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A mysterious epidemic of dental explosions, A teenage boy who got his wick stuck in a candlestick A remarkable woman who, like a human fountain, spurted urine from virtually every orifice These are just a few of the anecdotal gems that have until now lain undiscovered in medical journals for centuries. This fascinating collection of historical curiosities explores some of the A mysterious epidemic of dental explosions, A teenage boy who got his wick stuck in a candlestick A remarkable woman who, like a human fountain, spurted urine from virtually every orifice These are just a few of the anecdotal gems that have until now lain undiscovered in medical journals for centuries. This fascinating collection of historical curiosities explores some of the strangest cases that have perplexed doctors across the world. From seventeenth-century Holland to Tsarist Russia, from rural Canada to a whaler in the Pacific, many are monuments to human stupidity – such as the sailor who swallowed dozens of penknives to amuse his shipmates, or the chemistry student who in 1850 arrived at a hospital in New York with his penis trapped inside a bottle, having unwisely decided to relieve himself into a vessel containing highly reactive potassium. Others demonstrate exceptional surgical ingenuity long before the advent of anaesthesia – such as a daring nineteenth-century operation to remove a metal fragment from beneath a conscious patient’s heart. We also hear of the weird, often hilarious remedies employed by physicians of yore – from crow’s vomit to port-wine enemas – the hazards of such everyday objects as cucumbers and false teeth, and miraculous recovery from apparently terminal injuries.


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A mysterious epidemic of dental explosions, A teenage boy who got his wick stuck in a candlestick A remarkable woman who, like a human fountain, spurted urine from virtually every orifice These are just a few of the anecdotal gems that have until now lain undiscovered in medical journals for centuries. This fascinating collection of historical curiosities explores some of the A mysterious epidemic of dental explosions, A teenage boy who got his wick stuck in a candlestick A remarkable woman who, like a human fountain, spurted urine from virtually every orifice These are just a few of the anecdotal gems that have until now lain undiscovered in medical journals for centuries. This fascinating collection of historical curiosities explores some of the strangest cases that have perplexed doctors across the world. From seventeenth-century Holland to Tsarist Russia, from rural Canada to a whaler in the Pacific, many are monuments to human stupidity – such as the sailor who swallowed dozens of penknives to amuse his shipmates, or the chemistry student who in 1850 arrived at a hospital in New York with his penis trapped inside a bottle, having unwisely decided to relieve himself into a vessel containing highly reactive potassium. Others demonstrate exceptional surgical ingenuity long before the advent of anaesthesia – such as a daring nineteenth-century operation to remove a metal fragment from beneath a conscious patient’s heart. We also hear of the weird, often hilarious remedies employed by physicians of yore – from crow’s vomit to port-wine enemas – the hazards of such everyday objects as cucumbers and false teeth, and miraculous recovery from apparently terminal injuries.

30 review for The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    When was the last time one of your teeth exploded? Or how about the time you ate some fresh lettuce out of the garden and two days later garden slugs climbed out of your stomach and into your mouth? Or your grandmother got pregnant at age 75? Or your neighbor swallowed 27 knives and lived? These are the types of curiosities contained in this humorous book written tongue-in-cheek by a medical historian The author researched old books, pamphlets, letters, and doctors notes from the 18th and 19th c When was the last time one of your teeth exploded? Or how about the time you ate some fresh lettuce out of the garden and two days later garden slugs climbed out of your stomach and into your mouth? Or your grandmother got pregnant at age 75? Or your neighbor swallowed 27 knives and lived? These are the types of curiosities contained in this humorous book written tongue-in-cheek by a medical historian The author researched old books, pamphlets, letters, and doctors notes from the 18th and 19th centuries to find the information some of which will make you wince. He warns the reader that the majority of the cases are exaggerations, frauds accepted as truth, and misdiagnosis errors by medical practitioners. Medicine was still pretty much a guessing game during those times and in some cases the author proves how the story absolutely could not be true (such as the man who taught his child to breathe underwater) while others are not probable but could be possible (such as the man who swallowed his false teeth and lived). I think the author had as much fun writing this book as it is to read it. Let's be honest...how many people do you know who urinate through their ear? Funny stuff indeed.

