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The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth: And Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,011 ratings  ·  160 reviews
A mysterious epidemic of dental explosions,
A teenage boy who got his wick stuck in a candlestick
A remarkable woman who, like a human fountain, spurted urine from virtually every orifice

These are just a few of the anecdotal gems that have until now lain undiscovered in medical journals for centuries. This fascinating collection of historical curiosities explores some of the
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published November 20th 2018 by Dutton Books (first published October 18th 2018)
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  1,011 ratings  ·  160 reviews

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Jill Hutchinson
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor
When was the last time one of your teeth exploded? Or how about the time you ate some fresh lettuce out of the garden and two days later garden slugs climbed out of your stomach and into your mouth? Or your grandmother got pregnant at age 75? Or your neighbor swallowed 27 knives and lived? These are the types of curiosities contained in this humorous book written tongue-in-cheek by a medical historian

The author researched old books, pamphlets, letters, and doctors notes from the 18th and 19th
♥ Sandi ❣
3.5 stars

Wild and wacky! Just plain bizarre! Many cures for many illnesses that would turn your hair pure white if even suggested today.

Written by a medical historian, this book delves back to the 19th century, assembled mostly through old medical journals and newspaper clippings. With groupings like "Unfortunate Predicaments" telling of 'honking like a goose'; "Mysterious Illnesses" with 'the woman who peed through her nose'; "Dubious Remedies" with 'the pigeon's rump cure'; "Tall Tales" with
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, netgalley
Medicine is an ever-evolving profession, and its history can be downright weird. Medical historian Thomas Morris has combed through countless vintage medical journals and historical documents showcasing the progress medicine has made in a relatively short time. His work goes beyond bizarre anecdotes, and instead softens the wonky view of health, breaking into sections ranging from Horrifying Operations to Mysterious Illnesses. Collected here are stories not just of fatal mistakes, but also ...more
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth: And Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine contains a distressing lack of exploding teeth stories. Don't get me wrong, the exploding teeth do make an appearance - and indeed, the first hand accounts of them are even more startling than you might imagine. A report as loud as a gunshot, a molar split in half - these are the sorts of details I was very much looking forward to. Yet only two accounts are in the book, and not much speculation is there as to ...more
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are many reasons that I am thankful that I was born when I was. My sex can vote. The FDA and the EPA exist. (For now.) Mostly, I am thankful for all the medical advances of the last century. I am thankful for antibiotics, antisepsis, and anesthetic. After reading Thomas Morris’ The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine, I am unspeakably thankful that I was born decades after doctors prescribed enemas for everything, bleed everyone even if they ...more
Corinne Wilson
What a wacky bunch of medical journal entries. I was completely entertained, and memorized a few gruesome tales for the next time I can't extricate myself from conversation with a creep.
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this one. It hooked me from page one and I devoured it whenever I found spare time.

The human capacity for mischief, misadventure and downright idiocy is apparently a trait that progress cannot eradicate.

The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth is a gathering of stories from history that suspend belief in some cases or in some cases just show the strength of the human body. Many of these cases have been documented in medical journals, although some passed through word of mouth and are
Jul 05, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: miscellaneous
The grumpus23 (23-word commentary)
Compendium of oddities from the early days of western medicine. While mostly true, they have a "Believe it or not" feel I enjoy.
“Horrible Histories for Adults” is the tagline: Morris pulls out obscure and hardly believable stories from medical history, as reported in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century books and periodicals, and presents them as a mixture of primary text and modern commentary. I got a poor impression from the first section, which is full of puerile sniggering at penises getting stuck in unlikely places and objects being inserted into orifices. Some of the later sections on bizarre remedies and gruesome ...more
This is everything I typically want from an audiobook - light, punchy, entertaining, and well-narrated (except for a predictable bit of British-reader-sucks-at-American-accents syndrome). It was exactly as disgusting as I'd hoped, while brimming with delightfully dainty Victorian euphemisms, such as referring to the ass as "the fundament." Do recommend.
Casey Darnell
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, nonfiction
"Trying to impress your friends while under the influence of industrial quantities of alcohol is more often than not a really terrible idea. And more importantly, the correct answer to the question 'Can you swallow more knives?' is never 'All the knives aboard the ship.'"

I love reading about weird medical stuff. And this book has a lot of weird stuff. From a young man in 1724 who had a fork lodged in his anus to a man who survived, and recovered fully, other than having a stiff knee, being shot
Scottsdale Public Library
If you’re a fan of the bizarre or medical mysteries, this is the book for you! Thomas Morris pulls together little known, unusual and sometimes scary medical stories from the period between the 17th and early 20th centuries. Gathered from medical journals and other sources, these tales show the ways doctors tried and even sometimes succeeded to cure people in the days before antibiotics and modern surgery. Some cures are precursors to more modern treatments, while others are blind alleys ...more
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I. Loved. This. Book.
The subject matter couldn't be any more in my wheelhouse.
The author writes with a great sense of humor and his translation/commentary of the historical documentation is almost always just as entertaining as the subject of the case.
I gasped and groaned to myself while reading this book and felt compelled to share (uninvited, usually) the particularly gruesome or weird cases with whomever was unfortunate enough to be within earshot.
One thing I will say is while I
Barbara McEwen
The weird wacky tales you would expect. It wasn't organized overly well and kind of just ended but we are all in it for a shock and a laugh right?
Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an entertaining and often comedically horrific collection of medical anecdotes gleaned from the pages of old medical journals and physician accounts. It is a fun read, but not for people with queasy stomachs.
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book should be titled “Men Do Stupid Things And Then Their Doctors Write About It; or, When Doctors Are Incredibly Stupid”
Nov 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fic
The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine was a funny, informative and kinda gross read.

