A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities: A Compendium of the Odd, the Bizarre, and the Unexpected
"Dr. Bondeson dissects a dozen . . . examples of human credulity with the scalpel of a forensic historian, and the result is a colorful collection of true detective stories." ― Richard D. AltickIn this book of amazing oddities, Jan Bondeson explores unexpected, gruesome, and bizarre aspects of the history of medicine. He regales us with stories of spontaneous human combustion; vicious tribes of tailed men; the Two-Headed Boy of Bengal; Mary Toft, who allegedly gave birth to seventeen rabbits; and Julia Pastrana, exhibited around the world as the Ape Woman. Bondeson combines an historian's skill in showing us our timeless fascination with the grotesque with a physician's diagnostic abilities, as he examines the evidence and provides likely explanations for these peculiar events. "Fascinating. . . . Well-researched and extensively illustrated with items from [Bondeson's] personal collection, it covers a wide range of medical monstrosities, and there is something for everyone." ― The Lancet "Entertaining in the simultaneously creepy and amusing way of a carnival sideshow. . . . Bondeson is quick to acknowledge absurdity, and his wry humor, along with his strong personal judgments, spice up the book." ― Publishers Weekly "Bondeson . . . regards his exhibits with a careful scientist's eye, discovering misinterpreted evidence, tragic genetic mutations, and, occasionally, outright fraud." ― Library Journal Ilustrations
The history of medicine is a tale of human attempts to understand, explain, and predict the workings of nature. Sometimes those attempts can take strange turns, as Jan Bondeson shows in this diverting collection of medical oddments. A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities takes in matters such as stomach-dwelling snakes, not-unjustified fears of being buried alive, gigantism, lice-borne diseases, spontaneous combustion, and assorted monstrosities. Bondeson, a London-based medical researcher, combs out-of-the-way archives to populate his essays with strange case studies, among them the story of the California Indian Julia Pastrana, "a normal, intelligent woman of gentle disposition" who, owing to her unfortunate werewolf-like appearance, spent much of her life as a circus freak. Bondeson retells Pastrana's tragic tale, and many others, with sympathy and imagination. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. YA?This clutch of essays covers topics one is likely to see in supermarket tabloids: spontaneous combustion, premature burial, tailed people, and serpents living within the body. Bondeson presents these topics in their historical perspective, based on copious research and illustrated with archival drawings, and then explains the more likely cause for the phenomenon or belief. His dry wit makes for entertaining reading. The remaining essays describe some documented cases of human oddities?a giant, a two-headed boy, an extremely hairy and deformed woman, and a child no larger than a new-born infant?and illustrate the physical and emotional baggage carried by these unfortunate people. Notes for additional reading are provided for each chapter; there is no index. Thus, accessibility as a research tool will rely on detailed subject cataloguing, but the book is worth the effort because it provides teens with a source for accurate medical information about some unusual human conditions and ideas.?Carol DeAngelo, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VACopyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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