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Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything
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Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  3,699 ratings  ·  634 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 344 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by Workman Publishing Company
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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 ·  3,699 ratings  ·  634 reviews

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Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia King is a 2017 Workman Publishing Company publication.

A jaw dropping collection of gruesome and ghastly concoctions and procedures guaranteed to cure whatever ails you… if it doesn’t kill you first.

Before there was an FDA to weed out potentially dangerous ‘snake oil cures', the market was open to all manner of experimental potions and concoctions sold to an unsuspecting public.

This is a fascinating look at some of the mos
Diane S ☔
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 Regardless of the less than ideal state of the world today, this is one of those books that at least medically, make one grateful that we were born in today's medical world. This book is incredibly comprehensive and we'll researched. I know most of us have heard of the use of leeches, cold water cures, opium, electro shock therapy and the use of these have made us shudder with the knowledge we have now.

Some of the things in this book I had never heard before. Such as the use of skulls and br
Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

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I bought this on impulse a few days ago because it was on sale in the Kindle store and I recognized one of the authors. Lydia Kang writes really inventive medical-themed historical fiction, including THE IMPOSSIBLE GIRL, which I loved. The caliber of her medical writing really shouldn't be surprising since she has an M.D. and, according to her Goodreads profile, works as a doctor when she's not penning fiction. I have never heard of Nate
Heidi The Reader
Jun 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Quackery taught me that people have been desperately seeking cures for ailments, real and perceived, for ages. Sometimes that search takes them into disgusting or deadly treatments peddled by others who are taking advantage of that desperation for their own gain.

These human vultures have been called "quacks," among other things.

"But quackery isn't always about pure deception. Though the term is usually defined as the practice and promotion of intentionally fraudulent medical treatments, it also
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For lovers of the unusual side of medical history, this book features shocking true stories and well placed (if not disturbingly funny) puns and jokes.
Alice Lippart
Interesting and easy to read, and although I enjoyed the jokes in it, it felt like there were too many of them.
Nov 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Lots of information and its graphics and hardcover book form are marvelous. This holds so much criteria and minutia of centuries of treatments and all kinds of paths to attempt cures or remedies. Not all were conducted in a malevolent or tricking to profit mode. Most were serious attempts to improve a dire health problem, disease, or some living condition that handicapped to strong degrees. Because so many of the original patient conditions are serious ones, these were often experimental attempt ...more
Jill Hutchinson
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the 17th, 18th, or 19th century, if you were sick, call the doctor if you wanted to die more quickly! The horrors of "medical treatment" which even stretched to the early 20th century have to be read about to be believed. It was a guessing game and the patient was the lab rat who rarely survived the "cure". Physicians were obsessed with bleeding (even if your problem was loss of blood); enemas (even if your problem was diarrhea); drilling holes in your skull to release the bad spirits; arseni ...more
Victoria Peipert
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
While this is a fun read and definitely contains a lot of information about different medical beliefs and practices in history, it has a very amateur feel. There are times where the tone of the authors has a very strong informal colloquial style. They use cliches and conversational terms and I think that it de-emphasizes the importance of this information being framed in a more formal tone so that it feels more legitimate and factual.
Alice, as in Wonderland
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I feel like I gotta give this 5 stars on account of it being 100% what I expected, which is essentially a book length Cracked article in the shape of a book.

It's gross, horrifying, and great.
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
Most of us dread a trip to the doctor's office. I know I do! But have you ever thought how nice it actually is to go to one and, well, not have to fear heavy metal poisoning? Or... not have to lose a pint of blood to purge you?

Yeah, when I think about it, it's definitely good that the 21st century is the way it is, even if our medical systems are not perfect (I hear you.) But medicine hasn't always been like it is today. And this book will tell you how it was before it was like it is today.
Actually DNF-ing at 51%. It just got gross... Some stuff, like the wine and herb and poison chapters, were interesting, but the lobotomies and rectal cures...I got nauseous, lol! Not for me.
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A more complete review is available on my blog:

Not all quacks are snake oil salesmen. Of course, some of them are and in Quackery you will learn about them. Some quacks are not out to make a quick buck but legitimately believe in their own ineffective or harmful treatments. Lydia Kang, a physician, and Nate Pedersen, a journalist, will fascinate you with stories of how doctors used to use substances like cocaine, opium and tobacco to cure disease and did n
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Cocaine, Beaver Testicles, and the Healing Power of Man Grease

Quackery, by Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen, is a delightfully gruesome compendium of some of the worst medical techniques and beliefs in human history. Whether it’s the horrors of old surgical techniques or the best ways to eat a Ginger (not eat ginger… I mean eat ‘a Ginger’) for your optimum health, you’ll find it in this book.

