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The Quack Doctor: Historical Remedies for all your Ills Hardcover – 1 Oct 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press; 1 edition (1 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0752487736
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752487731
  • Product Dimensions: 20.1 x 12.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 105,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Caroline Rance is a British writer whose website, www.thequackdoctor.com, focuses on the patent medicines advertised in historical newspapers. The site has twice been shortlisted for the Medgadget blog awards. 'The Quack Doctor: Historical remedies for all your ills', her book about the stories behind Victorian and Edwardian remedies, was published in October 2013. Caroline's historical novel, Kill Grief, set in an eighteenth-century hospital, was originally published in 2009 and is newly released for Kindle.

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About the Author

Caroline Rance is studying for an MA in Medicine, Science, and Society at Birkbeck College, University of London and writes the successful blog "The Quack Doctor," which has been shortlisted twice for the Medgadget medical blog awards. Her novel, set in an 18th-century hospital, was published in 2009. She regularly speaks on quacks and quackery and lives in Buckinghamshire.

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By Mike Paterson on 28 April 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The subtitle of this book is “historical remedies for all your ills” which takes a swipe at the hyperbole which characterised medicine advertising in times gone by, and mainly the 19C on which the Quack Doctor focuses. And these fraudsters advertised massively. Not only was the medium effective, but selling treatments by mail order kept you at a distance from dissatisfied customers a secondary bulwark after the embarrassment of admitting one’s ailment and naivete, as the author points out. The book is richly illustrated by examples of such promotional material. How could the victims be so naïve, we snigger, as our friends and neighbours here in the 21st Century queue up for their aromatherapy, acupuncture, reflexology and other New Age claptrap. No, medical skulduggery has always been with us, but it would seem that the high water mark was during the 19C, both for the vast quantity of it, and its comedic value. The author exploits this wonderfully in her writing style without forgetting to emphasise, with some well-chosen cases, how this industry damaged the lives of individuals and families. But the quack doctors were a shameless breed apart, from the pun-loving Joshua Barratt whose Mandrake logo was a duck with a human head to the Bennett Brothers who tied themselves in mental knots with enough aliases to populate a telephone directory. And then there are the treatments: from harmless sugar water with no curative powers whatsoever, to strap-on belts to restore “many vigour”, to weird mechanical saddles for indoor equestrianism, to highly dangerous home Turkish baths to – worst of all – fake cures for cancer.

The Quack Doctor is assembled in 25 chapters, each representing a particular rogue or treatment, and can therefore be read in any order, every one a bedtime story to oneself. They are funny, sad, pathetic, outrageous and totally absorbing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Mayfield on 1 Feb. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Caroline Rance's masterful grasp of the absolute wonderment of medical advertising in the 19th century makes for a fascinating read. The author knows her intestinal worms, poisons, drugs and frauds. The well chosen illustrations, full of unintentional humour and intentional pathos are an eye-opener. Interwoven in the narrative are breathtaking moments of the reality of the times, as in the mother who kept her baby addicted to opium because any "interruption of her low-paid work could have meant starvation". Sobering indeed. A delightful and very accomplished book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Guy Chapman on 6 Feb. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a romp through the history of quackery, from the hilarious to the outrageous. The stories are more journalistic than scholarly, but the book more than makes up for it by the quality of sources, many of them painstakingly acquired by the author over what must be a long career researching the subject.

I suspect this book is a labour of love. I certainly loved it.
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By RobtXX on 29 Mar. 2014
Format: Hardcover
If you have enjoyed the web site (TheQuackDoctor.com) you will have fun reading the book. There are 25 self-contained chapters each with a story to tell: some amusing and a few sad, even depressing. The subjects are peddlers of quack remedies of the 19th and early 20th century Britain and their customers (victims). Unlike similar collections of tales of quackery, each chapter is documented by contemporary (primary) sources listed in a separate section. There is also a handy index. Well written and sprinkled with reproductions of antique advertisements from British archives and the author's collection.
As a fan of quackery I bought this book (hardback) as soon as it was published!
Readers might also consider this book inspired by Caro's web site:
The Medical Electricians: George A. Scott and His Victorian Cohorts in Quackery
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