Killing Vincent: The Man, The Myth, and The Murder disproves a common myth about the “mad artist”, Vincent van Gogh, and his “suicide”, making a case for a far different scenario surrounding his death. It’s a combination of true crime, and an unsolved romantic murder mystery. It is a psychological probe into history that is a ‘must’ for any reader interested in Vincent’s life and death.
Dr. Arenberg maintains that Vincent wasn’t a depressed and insane individual who shot himself in a wheat field. Instead, he was not “mad”. Yet, Vincent stumbled to his accommodations, bleeding from an abdominal wound that killed him. Who created that fatal injury? Did Vincent shoot himself? A modern forensic analysis confirms that the wound was not self-inflicted; therefore, not suicide, but murder.
Modern forensic science is applied to history in an intriguing manner, offering not just detailed insights on van Gogh’s death, but on the process of verifying historical facts and tackling long-cold cases of murder, suicide, or mysterious death.
One should be forewarned that this is no casual inspection. For example, research into and photographs of letters in Vincent’s own hand, documenting his ‘vertige’ attacks, show how differences in translation approach and generic terms may have contributed to differences of interpretation that alter diagnoses, perspectives, and medical viewpoints.
Dr. Arenberg’s medical background is invaluable as he pursues an analysis that includes his opinion about Vincent’s attacks, his health, medical diagnosis, and the impacts of his recurrent disorder on his art. However, Dr. Arenberg maintains that Vincent’s medical issues did not impact his death. Dr. Arenberg pulls no punches in giving his opinion of popular and possibly erroneous conclusions of the past: “In contrast to being remotely suicidal, you have alternately to accept that this genius’s primary need was to create and capture all the beauty in the world that he saw so clearly. This unbelievable creative drive and process that generated one or two masterpieces a day would not willingly be snuffed out in any moment of despair.”
From an in-depth probe into the artist’s psyche, a new diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome emerged. In addition to progressive, investigative steps into physical evidence, such as the murder weapon, Dr. Arenberg leaves no stone unturned; whether it be forensic reenactments of the murder and discussions of the crime scene or examinations of motives and likely perps.
Color drawings throughout, created by artist Darrell Anderson specifically for the Killing Vincent Project, accompany the author’s location photos and images from new forensic studies.
The result is simply an unparalleled ‘must’, recommended not just for art enthusiasts, but for true crime and history readers interested in the process of re-examining a homicide cold case and its impact on modern-day audiences.
~ Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review