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Two-Headed Boy, and Other Medical Marvels Paperback – 1 Sep 2004

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Product details

  • Paperback: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (1 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080148958X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801489587
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,414,930 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Please don't stare. Dr Jan Bondeson, author of The Two-Headed Boy and Other Medical Marvels, aims to humanise his subjects and move beyond the standard exploitation of people with extremely visible medical anomalies. Though one might say that he benefits from our undeniable fascination with the extraordinarily different, he writes brief but thorough biographies that show real, three-dimensional people underneath the hair and horns. His medical understanding rivals his historical acuity and the reader will find the interwoven threads of science and culture breathtaking.

Perhaps most intriguing is Bondeson's analysis of eccentric tales with little or no physical documentary evidence, such as the egg-laying Scotsman or the Irish gentle-lady who was said to have given birth to 365 babies at once. He finds many convincing after stripping them of contemporary superstition and embellishment; motivating greater interest in seeking out non-medical anomalies for deeper research. Fans of good old-fashioned freak shows will enjoy the profuse, often charming illustrations and the final chapter on men and women reputed to eat such delicacies as stones and live animals long before Ozzy Osborne made headlines. The Two-Headed Boy and Other Medical Marvels will surprise those looking strictly for cheap thrills, though the subjects are too human to treat lightly. --Rob Lightner --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Bondeson takes another look at those whom some call freaks and medical monstrosities. He examines these strange persons sympathetically, with concern for how they lived, drawing on original, often contemporary descriptions to understand them. . . . Good reading for anyone with a strong stomach, sufficient curiosity, and appreciation for the odd touch of wry humor."--Booklist. June 1, 2000.

"As Bondeson looks at the cases of the so-called "hog-faced women," "dog-faced boys," and "people with horns" throughout history, he shows an acute sensitivity to the nuances of historical interpretation and for the humanity of those whose lives and conditions he chronicles."--Publishers Weekly. May 29, 2000.

"A sober, informative disquisition on the sundry forms that humanity can assume and endure."--Kirkus Reviews. June 15, 2000

"Physician Bondeson . . . looks at cultural, social, and literary aspects as well as morphology of grotesque deforming. . . a brilliant effort. Highly recommended."--Choice, January 2001

"A physician plumbs medical history to expose various anomalies of human development, the lives of the remarkable individuals afflicted, and the social reactions to their extraordinary bodies."--Forecast, Bridgewater, NJ, July 2000.

"Clearly and engagingly written, and with sympathy and tact for those persons maliciously exploited and taunted for their anomalies, Bondeson's Two-Headed Boy is a well-researched, humane, and entertaining work that deserves a larger audience than most university press books generally garner. A highly recommended read."--Tom Bowden, Techdirections

"The number of two-headed boys and hairy-faced girls in Jan Bondeson's new volume of miracles and marvels of medicine is astounding! But their stories illustrate how the myth-making of medicine functioned in a past in which the main means of communication was the broadside. Today with the Internet and a rich web of urban legends, Bondeson's volume serves as a corrective. It is not how far we have come in dealing with the anomalous but how little we have changed in our telling of wondrous stories. Great stories; greater lessons!"--Sander L. Gilman, Henry R. Luce Distinguished Service Professor of the Liberal Arts in Human Biology, The University of Chicago

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