  2. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Sandi ❣

    3.5 stars Wild and wacky! Just plain bizarre! Many cures for many illnesses that would turn your hair pure white if even suggested today. Written by a medical historian, this book delves back to the 19th century, assembled mostly through old medical journals and newspaper clippings. With groupings like "Unfortunate Predicaments" telling of 'honking like a goose'; "Mysterious Illnesses" with 'the woman who peed through her nose'; "Dubious Remedies" with 'the pigeon's rump cure'; "Tall Tales" with 3.5 stars Wild and wacky! Just plain bizarre! Many cures for many illnesses that would turn your hair pure white if even suggested today. Written by a medical historian, this book delves back to the 19th century, assembled mostly through old medical journals and newspaper clippings. With groupings like "Unfortunate Predicaments" telling of 'honking like a goose'; "Mysterious Illnesses" with 'the woman who peed through her nose'; "Dubious Remedies" with 'the pigeon's rump cure'; "Tall Tales" with 'the slugs and the porcupine'; "Hidden Dangers" with 'killed by his false teeth' this book is filled with unbelievable stories of unimaginable situations. The cures are even more bizarre! Hot water bottles, opium, laxatives and leeches were everyday cures and possibly the most sane. These hard to believe illnesses and cures makes our modern medicine such an evolution. But it also testifies as to the resilience of people, who were actually just lab rats at the time. It makes you wonder what of today's medical miracles will become ridiculous, dangerous, and obsolete in the near future. A fun book to read, that will have you both appalled, at some of the stories, yet thankful you live in the current world of medicine.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    Medicine is an ever-evolving profession, and its history can be downright weird. Medical historian Thomas Morris has combed through countless vintage medical journals and historical documents showcasing the progress medicine has made in a relatively short time. His work goes beyond bizarre anecdotes, and instead softens the wonky view of health, breaking into sections ranging from Horrifying Operations to Mysterious Illnesses. Collected here are stories not just of fatal mistakes, but also trium Medicine is an ever-evolving profession, and its history can be downright weird. Medical historian Thomas Morris has combed through countless vintage medical journals and historical documents showcasing the progress medicine has made in a relatively short time. His work goes beyond bizarre anecdotes, and instead softens the wonky view of health, breaking into sections ranging from Horrifying Operations to Mysterious Illnesses. Collected here are stories not just of fatal mistakes, but also triumphs and impossible medical breakthroughs. Who knew pain and poor health could be so funny? The assembled trove of research on maladies and operations are entertaining on their own. The documents in the section discussing the death of the 11th Earl of Kent are morbidly hilarious in their deadpan delivery, but Morris’s asides heighten the material. This carries onto the rest of the book as well. He’s reserved in his delivery, letting source materials speak for themselves, but he knows just how to insert a joke to lighten the mood. It’s necessary when reading about forks stuck in orifices or the ever-present tobacco smoke enema. He doesn’t always hit the obvious jokes, but he hits the right ones. This is not to suggest that Morris only provides comedic relief. While he does poke gentle fun at some of the more ludicrous ideas, he’s careful not to mock everything outright. He gives praise for some fairly ingenious ideas— and some successes, like a successful 18th century self-performed lithotripsy. However, it’s his explorations of the potential justifications for some ideas that sets this book apart. He has no problem digging deep into research in order to uncover why doctors and medical practitioners assumed outrageous (by today’s standards) remedies would work. Sure, placing a dove on the anus as a treatment seems absurd, but there was some bit of reasoning behind it. Most books that present anecdote after anecdote begin losing steam around the halfway point. However, Morris has found a workaround here— and it’s not just because the stories shared are cringe-inducing or groan-worthy. Rather, he’s crafted a well-thought-out text that’s tightly packed and clips along nicely. It’s almost like he’s telling the stories directly to the reader, taunting, “You’ll never believe this next part.” Perhaps most interestingly, Morris challenges readers to not be so sure of our methods today. If we consider the the typical processes of the previous century outlandish now, what will future professionals think of our performance today? If nothing else, we should be thankful we live in a time of anesthesia and antibiotics. Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    3.5 stars A really interesting—if repetitive—look at many of the oddest cases of Western medical history. The cases themselves were fascinating and intriguing. You’ll definitely remember these short notations and leave with some truly horrific visuals. (In case it’s not clear from the title, this medical history text is extremely graphic—if you’re squeamish, I’d pass on this one). However, I wish the author had wrapped these short anecdotes together into a different narrative structure. It was a b 3.5 stars A really interesting—if repetitive—look at many of the oddest cases of Western medical history. The cases themselves were fascinating and intriguing. You’ll definitely remember these short notations and leave with some truly horrific visuals. (In case it’s not clear from the title, this medical history text is extremely graphic—if you’re squeamish, I’d pass on this one). However, I wish the author had wrapped these short anecdotes together into a different narrative structure. It was a boring read, and felt much longer than necessary because it was essentially reading clip after clip of historical reporting...with commentary that felt repetitive in style even as it discussed unique events. In a way, I feel like this book was a million tiny blog posts slammed together. So for that, it’s not an enjoyable book to sit down and read all at once.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Fox

