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Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities / Edition 1

A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities / Edition 1

by Jan Bondeson Ph.D., Jan Bondeson
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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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393318920
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 04/17/1999
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 775,875
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Jan Bondeson, a physician, holds a Ph.D. in experimental medicine and works at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology in London.

Table of Contents

Spontaneous Human Combustion
The Bosom Serpent
The Riddle of the Lousy Disease
Giants in the Earth
Apparent Death and Premature Burial
Mary Toft, the Rabbit Breeder
Maternal Impressions
Tailed People
Three Remarkable Specimens in the Hunterian Museum
The Strange Story of Julia Pastrana
Note on Sources

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A Cabinet Of Medical Curiosities 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ConnieJo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was an interesting book, and much different than I thought it would be. Most of the chapters focus on a single issue (spontaneous human combustion, maternal impressions, the lousing disease) and look at cases dating anywhere from 500-100 or so years ago, discussing the various medical hypotheses used to explain the conditions. My favorites were the chapters on spontaneous combustion (apparently it was thought for awhile that it was the result of drinking too much, and people would sleep with their mouths open after drinking to let the fire out) and "bosom serpents," or creatures that one vomited up (which was thought to be a legitimate ailment, cured when the subject was given horse urine, which, as the author states, I'm sure prevented any further cries for attention in that way).The only thing about it I didn't like, actually, were the last two chapters. One is on three people who found themselves in the Hunter collection. The discussion of Hunter as a surgical pioneer was quite interesting, but I was less interested in the subjects themselves (an extremely diminutive 9-year-old "fairy", a very tall man, and the skull of a child born with a parasitic twin head coming out of the top of its head). That sort of set the book into the realm of the "freak show," which was apparently the way all three of these individuals made their living in life.The last chapter is on Julia Pastrana, which was extremely interesting if only because he goes into great detail about her body being mummified and exhibited for more than 100 years after her death. She was a woman born with some severe cranial and facial deformations as well as a disorder which gave her a lot of body hair, so she looked very simian, and again, she made her living this way. Her "husband" made his living this way as well, and continued to do so long after her death. After she was (remarkably well) preserved, she was dressed and bejeweled and exhibited with her son by her husband, then sold off again and again over the years.I would have preferred the book stick to eccentric medical ailments which have since been explained by modern science since I wasn't quite comfortable with the last two chapters. Of course, Julia Pastrana is right there on the front of the book, so I knew it was coming, but still.