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Book A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities: A Compendium of the Odd, the Bizarre, and the Unexpected

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A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities: A Compendium of the Odd, the Bizarre, and the Unexpected

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities: A Compendium of the Odd, the Bizarre, and the Unexpected.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Jan Bondeson Ph.D.(Author)

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"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. Altick

In 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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Book details

  • PDF | 256 pages
  • Jan Bondeson Ph.D.(Author)
  • W. W. Norton & Company (April 17, 1999)
  • English
  • 2
  • Science & Math

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Review Text

  • By A customer on April 16, 1999

    This book is the one to read if you want to know more about spontaneous combustion, snakes living as parasites in the human stomach, two-headed people, tailed men, giants and dwarfs, and Julia Pastrana the Nondescript. The chapter on premature burial is particularly ghoulish and gruesome, and seems to have inspired a very good TV documentary on this subject, recently sent on the Discovery Channel. The author is obviously a medical scientist, but he has the rare talent of writing in a way that appeals to the general reader. Stylish, well written and with lots of amazing illustrations, this book is well worth its price.

  • By A customer on October 7, 2003

    I do not think this is the type of book you want to buy if you are looking for a book with alot of photos of "freaks". This is a book that describes amazing things that people once believed and then it gives some evidence as to whether or not it really happened. I bought a whole bunch of books related to medical curiousities and "freaks" and I find this one to be the most interesting out of all of them. It is so well written that it teaches you alot about folklore and history without boring you. In fact it is quite a page turner and I often have a hard time putting it down! I've read it over and over again.

  • By A customer on July 9, 2000

    In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (and even more recently), medical and natural history museums combined elements of science and folklore with an infatuation for the bizarre and grotesque. Thus, they were often likened to the old-time "cabinet of curiosities", displays of disparate and unusual artifacts which bore no relationship to one another. A visitor to these museums often saw things which, in later years, became the staple of carnival side shows.In "A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities", Jan Bondeson, a British physician who also holds a doctorate in experimental medicine, has written a fascinating and brilliantly executed textual analogue to the cabinet of curiousities. In successive chapters, Bondeson details, among other curiousities, the histories of spontaneous human combustion, apparent death and premature burial, maternal impressions (the belief that what a pregnant woman sees and experiences can cause corresponding alterations in the unborn fetus), and people with tails. Bondeson tells true, and not so true, stories of dwarfs and giants. He relates the story of Mary Toft, the English woman who, in 1726, was believed to have given birth to seventeen rabbits. And, of course, such a compendium of marvels would not be complete without a bearded lady--in this case, Bondeson narrates the remarkable life story of Julie Pastrana, who made appearances throughout the world in the mid-nineteenth century and whose mummified body (along with the mummified corpse of her infant child) continued to draw crowds at fairs and carnivals many years after her death.While these topics may seem grotesque, even repulsive, Bondeson writes with deep feeling for his human subjects and a wry sense of humor for the foibles of his sometimes credulous profession. He also integrates these seemingly freakish and disparate topics into remarkably lucid and informative discussions of their place in the medical, scientific, religious, and literary discourse of their times.

  • By Wolf Forrest on December 28, 2012

    Bonderson enlightens us with historical oddities, from spontaneous human combustion to "giants in the earth". His thorough research may give the average reader more than he ever wanted to know about "those who are different from us", but putting everything in context allows the reader to see things from a perspective rarely afforded those who are stuck in the present.

  • By A customer on June 15, 2001

    "A Cabinet Of Medical Curiosities" is an interesting book. I expected better photos, not hand drawings.

  • By George Poirier on February 29, 2016

    In this intriguing book, the author explores various oddities in the medical world of the past few centuries. Spontaneous human combustion, premature burial and various animals appearing in one’s stomach are just some of the topics discussed. In other chapters, specific individuals are profiled who had unusual anatomical features, e.g., very tall people, an individual with two heads, a hairy/bearded lady and a tiny person with remarkable talent. All subjects are discussed from a historical perspective as well as a modern medical one. In fact some chapters contain a fair amount of medical jargon with which I, as a layman, was not at all familiar.The author’s prose is clear, lively and quite captivating. In fact, in some of the chapters exploring topics that today seem totally ridiculous, wry humor is occasionally used is a most clever way. This book should be of particular interest to those with a fascination for the bizarre, the unusual and the simply outrageous.

  • By Critic on September 11, 2016

    Dr. Bondeson writes an informative and entertaining look back at some of the strange, humorous, and tragic results of our forebears' ignorance and superstition. If you enjoy Mary Roach's informed yet tongue-in-cheek tone, you will enjoy A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities as well.

  • By Karen Vincent on May 12, 2014

    I loved Sam Keane's books and he mentioned several other books that his readers might enjoy. This was one of them, but if you love real science, don't bother. It is mostly a collection of myths, legends, and old wives tales. I was really disappointed and in a perfect world would have demanded my money back.


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