    The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth: And Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine contains a distressing lack of exploding teeth stories. Don't get me wrong, the exploding teeth do make an appearance - and indeed, the first hand accounts of them are even more startling than you might imagine. A report as loud as a gunshot, a molar split in half - these are the sorts of details I was very much looking forward to. Yet only two accounts are in the book, and not much speculation is there as to The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth: And Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine contains a distressing lack of exploding teeth stories. Don't get me wrong, the exploding teeth do make an appearance - and indeed, the first hand accounts of them are even more startling than you might imagine. A report as loud as a gunshot, a molar split in half - these are the sorts of details I was very much looking forward to. Yet only two accounts are in the book, and not much speculation is there as to just why people's teeth were exploding. Luckily, there are many more bizarre tales to be told between this book's covers. I was torn between two or three stars and eventually settled upon two for a few reasons. The book was incredibly entertaining, yes, and there were a whole host of bizarre stories within it. The problems for me arose from the lack of elaboration on each of the cases. The pithy remarks were occasionally amusing, but I think the book would have been better served by diving deeper into fewer stories than the broad brush over many. Quality over quantity, after ll. Nonetheless, this was a very entertaining book and definitely gave me some inspiration for future writing. Who, after all, can forget the image of a child vomiting up live slugs? What about a person sticking a fork up their anus in an attempt to relieve constipation? Or, maybe, a person getting most of their ribs removed while remaining conscious throughout the entire procedure - without any anesthesia? And the enemas. Oh, the enemas. Medical history will probably always amuse me, and this is a fun dip into it. If you want deeper dives and more comprehensive analysis, though, I think the podcast Sawbones is a better starting point.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    Author Thomas Morris compiled cases from various sources--newspapers, books, medical journals, etc.--with some unusual twists. In some instances, things are grotesque, in others just odd. The treatments sometimes bring a little humor to the story. I enjoyed the glimpses of actual headlines or snippets of the books, but this was just a mediocre read for me. Some stories were revulsive. The author uses a lot of quotes from his sources so the original voices do not become lost to the modern reader. Author Thomas Morris compiled cases from various sources--newspapers, books, medical journals, etc.--with some unusual twists. In some instances, things are grotesque, in others just odd. The treatments sometimes bring a little humor to the story. I enjoyed the glimpses of actual headlines or snippets of the books, but this was just a mediocre read for me. Some stories were revulsive. The author uses a lot of quotes from his sources so the original voices do not become lost to the modern reader. I do think it provides good diversion for those interested in the history of medicine. In these times of COVID-19, a look at some of the past's mysterious illnesses may bring a little comic relief--or it may be a little too much like current headlines.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    There are many reasons that I am thankful that I was born when I was. My sex can vote. The FDA and the EPA exist. (For now.) Mostly, I am thankful for all the medical advances of the last century. I am thankful for antibiotics, antisepsis, and anesthetic. After reading Thomas Morris’ The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine, I am unspeakably thankful that I was born decades after doctors prescribed enemas for everything, bleed everyone even if they we There are many reasons that I am thankful that I was born when I was. My sex can vote. The FDA and the EPA exist. (For now.) Mostly, I am thankful for all the medical advances of the last century. I am thankful for antibiotics, antisepsis, and anesthetic. After reading Thomas Morris’ The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine, I am unspeakably thankful that I was born decades after doctors prescribed enemas for everything, bleed everyone even if they were already bleeding, and never, ever washed their hands... Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, for review consideration.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Corinne Wilson

    What a wacky bunch of medical journal entries. I was completely entertained, and memorized a few gruesome tales for the next time I can't extricate myself from conversation with a creep.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aerin

