun in 1991 in a small village on the north coast of Peru where I traced the contents of a looted pre-Inca tomb as it entered the black market in stolen antiquities. From Peru I traced the artifacts to London, New York, Beverly Hills, and finally, to the Santa Barbara Art Museum, where the priceless artifacts were eventually confiscated by U.S. Customs agents. My investigation and subsequent book, published by Morrow in 1994, was hailed by the Washington Post and National Geographic as an achievement in its field. It has since been excerpted in the Reader's Digest, optioned for a television movie by National Geographic, and was the subject of a New York Times feature story.

My fourth book, "Edgar Cayce, An American Prophet,” was a biography of the famed Virginia Beach psychic and father of the holistic health movement. Published by Riverhead in September 2000, this book has been described by the New Yorker Magazine as “a codex for the New Age.” Another reviewer, and long-time Edgar Cayce scholar, has described it as “the most enlightening book ever written about Edgar Cayce.”

"The Revenge of Thomas Eakins," published on April 1, 2006, is a biography of the controversial Philadelphia portrait painter. It was nominated by Yale University Press for a Pulitzer Prize.

My latest book, “Hitler’s Holy Relics,” a true-crime thriller set in World War II, tells the story of Dr. Walter Horn, a U.C. Berkeley art historian turned Army sleuth who races to stay one step ahead of Nazi conspirators seeking to preserve the treasures of the fallen Third Reich for a Fourth Reich.

I live in Stony Brook, New York, and Pasadena, California, with writer Nancy Thurlbeck, whom I have collaborated on several ghost-written publishing projects. Nancy and I have a Brady Bunch household that consists of four children ranging in age from seventeen to twenty-seven.

Besides my film and literary endeavors, I am active in numerous civic activities, have sat on the board of PEN, chaired a fund-raising team for the YMCA, and have produced a nationally recognized literary event for the Pasadena Public Library. Other personal interests include grave rubbing—I have one of the largest collections in North America—and bell ringing—I hold the rare distinction of being one of the few Americans invited to join the London County Guild of Change Ringers.

Purchase Books

Read more about Turning the Tide

Sidney D Kirkpatrick Appearances

I'm pleased and excited to be lecturing on Edgar Cayce at several upcoming events in the U.S. and Canada:

May 31-June 2, 2013  in Deerfield Beach, Florida. 

June 15 and June 18, 2013   in Virginia Beach, VA.
A.R.E. Headquarters Conference 

 July 5-7, 2013 , Annual  Atlantic Fellowship Conference 2013 at Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick.

July 19-21, 2013  – A.R.E. Summer Asilomar Retreat: Edgar Cayce on Reincarnation: His Life and Soul Groups, Learning the Lessons Today!
Charles Thomas Cayce and Sidney KirkpatrickA.R.E. Conference Near You 2013
Call A.R.E. Conferences Registrar: 800-333-4499 or register online.