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Quackery

A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything
Narrated by: Hillary Huber
Length: 10 hrs and 29 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (133 ratings)
Regular price: $20.99
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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
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

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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!

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Computer-generated Narrator. Dated Humour.

There are some genuine nuggets of information in this book, but you really need patience to listen to it. It is loaded with the most cringe-worthy humour, laborious chapter headings/sub-headings and an inexplicable choice of narrator. It sounds like an exaggeration, but she really sounds like she is a computer-generated voice. I am baffled. Would someone speak like that deliberately? Is it a real person? The book is already challenged with its writing and they choose that kind of narration? It is the definition of an "own goal."

It's a shame because if it had been written as a straight informational nonfiction book and read by a decent narrator, it would have been perfectly acceptable.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great read for nurses

As a nurse I fully enjoyed this book. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, you need a strong stomach for some of these quackeries.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Comprehensive is an understatement

I didn't get into this book or the performance until I was well in, but I ended up settling in comfortably after a while. This book is CHOCK FULL of interesting facts and kooky treatments; it would be difficult not to get hooked once you get accustomed to the generous sprinkling of gratuitous corny jokes (the narrator does a good job of handling them by the way). It's a good addition to your library if you're into medical history.

1 of 1 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.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

A fun read

A fun and interesting subject to read. And the narrator is a hoot! Love the humor!

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My New Favorite Book

First, I am listening to another book now, and all I can think about is how much I wish Hillary Huber were narrating it! Her reading of this book was perfect--she got the tone just right, with its mix of grim facts, humor, and fascination. Going forward, if there is a book I am on the fence about, and then I see that she is the narrator, I will buy that book.

Second, I loved the book. Educational, weird facts, humorous, well-research, documented, detailed, sectioned by themes, historical, medical--so much of what I want in a non-fiction book.

The title and subtitle are fairly self-explanatory. Some of the historical and truly awful ways humans have used to cure ailments and boost health include the use of: blood, mummies, color, poisons (tobacco, strychnine, alcohol, etc.), light, water, skin, animal parts, fasting, and blood-letting.

The authors did a great job of being specific and detailed, but never needlessly gory. I was particularly worried about this when I got to the chapter about animal parts, but I was able to listen.

If you have friends or family who are forever getting caught up in trends--I believe that right now it is cinnamon, although the only cinnamon with actual health benefits is both expensive and rare, and too much can be hazardous--this book will give you some ammunition, as in, "Oh, yeah. That sounds like this weird thing people did back in the 1800s."

For any other non-fiction, history, medicine, trends, and sociology fans out there, as well as folks who like the learn while being entertained.

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Fun!

Fun, factual book. Nicely narrated and pleasantly written. A must read for those interested in medical maladies.

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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