    This is everything I typically want from an audiobook - light, punchy, entertaining, and well-narrated (except for a predictable bit of British-reader-sucks-at-American-accents syndrome). It was exactly as disgusting as I'd hoped, while brimming with delightfully dainty Victorian euphemisms, such as referring to the ass as "the fundament." Do recommend.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kaora

    I really enjoyed this one. It hooked me from page one and I devoured it whenever I found spare time. The human capacity for mischief, misadventure and downright idiocy is apparently a trait that progress cannot eradicate. The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth is a gathering of stories from history that suspend belief in some cases or in some cases just show the strength of the human body. Many of these cases have been documented in medical journals, although some passed through word of mouth and are I really enjoyed this one. It hooked me from page one and I devoured it whenever I found spare time. The human capacity for mischief, misadventure and downright idiocy is apparently a trait that progress cannot eradicate. The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth is a gathering of stories from history that suspend belief in some cases or in some cases just show the strength of the human body. Many of these cases have been documented in medical journals, although some passed through word of mouth and are largely believed to be tall tales, which are included in their own section. Super-mesenteric-vein-expia-thrombosis, the Clinical Sequelae Can Be Quite Atrocious”—the improbable title of an article about a serious complication of appendicitis. Thomas Morris provides a humorous narration that I enjoyed even more than the stories about humans who survived eating knives or bullets through the head. And more importantly, the correct answer to the question “Can you swallow more knives?” is never “All the knives aboard the ship.” Highly recommended as a humorous but interesting read. If not just to remind you of how lucky we are to live in a time where enemas and bleedings are not the answer to EVERYTHING and anesthetic and anesthesia exist.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Grumpus

    The grumpus23 (23-word commentary) Compendium of oddities from the early days of western medicine. While mostly true, they have a "Believe it or not" feel I enjoy.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    “Horrible Histories for Adults” is the tagline: Morris pulls out obscure and hardly believable stories from medical history, as reported in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century books and periodicals, and presents them as a mixture of primary text and modern commentary. I got a poor impression from the first section, which is full of puerile sniggering at penises getting stuck in unlikely places and objects being inserted into orifices. Some of the later sections on bizarre remedies and gruesome su “Horrible Histories for Adults” is the tagline: Morris pulls out obscure and hardly believable stories from medical history, as reported in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century books and periodicals, and presents them as a mixture of primary text and modern commentary. I got a poor impression from the first section, which is full of puerile sniggering at penises getting stuck in unlikely places and objects being inserted into orifices. Some of the later sections on bizarre remedies and gruesome surgeries are of more interest. Overall, there’s too much swallowing of random stuff. This was entertaining enough to keep as a bedside book, but not all I was hoping for considering this was what I treated myself to (new, full-price) with a birthday book token. A favorite line: “‘Injurious excess of exertion’ is a good phrase, and one which I intend to use next time I am feeling too lazy to go out for a run.”

  13. 5 out of 5

    Casey Darnell

    "Trying to impress your friends while under the influence of industrial quantities of alcohol is more often than not a really terrible idea. And more importantly, the correct answer to the question 'Can you swallow more knives?' is never 'All the knives aboard the ship.'" I love reading about weird medical stuff. And this book has a lot of weird stuff. From a young man in 1724 who had a fork lodged in his anus to a man who survived, and recovered fully, other than having a stiff knee, being shot "Trying to impress your friends while under the influence of industrial quantities of alcohol is more often than not a really terrible idea. And more importantly, the correct answer to the question 'Can you swallow more knives?' is never 'All the knives aboard the ship.'" I love reading about weird medical stuff. And this book has a lot of weird stuff. From a young man in 1724 who had a fork lodged in his anus to a man who survived, and recovered fully, other than having a stiff knee, being shot and stabbed with a bayonet. Most of the odd medical cases or dubious remedies offered here are from the 1700's to the early 1900's, and make you extremely thankful that you live in an age of hand-washing and medical care that does not contain leeches or crow bile. I really enjoyed that this book isn't overly scientific. While there's nothing wrong with being scientific, this book is fun to read instead of feeling like homework for high-school biology. It also isn't full of irrelevant anecdotes that draw you away from the hilarious medical anomalies that presented themselves to old school doctors. Also, as a side note, apparently the human yearning to stick things into your butt that don't belong there is not a new thing. People have apparently been fascinated by, and getting things lodged into, the anus for the entirety of medical history.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Scottsdale Public Library