The book is funny, informative, and fascinatingly grotesque. And it’s a wonder the human race survived our do
☙ nemo ❧
Apr 28, 2017 marked it as tbr-priority
Feb 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
It was interesting to read this book in the amidst of the coronavirus outbreak. It's astonishing how quackery, superstition and mythos is still noticeable in the practice of medicine today.
Ellen Gail
3.5 stars. Fun, gross, and educational, it's especially good for learning about fun things like "puke chalices." And nothing brightens up a conversation like espousing the benefits of hyena feet!
Bernard O'Leary
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Quackery keeps trying to hold the reader's attention by making lame dad jokes about the subject matter. I'm not sure if the chapter on enemas includes a line like "talk about a pain in the butt!" but that's basically the level of joke we're talking about here.

It doesn't actually need to do this, because it's a fascinating and well-researched journey through the batshit history of medicine. In fact, there's an argument to be made that the medicine we know (antibiotics, sterilisation, vaccines, w
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
The next time I hear someone say they'd like to go back to the "Good ol' days" or some such nonsense, I'm going to suggest they read this book. Sure, times were simpler back when everyone but the royalty worked from dawn to dusk, when public executions were a weekly event, when women were kept in their place, and starving children had hands chopped off for stealing a loaf of bread. Yes, those days were much simpler and it's a wonder we don't all wish to go back to them. However, one thing that s ...more
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it
Fascinating read and I highlighted quite a bit in the ebook; however, the constant joking really put me off. There was some extraordinary information about medical practices and the overall wacky treatments that have been done throughout history-and then there would be a lame "dad joke". I just felt none of that was needed as it was such an awesome read and the information and pictures were enough to hold my intrigue. Learned quite a bit from this one.

Entertaining and informative!

I received a c
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I really sort of get a weird kick out of the strange things people have done (and do) to improve their health (like Gwenyth Paltrow's vagina eggs) and this book is seriously right up my alley. Each chapter is broken into a different substance, and then the author goes through that substance and talks about how it works, how people used it, side effects, and how it's handled today (if it's handled at all).

And look, it's FASCINATING, but also REALLY FUNNY.

You learn about things like puke cups, a
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: audiobook
I was super excited about this book. Unfortunately, the tone of the writing is beyond snarky and the sarcasm gets old, fast.

In my opinion, the title is misleading. There’s a difference between quackery, and a lack of scientific understanding. While some of the stories are indeed interesting, the tone ultimately fails them. Instead it reads like a wanna-be comedy through the implication that real scientists throughout history were just stupid. It does make note of actual quackery, but sadly, the
While reading this book, I had to keep reminding myself that the practices and methods discussed weren't just a product of the authors' imaginations but were actual "treatments" once thought to cure problems ranging from babies who wouldn't stop crying to parasitic infections. Opium to treat vision problems? Strychnine as an aphrodisiac? Mercury to soothe babies' teething pain? "Man grease" to cure gout? They're all here … and a lot more that will leave most readers shaking their heads.

Thank yo
Susan in NC
3.5-4 stars for a very interesting look at some of the bizarre, often painful, and sometimes disgusting cures patients have suffered through the ages. As the authors point out, physicians often sincerely thought they were helping, offering the best care the knowledge of the day provided - but sometimes the “cures” were charlatans exploiting the ignorance, vanity and fear of patients wanting to be slimmer, sexier, healthier, to live longer, or simply live.

I read this book for a challenge in the B
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Nonfiction isn’t my genre of choice and I usually get through it a lot slower than I would with other genres, but this was incredibly entertaining. The comedic element to it absolutely kept me in it, and kind of reminded me of Randall Munroe’s What If? (which is unequivocally my favorite nonfiction book). The author didn’t present the “cures” in an overly educational way, it was more along the lines of “look at these morons, they actually thought this would work!”, which made it surprisingly fun ...more
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very educational, very entertaining, and quite eye-opening in a "they can't have seriously thought that would work, could they" kind of way.

Recommended simply for the great writing!
Quackery follows a similar format as recent releases such as Get Well Soon or Wicked Bugs. Informative, witty, and irreverent, books like these have become a new way of learning. In Quackery, Lydia Kang and Nate Pedersen present all things medical from throughout the ages. Unfortunately, they fail at the witty and irreverent aspects of presenting information in this way, making for an uneven, somewhat uncomfortable read at times as they force their modern-day knowledge onto historical actions.

Anne Benefield
Nov 13, 2017 rated it did not like it
This is honestly the most annoying author I have ever read. She chronically inserts sarcastic quips after nearly every sentence, which is distracting and not funny in the least. What a waste of what could have been a good book.
LAPL Reads
Aug 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
The history of medicine is not pretty. However, if you are in the right mood and frame of mind, it can be pretty funny. Over the years people have tried some wild things to make themselves feel better, and Quackery: a brief history of the worst ways to cure everything grants us a closer look at some of those treatments and times, from ancient Greece through the age of disco. This whirlwind tour of medical history includes tapeworm diets, mercury treatments for syphilis, electric brushes for bald ...more
May 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
I am very interested in Medical cures so when I saw the book “Quackery” I thought it must be a good book to read about all the weird and failed attempts to cure disease which occurred in our past.

A book like this I just highlight the phony cures I find most interesting. One such cure I am familiar with because it was used on America’s founding father George Washington. Bloodletting is where a doctor would use a lancet (a curved or pointed blade with a handle on the end) or other instrument to p
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