The author extracts information from old timey leaflets, advertisements, pamphlets, and medical journals about bizarre medical cases and fake medical news, before fake news was even coined.

Mr. Morris adds minor sarcastic jokes to some of the articles he summarizes, and makes the old fashioned narrative come alive with his helpful tidbits and explanations.

It's like
Holly McIntyre
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
I am not certain how this book manages to be both bizarrely interesting and, at the same time, mildly boring. The eleven pages of citations testify to thorough research into the medical literature of Europe and the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. Antique medical terms are helpfully explained. The writing is clear and at times humorous. In the end, however, there are only so many ways to describe the survival of gruesome accidents, the catastrophic results of putting objects where ...more
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After listening to the first chapter of this, I texted my wife that there was a book she would really like about weird and gruesome medical stories and gave her an abbreviated form of one or two of the ones I'd heard already. I wasn't there when she got the text, but it would only be a little exaggeration to suggest that she dropped everything and ran to her computer to put it on her phone, making it my most successful book recommendation with her to date. By the end of the book, I felt ...more
Dec 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, science
[Random Read. 23, History.]

A collection of, as the title says, curiosities from 18th and 19th century medical journals. These tales from all over the world are absorbing as long as you are not grossed out by, well, really disturbing material. If you're looking for something to read that will help you exercise by making your muscles contract in sympathetic wincing or your legs cross involuntarily, this book is for you. From the several men who put things up their urethrae to the man whose
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Note: Audiobook review

Historical | Medical field | Evolution | Stupidity | Astonishing

True Rating: 4.5 rounded upwards because of how amazing the audiobook was

Where to start. First of all it is a nonfiction about historical medical cases, but just listening to them you almost just can't believe this is truly a nonfiction, but rather a historical science fiction. The cases are most of the time just outlandish and if you have an interest in anything related to the medical field, this is something
I could tell from the title that it was going to be humorous. The medicine discussed is from 100 and more years ago, and this results in humorously bad ideas, and frighteningly unsterile and painful techniques! People should have learned that the success of an individual technique did NOT necessarily imply the overall efficaciousness of said technique in all cases. I am so happy that science – and medicine – have improved greatly since then! It is still the case that sometimes doctors can say ...more
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a really fun read! If you to know the outlandish, the concerning, unlucky and sometimes foolish ways in which people managed to hurt themselves or get hurt, or the weird ailments they professed to have, this book has it all! Sometimes it brought about a mighty wince or two or a cringe of sympathy from the circumstances. The information is presented in very easily digestible terms that will not have you reaching for a medical dictionary: any foreign terms are described in the footnotes ...more
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is not for the faint of heart! Many of the stories have gruesome details that make it difficult to read this book without cringing and making a horrified face throughout. One of my complaints is the personality of the author, which is inserted throughout and, in my opinion, makes too much light of serious, painful topics. For example, after one cringe-inducing case, he writes, “Once you’ve dried your tears of mirth, perhaps you’ll spare a thought for the poor fellow” (40). This and ...more
Ameya Warde
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was delightfully gross, horrifying, and hilarious. The writing and narration (audiobook, narrated by the author who did a fantastic job) was excellent. Anyone who likes history/science/medicine/gross stuff should read this. It's only the second non-fic book I can remember that made me laugh out loud.
M. Benesh
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Firstly, this is an impressive collection of very entertaining case studies from the 19th century. They sometimes have more than a little clear fabrication, but it's fascinating to read and on more than one occasion left me either cringing or laughing.
That said, the author's interjections were at times unnecessary and borderline annoying. Overall, this is a really entertaining book that gives an insight into medical practices at the time of each case.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medlit
Hugely entertaining. You’ll wince, cringe, groan, feel sorry for (most of) these poor souls and often find yourself appalled at the incompetence and recklessness of their physicians. Regular readers of Morris’s blog will be familiar with most of the cases and tales, but the book is still well worth the price.
This is basically a collection of gross, out-dated and peculiar tidbits from medical history grouped into headings such as “Dubious Remedies” and “Remarkable Recoveries.” I thoroughly enjoyed this, although I recommend this only for those with a strong stomach.
Jan 16, 2019 marked it as una-pausa
This book is not appropriate as bedtime reading...
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was exactly as you would expect it to be.
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