    If you’re a fan of the bizarre or medical mysteries, this is the book for you! Thomas Morris pulls together little known, unusual and sometimes scary medical stories from the period between the 17th and early 20th centuries. Gathered from medical journals and other sources, these tales show the ways doctors tried and even sometimes succeeded to cure people in the days before antibiotics and modern surgery. Some cures are precursors to more modern treatments, while others are blind alleys (pigeon If you’re a fan of the bizarre or medical mysteries, this is the book for you! Thomas Morris pulls together little known, unusual and sometimes scary medical stories from the period between the 17th and early 20th centuries. Gathered from medical journals and other sources, these tales show the ways doctors tried and even sometimes succeeded to cure people in the days before antibiotics and modern surgery. Some cures are precursors to more modern treatments, while others are blind alleys (pigeons to treat convulsions, anyone?) Morris provides the history of the doctors involved and helpfully footnotes the modern names for body parts and cures for the reader, which I liked. He also lets us know what happened to the patient afterwards if that information is available. I found it fascinating and a reminder of why I don’t want to live in the olden times. -Lynn H.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Whitney

    I. Loved. This. Book. The subject matter couldn't be any more in my wheelhouse. The author writes with a great sense of humor and his translation/commentary of the historical documentation is almost always just as entertaining as the subject of the case. I gasped and groaned to myself while reading this book and felt compelled to share (uninvited, usually) the particularly gruesome or weird cases with whomever was unfortunate enough to be within earshot. One thing I will say is while I appreciate I. Loved. This. Book. The subject matter couldn't be any more in my wheelhouse. The author writes with a great sense of humor and his translation/commentary of the historical documentation is almost always just as entertaining as the subject of the case. I gasped and groaned to myself while reading this book and felt compelled to share (uninvited, usually) the particularly gruesome or weird cases with whomever was unfortunate enough to be within earshot. One thing I will say is while I appreciated the "tall tales" section for the dubious medical stories, I felt it was a bit unnecessary when the book was loaded with so many other more credibly (?) noted cases. But, overall a must read if you love weird medical history!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ruth

    Oh my word. This isn't a book to read straight through, but if you don't mind reading in little snippets, you'll be equal parts amused, amazed, and horrified.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

    This is an entertaining and often comedically horrific collection of medical anecdotes gleaned from the pages of old medical journals and physician accounts. It is a fun read, but not for people with queasy stomachs.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Barbara McEwen

    The weird wacky tales you would expect. It wasn't organized overly well and kind of just ended but we are all in it for a shock and a laugh right?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlyn

    This book should be titled “Men Do Stupid Things And Then Their Doctors Write About It; or, When Doctors Are Incredibly Stupid”

  20. 5 out of 5

    Christina Beckwith

    Funny and entertaining, mind blowing and informative. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend to anyone who doesn't have a squeamish stomach.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Elaine

    The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine was a funny, informative and kinda gross read. The author extracts information from old timey leaflets, advertisements, pamphlets, and medical journals about bizarre medical cases and fake medical news, before fake news was even coined. Mr. Morris adds minor sarcastic jokes to some of the articles he summarizes, and makes the old fashioned narrative come alive with his helpful tidbits and explanations. It's li The Mystery of the Exploding Teeth and Other Curiosities from the History of Medicine was a funny, informative and kinda gross read. The author extracts information from old timey leaflets, advertisements, pamphlets, and medical journals about bizarre medical cases and fake medical news, before fake news was even coined. Mr. Morris adds minor sarcastic jokes to some of the articles he summarizes, and makes the old fashioned narrative come alive with his helpful tidbits and explanations. It's like I sometimes say; nothing is grosser than real life.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Holly McIntyre

