Journey back to a time when doctors tried to jolt your paralysed muscles awake with a strychnine laced enema. When a physician wrote you a prescription for the mercury base "Thunderclapper" pill to relieve your constipation. When you attempted to soothe your arthritic joints with a trip to a uranium mine.
Lydia Kang, M.D., is a practicing internal medicine physician and author of young adult fiction. Her YA novels include Control, Catalyst, and the upcoming The November Girl. She has gained a reputation as a medical consultant for fiction authors and teaches writers how to accurately maim their literary victims on her blog series, Medical Mondays. Nate Pedersen is a librarian, historian, and freelance journalist with over 400 publications in print and online, including The Guardian, The Believer, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Art of Manliness.
"[A]n insightful look at human hubris in the story of would-be cures of all our ailments." --NPR's Science Friday
"Much more than simply an overview of radioactive suppositories and mummy powder, Quackery is a thrilling dive into the human desire to live, to thrive, and the incredible power of belief. Delightful, disturbing, and delightfully disturbing, Quackery shares fascinating medical tales from throughout the ages, including the age we live in. It astonishes with the history of what patients once did in the name of 'health' and makes you wonder what we will one day look back on with equal shock."
--Dylan Thuras, coauthor of Atlas Obscura
"Fascinating, fun, and occasionally infuriating. . . . a cautionary tale that should resonate even today--a reminder that when it comes to health care, being an informed consumer may indeed save your life."
--Deborah Blum, author of The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz-Age New York
"Quackery brilliantly educates and entertains through the errors of doctors and scientists of the past. An entertaining read that will shock you and change how you view the health claims on products that we see daily."
--David B. Agus, MD, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller The End of Illness and Professor of Medicine and Engineering, University of Southern California
"A bubbling elixir of the comically useless, the wildly hyped, and the just plain weird in would-be cures through history. Peel away those quaint old patent medicine labels and add some modern buzzwords, and marvel at how much has (and yet hasn't really) changed."
--Paul Collins, author of The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars
"Next time someone reminisces to you about the good old days, remind them how people used to wash their faces with arsenic, rub on radium liniment, and give each other tobacco smoke enemas. This compulsively readable compendium is a great reminder that medicine in the old days was often worse than the disease--and that there's always reason to be wary of 'miracle cures.'"
--Bess Lovejoy, author of Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses
"Entertaining and informative." --Publishers Weekly