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Marketplace of the Marvelous: The Strange Origins of Modern Medicine Hardcover – January 7, 2014


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Marketplace of the Marvelous: The Strange Origins of Modern Medicine + Strange Medicine: A Shocking History of Real Medical Practices Through the Ages
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1 edition (January 7, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080702208X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807022085
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #435,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Conventional medical treatment in nineteenth-century America was a high-risk, low-reward venture—a dangerous and not very effective path to recovery. Dubbed “heroic therapy,” the usual remedy for most ailments involved some scary combination of bloodletting, blistering, and purging (with liberal administration of laxatives and emetics). The side effects of this therapy, along with dismal results, opened the door for a variety of alternative healing methods. Historian Janik chronicles the rise and fall and renewed popularity of alternative medicine. Alternative healers tended to reach out to women (recognizing their role as caregivers in the family) and tapped into the prevailing mind-set of Americans, who thought of themselves as self-reliant. Some of these remedies have persisted and prospered: manual manipulation and adjustments (by chiropractors and osteopaths), hypnosis, and the use of botanic medicines. Others have had less success and staying power: phrenology (reading the topography of the skull), magnetic healing, and hydropathy (treatment with cold water). Oscillating between arousing feelings of hope and doubt, alternative medicine in America endures. --Tony Miksanek

Review

“A must-read for medical history buffs, whether mainstream or maverick.”
Publishers Weekly

“A thorough, informative history of the many eccentric narratives that make these quack sciences so interesting and important to modern medicine.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Historian Janik chronicles the rise and fall and renewed popularity of alternative medicine.”
Booklist

“Erika Janik’s survey of alternative therapies hums with strange ideas and even odder characters.”
Boston Globe

“[Janik] offers full and fair accounts of the origins, rationales and fortunes of [these] alternative practices.”
Wall Street Journal

“[Janik] is especially good at delineating the history of women.”
CHOICE, recommended review

“A must read for those in the natural and alternative health industry.”
The Herbal Collective

“Marketplace of the Marvelous
 is well served by Janik's training as a historian. The observations of the misfit margins that she explores are both keen and cutting—she is as evenhanded as she is graceful when describing the turbulent first half of the nineteenth century, and draws clear connections between modern medical theory and its early influences.”
The Source Weekly

“Erika Janik’s Marketplace of the Marvelous is a rare achievement: both entertaining narrative for the curious reader and valuable resource for the serious scholar. I wish I’d had it when writing my biographies of prominent nineteenth-century women, as easily seduced by the promised cures of pseudoscience as so many others in the era of brutally “heroic” medicine, with its tortuous treatments of bloodletting, blistering, and mega-doses of mercury. Janik rightly traces many of our contemporary notions of healthy living to early crackpot remedies—drinking plenty of water, regular exercise, massage, herbal medicines. In this remarkable volume Janik summons up a vanished world of visionaries and cranks who were indeed both marvelous and modern.”
—Megan Marshall, author of The Peabody Sisters and Margaret Fuller: A New American Life

“Astronomy was preceded by Astrology. Modern medical science was preceded by snake oil and homeopathy. Janik tells a compelling story, in graceful prose, of what happens when error, greed and fashion  rule the marketplace of medical ideas. What Lewis Thomas called ‘The Youngest Science’—medicine based on cell and molecular biology—is young, indeed; and this fine book reminds us of how far we have come.”
Gerald Weissmann, MD, author of Epigenetics in the Age of Twitter 

“An engaging romp through more than a century of irregular medicine, from the kookiness of phrenologists and mesmerists to the excessive claims of snake-oil salesmen and Thomsonian botanical practitioners. Erika Janik explores these medical byways with both skepticism and respect, showing how their often-derided practitioners were pioneers (at times unwittingly) in the exploration of placebo effects, psychotherapy, the importance of exercise, disease prevention, and patient engagement in their own care—elements that have been gradually absorbed into mainstream medical practice. It’s a fun read and eye-opening from start to finish.”
—David Hellerstein, MD, professor of psychiatry, Columbia University Medical Center, and author of Heal Your Brain

More About the Author

Erika Janik is the award-winning author of Odd Wisconsin, A Short History of Wisconsin, Madison: A History of a Model City, Apple: A Global History, and Marketplace of the Marvelous: The Strange Origins of Modern Medicine (Beacon Press, Jan. 2014). She is the recipient of a 2011 Wisconsin Historical Society Award of Merit for History Writing, 2009 North American Travel Journalists Association award for historical travel writing as well as the 2007 William B. Hesseltine Award. Her work has appeared in many publications, including Smithsonian.com, Mental Floss, The Onion, MyMidwest, Wisconsin Trails magazine, On Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Magazine of History, as well as on Wisconsin Public Radio. Originally from Redmond, Washington, she now knows more about Wisconsin than she ever thought possible. In her spare time, she's the producer and editor of "Wisconsin Life" at Wisconsin Public Radio.

