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Publisher's Summary

What won't we try in our quest for perfect health, beauty, and the fountain of youth? Well, just imagine a time when doctors prescribed morphine for crying infants. When liquefied gold was touted as immortality in a glass. And when strychnine - yes, that strychnine, the one used in rat poison - was dosed like Viagra.

Looking back with fascination, horror, and not a little dash of dark, knowing humor, Quackery recounts the lively, at times unbelievable, history of medical misfires and malpractices. Ranging from the merely weird to the outright dangerous, here are dozens of outlandish, morbidly hilarious "treatments" - conceived by doctors and scientists, by spiritualists, and snake oil salesmen (yes, they literally tried to sell snake oil) - that were predicated on a range of cluelessness, trial and error, and straight-up scams. This book seamlessly combines macabre humor with science and storytelling to reveal an important and disturbing side of the ever-evolving field of medicine.

©2017 Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen (P)2018 Tantor

What members say

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  • Overall
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Fascinating

I’ve been waiting to read this book for a while so I was super happy when audible got it, and I was not disappointed. This book is a fascinating blend of history, “science” and wit. I consider myself well read in medicine and medical history and though some stories I’ve heard before, I still learned about from this book! I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t, unless you majored in medical history.

Although the narrator was perfect, I found whatever they used to record her to sound a little too robotic. This distracts from how engaging the book is imo. It wasn’t as bad as other books as I still finished, but I still wish it sounded more human.

That being said, if the title peaks your interest I highly recommend this book as I doubt you’ll be disappointed. However, if you have the time to pick book vs audible, id recommend getting the book due to the slightly “robotic” narration. Or at least give the sample a go!

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Very interesting book

The story is very interesting and informative but narration... whole different story! Sometimes it sounds like listening to computer generated voice. Plus, tons of “any takers?”, “OK?”, “yammy!”, “mind you”, etc are really not this necessary IMHO.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Ouch! Yum! Burn!!!

If you grew up in the 90's and/or think that "Friends" was the height of comedy in recorded history, this book might be for you.

If, on the other hand, you're looking for an interesting little book that will be informative and entertaining to hold you over until your next serious book, you'll be sadly disappointed. Very little presented is new information (the usual suspects... Kellogg, Mesmer, Starvation Heights). That which is somewhat new, is done in such a slapdash fashion, with annoying asides like the ones in the headline, or tagged with snarky remarks, that the information is lost in the mix.

The narrator did a reasonable job conveying the banal sense of humor, and only mispronounced a handful of names.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Some things never change...



Although the book both amusing and enlightening, I do think that the distinction needs to me main tween outright quackery and really bad ideas that are firmly held and believed. Although, for instance, Pres. Washington was probably killed by bloodletting, is Dr. was firmly convinced that bloodletting was the healthiest, best thing for him! And it's really difficult to realize that there are aspects of medicine that we still loan know! We are discovering that some of the treatments that we use to consider ludicrous are actually useful in some situations (for instance, leeches and, yes, "bloodletting -although by a different name"…
But still, some of the amazingly, incredible practices that we justified for monetary gain were positively fantastic in their bizarreness! And although it's tempting to say that people brought in on themselves, things that we currently know to be bizarre and outlandish were not seen that way 100 years ago. Which of our current practices will be seen that way a hundred years hence?
But overall, it was a good book!

The rereading of this book reinforced my idea that there is a difference between true quackery and lack of knowledge, but it still points out the amount of true quackery that is rife in medicine and amongst those who truly desire to just make money! And it points out how long and ubiquitous some truly stupid ideas are. The idea that "a little of the thing is good CLEARLY implies that a lot is better" is easy to tout and doesn't appear to require research :-(. Fasting and cleanses are still promoted as beneficial if not necessary for humans, and we are fed a combination of "people were made perfectly to care for and heal themselves naturally" and "people must do amazingly complex things on a daily basis in order to realize their full potential
(review on GoodReads)

1 of 3 people found this review helpful