Book Review: Quackery by Lydia King


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

In Quackery, Lydia King provides a hilarious look at some of the most outrageous medical practices throughout history. Teething baby? Mercury cream will calm them right down. Want a pill you can take and still hand down to your kids? Try antimony tablets! IPA too bland for your tastes? Strychnine will provide the bitter buzz you crave! From cocaine tooth drops to lobotomies to irradiated water to tobacco smoke enemas, this book covers an amazing amount of snake oil, some touted by the medical minds of their day and some not.

The book is incredibly entertaining and liberally sprinkled with photos and drawings (some truly nightmare inspiring). This is one of those science books you can read and not even realize how much information you’re learning. Want to find out which cutting edge medical treatment contributed to the deaths of Byron, Mozart, and George Washington? Which animal’s testicles you should wear around your neck to prevent pregnancy? Or why corn flakes are part of an anti-masturbation diet? Look no further!

Any one who likes a good dose of humor with their nonfiction will enjoy this book. If you like Mary Roach‘s writing, Unmentionable by Therese Oneill, or any other books in that vein, this book was meant for you.

An advanced copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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