    I am not certain how this book manages to be both bizarrely interesting and, at the same time, mildly boring. The eleven pages of citations testify to thorough research into the medical literature of Europe and the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. Antique medical terms are helpfully explained. The writing is clear and at times humorous. In the end, however, there are only so many ways to describe the survival of gruesome accidents, the catastrophic results of putting objects where t I am not certain how this book manages to be both bizarrely interesting and, at the same time, mildly boring. The eleven pages of citations testify to thorough research into the medical literature of Europe and the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. Antique medical terms are helpfully explained. The writing is clear and at times humorous. In the end, however, there are only so many ways to describe the survival of gruesome accidents, the catastrophic results of putting objects where they do not belong, or the laughable-if-they-were-not-so-lethal treatments of the time. The book reads as if it were a super-extended column of Ripley’s Believe It or Not. I longed for a context in which to place the anecdotes. What do these tales of illness and treatment tell us about the people and society of two centuries ago? Without context the stories are but freak shows. By the end I had enormous appreciation for what human bodies can sometimes overcome, gratitude that medicine today is not quite so misguided, and a whisper of fear that it may, in fact, be.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    After listening to the first chapter of this, I texted my wife that there was a book she would really like about weird and gruesome medical stories and gave her an abbreviated form of one or two of the ones I'd heard already. I wasn't there when she got the text, but it would only be a little exaggeration to suggest that she dropped everything and ran to her computer to put it on her phone, making it my most successful book recommendation with her to date. By the end of the book, I felt complete After listening to the first chapter of this, I texted my wife that there was a book she would really like about weird and gruesome medical stories and gave her an abbreviated form of one or two of the ones I'd heard already. I wasn't there when she got the text, but it would only be a little exaggeration to suggest that she dropped everything and ran to her computer to put it on her phone, making it my most successful book recommendation with her to date. By the end of the book, I felt completely vindicated in my early recommendation - this book delivers the goods. Even now (she's a bit behind me in the book), we keep talking about the crazy stories that Morris dug up. Stories like The pigeon's rump cure , where unfortunately the obvious question of, "Why did anyone think to try this in the first place?" still remains sadly unanswered. As a side-note, it was not obvious from the book that the author has a blog with more of this kind of stuff on it - I only found that out when trying to google for more information on the pigeon's rump cure. Anyone who reads my other reviews will know that I am deeply suspicious of the popular forms of many disciplines - pop science, pop history, pop economics, etc - because they tend to sensationalize and create narratives to fit the story, but in this book I think Morris managed to come up with something reasonable. The cases are likely sensationalized somewhat by the original reports, but Morris resists the urge to draw any sort of big picture conclusions from them - he's basically saying, "Hey look at this crazy thing that probably happened mostly like this." Note the "probably happened mostly like this" part of it - Morris also injects a bit of skepticism into many of these reports - which is quite the opposite of pop science puffery. I think pretty much the only people likely to be disappointed with this book (other than those who are quite squeamish) are people looking for some sort of in-depth investigative reporting. Morris is mostly working from case studies published in medical journals over 100 years old. I think he does a fair job trying to go a little deeper by trying to probe how what we've learned in medicine would change how the symptoms were viewed, and by trying to give additional biographical details about the people involved, but there are definitely some stories where that information simply doesn't exist and Morris nobly resists the urge to guess. 5 of 5 stars

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ensiform

    [Random Read. 23, History.] A collection of, as the title says, curiosities from 18th and 19th century medical journals. These tales from all over the world are absorbing as long as you are not grossed out by, well, really disturbing material. If you're looking for something to read that will help you exercise by making your muscles contract in sympathetic wincing or your legs cross involuntarily, this book is for you. From the several men who put things up their urethrae to the man whose intesti [Random Read. 23, History.] A collection of, as the title says, curiosities from 18th and 19th century medical journals. These tales from all over the world are absorbing as long as you are not grossed out by, well, really disturbing material. If you're looking for something to read that will help you exercise by making your muscles contract in sympathetic wincing or your legs cross involuntarily, this book is for you. From the several men who put things up their urethrae to the man whose intestines all fell into his (of course horribly distended) scrotal sac, to the woman who urinated out of every orifice, there's something here to fix every reader with hypnotic horror. In addition to learning about the ghastly things that can happen to the human body, there's also a great deal to learn about the treatments of the time, which included mercury, crows' saliva, and bird butts. There may even be a few lessons to be learned here, if for example you are kind of person to accept bets on how many clasp knives you can swallow in one go ("all the ones you have on board" not being the right answer). I personally had to stop reading this after a few cases and go back to something more calming, before attempting it again a few days later. I suspect most readers would feel the same.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Damselflies

