Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Quackery - Nonfiction Review

Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen (Amazon Link)

Rating: Good
Source: NetGalley

Description: Discover 67 shocking-but-true medical misfires that run the gamut from bizarre to deadly. Like when doctors prescribed morphine for crying infants. When snorting skull moss was a cure for a bloody nose. When consuming mail-order tapeworms was a latter-day fad diet. Or when snake oil salesmen peddled strychnine (used in rat poison) as an aphrodisiac in the '60s. Seamlessly combining macabre humor with hard science and compelling storytelling, Quackery is a visually rich and information-packed exploration of history's most outlandish cures, experiments, and scams.
A humorous book that delves into some of the wacky but true ways that humans have looked to cure their ills. Leeches, mercury, strychnine, and lobotomies are a few of the topics that explore what lengths society has gone in the search for health.

Genre: Nonfiction

Why I Picked This Book:  The title caught my attention and I love looking at weird little parts of history.

My Impression:  When the first few pages of a book makes your jaw drop in disbelief I figure that's a good sign and this definitely did that!  Did you know that a compound of mercury was used as a teething remedy up until the 1920s?  Or that beer and crushed garlic was given to induce vomiting after a snake bite?  Or that radium was thought to cure "sexual indifference" in women?  Or that strychnine was given to men with the same problem?  This book is packed full of bits and pieces that had me saying "I had no idea!" and lots of things that made me happy to have been born long after the era of leeches, blistering, and tobacco disinfectant.

This isn't really a book I can imagine sitting down and reading from cover to cover but instead is a fun book to flip through.  I think it'd be fantastic to have on hand when someone in your household is sick and being a bit whiny so you could pull it out and inform them what treatment they could have gotten at an earlier time.  I imagine that would make the most cranky sick person head back to bed quietly and a bit gratefully.

While the pictures aren't particularly explicit some of the descriptions can be a bit graphic.  This isn't really a book I'd want to eat a meal while reading but it was incredibly entertaining.  This is a fun book to flip through and full of all kinds of crazy remedies that will make you glad for antibiotics and Advil.

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?  Yes, particularly if the premise of the book was entertaining.

Would I Recommend this Book?  If you have a strong stomach this book is pretty entertaining.  I also think it'd be a good gift for doctors or nurses.


  1. Crazy the sorts of treatments were given in the "dark ages" of medicine. It probably killed people rather than healed them. Interesting book though.

  2. Love, love love books like this with neat trivia and little known info. Gonna see if I can find it in our local library! Hugs...RO

  3. How fun! There is this fabulous Children's non-fiction book called I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: Histories Greatest Cures. I think you would really like it. It's got the best information in such a fun format.

  4. This sounds really different. Great review!

  5. This is a book I'd love to read. Thanks for telling us about it!

  6. Oh now this would be a fantastic coffee table, or guest room book. I am curious about some of the awful remedies. I swear by Apple Cider Vinegar for everything.

  7. This does sound intriguing! The older I get the more quesy my stomach gets though. Ha ha. There were a few scenes in my last book, Reincarnation Blues, that had me gulping air. :)

  8. Yes... I recall looking at some of the cures when I was studying history at college - it's a wonder our ancestors survived at all... Thank you for sharing this intriguing book:)