A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything

Book - 2017
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"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. With vintage illustrations, photographs, and advertisements throughout, Quackery seamlessly combines macabre humor with science and storytelling to reveal an important and disturbing side of the ever-evolving field of medicine"--
Publisher: New York :, Workman Publishing,, [2017]
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780761189817
Branch Call Number: 615.856 K163q 2017
Characteristics: viii, 344 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Pedersen, Nate - Author


From Library Staff

Not a fan of non-fiction, but I loved this book! Interesting, fun, and just a wee bit disturbing. Makes me glad I didn’t live in the Victorian era. - Carol Whetzel

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Feb 18, 2019

It's a highly amusing adventure through all the horrifying faux-medicinal practices popular throughout western history. It's an enjoyable read but I'm not sure folks might want to read this in the doctor's office waiting room.

SkokieStaff_Steven Jul 24, 2018

After reading Lydia Kang’s “Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything,” I can now say with confidence that there is no substance on earth so pernicious or vile that someone, somewhere, has not decided it would make a fine medical treatment. I mean, leeches? Beaver testicles? Mummies? Strychnine? Among much else, I learned from this book that there really were snake oil salesmen, that snake oil does indeed have medical properties, and that charlatans have shamelessly sold mislabeled bottles of the stuff without any healthful snake product inside. This book is equally parts informative, horrific, repulsive, and humorous—a blend I can’t seem to get enough of—and as a bonus is heavily illustrated.

Apr 23, 2018

In another universe, this book wouldn't have taken me two weeks to read, but in this one? In this universe here? I slowed down to enjoy the crap out of it. There were a couple of chapters I wasn't really interested in, like the ones on corpse medicine and cannibalism. But that's because I've read specific books on those topics in recent years.

If you like micro-histories, medical history, and looks back on vintage content, then you'll really enjoy Quackery. Lydia Kang, an actual doctor, has a knack for taking heavy, dreary, dark and disgusting subject matter and giving it a light, friendly spin, while still giving seasoned readers enough to sink their mental teeth into.

The book has a good index, but no bibliography or annotations. I'm an annotation nerrrrrd and would have loved to see more notes in a book like this, so I can further my reading! I'm having trouble finding medical histories to read.

Anywho: highly recommended!

OPL_KrisC Feb 03, 2018

Lydia Kang is a local Omaha author who I have come to love through her teen books. This is her first nonfiction title about medical mistakes and the worst way people have tried to treat different medical conditions. It was pretty informative with a bit of sarcasm and humor thrown in.


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