Customer Reviews

Well written and interesting book dealing with 19th century alternative medicines.
Becky (NOLA)
There were many times in reading this book that I felt the need to go get a red editing pencil and cut out superfluous sentences and paragraphs.
Jessica W.
It makes you think about some of the things we accept today as "of course it works!" without really understanding why it works.
Debbie

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This very intelligent, informed, fascinating and entertaining book will likely appear on the bestseller list - if the PR for it is on its toes. Erika Janik has researched the history of medicine, particularly medicine in the United States from the 17th century to the present and has uncovered some gripping information that should alter the manner in which holistic medicine is viewed today. While more and more people are struggling to get off the obesity wagon and the chronic disease train and finally paying attention to nutrition, forsaking processed foods and fast foods and refined sugar etc, and acknowledging the importance of daily exercise, paying attention to pollution and its effects on our environment, and embracing Eastern medicine in the form of acupuncture and meditation – while these changes are gaining hold of our thinking, Erika Janik has explored the origins of the current forms of medical advances and made some rather startling discoveries that deserve widespread acknowledgment.

In a book sprinkled with old photographs and minibiographies of such people like Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, Mary Baker Eddy, Samuel Thomson and many more – names that put faces to incidents and trends so that we can connect more easily – Janik discusses the origins of snake oil (many types actually contained viable medical cures such as quinine for malaria, etc), phrenology, hydropathy (the importance of baths and of hydration by drinking copious amounts of water each day as a means of staying healthy or combating disease), homeopathy, patent medicines, osteopathy, chiropractic, hypnosis, phlebotomy (blood letting) and other branches of alternative medicine.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By PT Cruiser TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Erika Janik has obviously done a great deal of research on both alternative and mainstream medicine which she details in this interesting and entertaining book. She tells us about hydropathy, homeopathy, phrenology, hypnosis, patent medicine, chiropractic care. Some of these are still with us today but not always in the same form as they were at their beginnings. She details some of the colorful characters behind them and tells about the changes in the way they were practiced over the years. It was a little disturbing to me to read about "regular" medicine in the 19th and early 20th century and how primitive and harsh and ineffective some of the treatments were. They really weren't better than some of the alternative methods. Until doctors were aware of germs and created antibiotics, it seems to me there wasn't a definitive method of treating bacterial infections.

Reading about some of the treatments, it seems like both alternative and regular medicine caused as much harm as good. Much of it seems so primitive today. But I wonder if years from now people will think today's treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation treatments were primitive and often harmful and that alternative treatments were almost as good? Janik's book made me think about how far we've come but also about how far we have to go.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By tachi1 TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am fascinated by modern remedies and am somewhat of a self-healer—always looking for that nutrient or that vitamin that will turn me healthy and slim. I read every article about the latest miracle supplement so I figured this book would be right up my alley, and I was mostly right.

It is incredible how many crazy theories captured the contemporary imagination, at least for a while. If anything is missing from this book, I have no idea what it could be since the breadth and scope are so wide: water cures, mind cures, diagnosis by head shape, something called mesmerism which was supposed to be magnetic in origin but resembles hypnotic suggestion. Of course, the usual thing you would expect of bleeding, purging, etc. All of the theories were serious in their time and the author treats them with academic respect—quite a feat at times.

As we get further into the book we go into homeopathy (which is still active today and which was the first attempt at quantified and tested scientific research. There is chiropractic science, also still practiced though (hopefully) with a bit more care. And my favorite chapter: patent medicines. I can just imagine myself cooking up my own medicinals, as the woman of each house was bound to do. I had read before that Coca-cola started out as a patent medicine and the book confirmed it. As it happens, so did Dr. Pepper, Phillips Milk of Magnesia, and Luden Brothers cough drops. The book is just full of fun little facts like these.

I only have two negatives to mention and they deserve to be treated as minor since they reflect personal preferences:

**the first is that there might just be too much detail. This is sort of an academic treatise and it isn’t fast reading, fascinating as the subject might be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lauri Crumley Coates VINE VOICE on February 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This offers a great look at the origins of medicine, the humorous snake oil potions, and the nearly miracle world of medicine we see today. It is a scientific read, but reads like an entertaining look into the past, present and future. If you are a history buff, you'll find great knowledge here. If you are a healer or natural medicine buff, you'll find so much information here, it's mind boggling. Well researched and written in easy to understand terms, everyone will find something to enjoy here, and no doubt learn much too.
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