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Publisher's Summary

The extraordinary tale of how a mysterious immigrant "doctor" became the revolutionary innovator in saving premature babies by placing them in incubators in World's Fair side shows and on Coney Island and Atlantic City.

Was Martin Couney a charlatan or a good doctor?

As Dawn Raffel artfully recounts, Dr. Couney figured out he could use incubators and careful nursing to keep previously doomed infants alive and at the same time make good money displaying these babies alongside sword swallowers, bearded ladies, and burlesque shows. How this turn-of-the-20th-century émigré became the savior to families with premature infants, known then as "weaklings" - while ignoring the scorn of the medical establishment - is one of the most astounding stories of modern medicine. And as listeners will find, Dr. Couney, for all his opportunistic entrepreneurial gusto, is a surprisingly appealing character, someone who genuinely cared for the well-being of his tiny patients. But he was not, after all, a doctor.

Drawing on newly discovered documents, obscure contemporary reports, and interviews with some of the now elderly surviving infants, acclaimed journalist and magazine editor Dawn Raffel tells the marvelously eccentric story of Couney's mysterious carnival career, his larger-than-life personality, and his unprecedented success as the savior of tiny babies.

©2018 Dawn Raffel (P)2018 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing

I can’t say enough how amazing this story was.
Not being familiar with the locations mentioned in the book, it was a little difficult to visualize. Still, if authentic, it was truly fascinating.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fascinating

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Couldn’t stop listening or talking to my friends about it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fascinating

Husband and I both enjoyed this audible selection immensely. Will share w/ others. Thank yih

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Dr. Couney has rewards in heaven.

What a Brave Hero. This book is a beautiful tribute to a man who saved so many lives. I will read it again.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Beautiful.Baby Story

So much learned about how people embraced the sacredness of life, the will of the hu.an spirit.

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What a slice of history!,

So glad to have seen introduced to Ckuey! What an usual hero. who faced slander, fired., the com.on belief in eugenics t. Yet Couney parserveref and sa ed countless premied.

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I wanted to learn something I didn't know

I'm a very curious person. So when I read something that pique's my interest....like the beginning of incubators at the Worlds Fair and not in hospitals.....I was interested. I listened with interest for about 1/3 of the way in but the story of the elephant that was so cruelly killed was just over the top for me to listen to. I am not usually overly sensitive about such things but this was just a bit too detailed so I shut it down. Ruined the book for me.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful