What won’twe 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,Quackeryseamlessly combines macabre humor with science and storytelling to reveal an important and disturbing side of the ever-evolving field of medicine.
About the Author
Lydia Kang, MD, is a practicing internal medicine physician and author of young adult fiction and adult fiction. Her YA novels includeControl, Catalyst, and the upcomingThe November Girl. Her adult fiction debut is entitledA Beautiful Poison. Her nonfiction has been published inJAMA, theAnnals of Internal Medicine, and theJournal of General Internal Medicine.
Nate Pedersen is a librarian, historian, and freelance journalist with over 400 publications in print and online, including in theGuardian, theBeliever, theSan Francisco Chronicle, and theArt of Manliness.