Mark Twain and Medicine: "Any Mummery Will Cure"

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Missouri 2011 Trade paperback Very Good. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 362 p. Contains: Illustrations, black & white. Mark Twain and His Circle (Paperback).

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Overview

 Mark Twain has always been America’s spokesman, and his comments on a wide range of topics continue to be accurate, valid, and frequently amusing. His opinions on the medical field are no exception. While Twain’s works, including his popular novels about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, are rich in medical imagery and medical themes derived from his personal experiences, his interactions with the medical profession and his comments about health, illness, and physicians have largely been overlooked.

In Mark Twain and Medicine, K. Patrick Ober remedies this omission. The nineteenth century was a critical time in the development of American medicine, with much competition among the different systems of health care, both traditional and alternative. Not surprisingly, Mark Twain was right in the middle of it all. He experimented with many of the alternative care systems that were available in his day—in part because of his frustration with traditional medicine and in part because he hoped to find the “perfect” system that would bring health to his family.

Twain’s commentary provides a unique perspective on American medicine and the revolution in medical systems that he experienced firsthand. Ober explores Twain’s personal perspective in this area, as he expressed it in fiction, speeches, and letters. As a medical educator, Ober explains in sufficient detail and with clarity all medical and scientific terms, making this volume accessible to the general reader.

Ober demonstrates that many of Twain’s observations are still relevant to today’s health care issues, including the use of alternative or complementary medicine in dealing with illness, the utility of placebo therapies, and the role of hope in the healing process.

Twain’s evaluation of the medical practices of his era provides a fresh, humanistic, and personalized view of the dramatic changes that occurred in medicine through the nineteenth century and into the first decade of the twentieth. Twain scholars, general readers, and medical professionals will all find this unique look at his work appealing.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is the kind of book that shatters scholarly complacency by forcing us to reconsider old assumptions. Everyone who studies Mark Twain is familiar with his books' scattered references to quack doctors and nostrums and knows that he devoted his last years to seeking health cures for himself and his family. What Dr. K. Patrick Ober's fascinating new book does is lift our understanding of these subjects to unexpected new levels, convincingly demonstrating the centrality of medicine to Twain's life and work. My prognosis is that after you read this book, you'll ask yourself why you ever before thought that you understood Mark Twain."—R. Kent Rasmussen, author of Mark Twain A to Z

"Mark Twain and Medicine lights up a major yet neglected side of Twain's personal and family life and even many passages in his writings. Though Ober doesn't try to draw humor from a subject that is as serious as it is fundamental to how humans confront mortality, Twain as the key exhibit gives it both ongoing interest and continually flickering ironies."—Louis Budd

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826219657
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2011
  • Series: MARK TWAIN & HIS CIRCLE Series , #1
  • Edition description: 2
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 1,125,669
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

K. Patrick Ober is Professor of Internal Medicine and Associate Dean for Education at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

The Mark Twain and His Circle Series, edited by Tom Quirk and John Bird

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