Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen

Quackery

A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything

Workman Publishing Company 2017

New Books in HistoryNew Books in MedicineNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books Network May 22, 2018 Jeremy Corr

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...

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: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything (Workman Publishing Company, 2017) 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, Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen seamlessly combines macabre humor with science and storytelling to reveal an important and disturbing side of the ever-evolving field of medicine.


Jeremy Corr is the co-host of the hit Fixing Healthcare podcast along with industry thought leader Dr. Robert Pearl. A University of Iowa history alumnus, Jeremy is curious and passionate about all things healthcare, which means he’s always up for a good discussion! Reach him at [email protected]

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