Dr. Douglas Zipes, Renowned Cardiologist

Writer  /  Leia Barker
Photography provided

1479069674___dougzipesabout1The Jewish Community Center wrapped up its 18th annual Ann Katz Book and Arts week celebrating, among other authors, Dr. Doug Zipes. Zipes is best known as a world-class cardiologist. He graduated from Dartmouth College, Harvard Medical School and Duke University Medical Center. He’s published 16 textbooks and more than 800 medical articles, and he also writes a health column for the Saturday Evening Post.

On the 87th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, during which Jews were attacked in Nazi Germany, Rabbi Dennis Sasso introduced Zipes. Sasso lauded his many credentials and accomplishments, to which Zipes said, “That sounded like an obituary.”

Zipes is a storyteller at heart, and with the support of his wife, Joan, has written three novels. His latest, “Not Just a Game,” focuses on actual events with a fictional cast woven throughout.

“My first two novels are all fiction,” Zipes says. “For ‘Not Just a Game,’ I took facts and changed those things for the story.”

1479074392___notjustagamebookcover“Not Just a Game” is the riveting story of three generations of Olympic athletes as they attempt to survive monumental challenges in the shadow of Hitler and a rebirth of Nazism. It begins in the dark days of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, carries through to the 1972 Munich Olympics, and climaxes at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

In the official synopsis, it is 1936 and track star Dietrich Becker trains for the Berlin Olympics. Supported by his wife and an unknown benefactor, Dietrich is hiding a dangerous secret: he is Jewish. But when he unexpectedly loses to the legendary Jesse Owens, a humiliated Dietrich crumbles under overwhelming pressure and makes a decision that changes everything.

Thirty-six years later, Dietrich’s son, Adam, is the assistant head of the 1972 Israeli Olympic team. Adam travels to Munich, where Islamic terrorists murder 11 Israeli athletes, including one of his friends, fencing coach Levi Frankel. Eventually Levi’s widow teaches Adam’s daughter, Kirsten, to fence, and she sets her sights on the 2016 Olympics. When she travels to Rio with the Israeli team, just as Nazism is reborn, Kirsten and a French fencer become intrigued by rumors that Hitler fled World War II to South America. Kristen soon discovers that she is fighting not just to win gold, but also for her life.

Zipes takes his readers on a well-researched, thought-provoking, historical-fiction journey. The theme throughout the book is that Nazism is still prevalent today.

“This is sad but true,” he said. “Even in the aftermath of the election results, swastikas were painted on buildings in Philadelphia.”

At the end of the book, Zipes provides details of what is fact versus fiction in his novel.

He said, “That’s the least I can do for the reader.”

“I love my dad and am so proud of him for all that he has done to make a difference in the world,” shares daughter Debbie Zipes, President of Indiana Afterschool Network. “He invented a type of pacemaker that has saved countless lives and has been engaged in a years-long battle to increase awareness about the risks of Taser to cause cardiac arrest. And during all of his work around the world, he always makes time for his children and grandchildren.”


Dr. Zipes will be discussing one of his other novels, “Ripples In Opperman’s Pond,” at the December 26 meeting of the JCC book club.

Please visit dougzipes.com or jccindy.org for more information.  

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