    Note: Audiobook review Historical | Medical field | Evolution | Stupidity | Astonishing True Rating: 4.5 rounded upwards because of how amazing the audiobook was Where to start. First of all it is a nonfiction about historical medical cases, but just listening to them you almost just can't believe this is truly a nonfiction, but rather a historical science fiction. The cases are most of the time just outlandish and if you have an interest in anything related to the medical field, this is something Note: Audiobook review Historical | Medical field | Evolution | Stupidity | Astonishing True Rating: 4.5 rounded upwards because of how amazing the audiobook was Where to start. First of all it is a nonfiction about historical medical cases, but just listening to them you almost just can't believe this is truly a nonfiction, but rather a historical science fiction. The cases are most of the time just outlandish and if you have an interest in anything related to the medical field, this is something for you. The narrators are amazing together with how it is written, I feel like to get the full experience you have to listen to the audiobook instead of reading it. You have 2 narrators, 1 of 2, the writer giving their point of view about the medical cases and the second narrator citing snippets from the original source of the medical case (document, book, newspaper, ...) Both of them have a very pleasant voice to listen too. Also how it was written, from the point of view from the writer, it almost feels like someone having a conversation with you about said medical cases. Very very very amusing, to the point of unbelievable and definitely recommend this to either read, or my preferable option, listen to.

  26. 5 out of 5

    mars

    Somewhat of a fun read. The cases were funny, sad and remarkable, some all at once. The treatments by some doctors were even crazier and more entertaining, to think some were orthodox at the time really affirms to me that medicine had such a bizarre history. Probably still bizarre, give it another 100 years and everything today maybe be viewed with the same incredulous, patronizing lens as we view the accounts in this book. They were all astoundingly fascinating though, I think the stories that s Somewhat of a fun read. The cases were funny, sad and remarkable, some all at once. The treatments by some doctors were even crazier and more entertaining, to think some were orthodox at the time really affirms to me that medicine had such a bizarre history. Probably still bizarre, give it another 100 years and everything today maybe be viewed with the same incredulous, patronizing lens as we view the accounts in this book. They were all astoundingly fascinating though, I think the stories that stood out to me the most were the ones of the man swallowing over 30 knives on multiple occassions, and the one of the man who deliberately cut his penis into two halves which I found sad more than amusing. Unfortunately not much on exploding teeth though, I would've appreciated more of them! Nice read. I may have rushed through some parts since I've found some of the author's in-lime comments disengaging and unnecessary at times-- the absurdity of the cases speak for themselves. But I also appreciate the interpretation of the medical jargon.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Marsha

    I could tell from the title that it was going to be humorous. The medicine discussed is from 100 and more years ago, and this results in humorously bad ideas, and frighteningly unsterile and painful techniques! People should have learned that the success of an individual technique did NOT necessarily imply the overall efficaciousness of said technique in all cases. I am so happy that science – and medicine – have improved greatly since then! It is still the case that sometimes doctors can say "I I could tell from the title that it was going to be humorous. The medicine discussed is from 100 and more years ago, and this results in humorously bad ideas, and frighteningly unsterile and painful techniques! People should have learned that the success of an individual technique did NOT necessarily imply the overall efficaciousness of said technique in all cases. I am so happy that science – and medicine – have improved greatly since then! It is still the case that sometimes doctors can say "I'm not sure WHY it works, but it does", but fortunately that attitude is not the ruling one in most cases. It is inconceivable that the idea of "the for humors" was popular as long as it was! The litany of cases is truly interesting, and some of the successes go to show how resilient is the human body! Of course, the resilience of imagination is also pointed out :-)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dustin

    This was a really fun read! If you to know the outlandish, the concerning, unlucky and sometimes foolish ways in which people managed to hurt themselves or get hurt, or the weird ailments they professed to have, this book has it all! Sometimes it brought about a mighty wince or two or a cringe of sympathy from the circumstances. The information is presented in very easily digestible terms that will not have you reaching for a medical dictionary: any foreign terms are described in the footnotes a This was a really fun read! If you to know the outlandish, the concerning, unlucky and sometimes foolish ways in which people managed to hurt themselves or get hurt, or the weird ailments they professed to have, this book has it all! Sometimes it brought about a mighty wince or two or a cringe of sympathy from the circumstances. The information is presented in very easily digestible terms that will not have you reaching for a medical dictionary: any foreign terms are described in the footnotes and there are several humorous asides by the author. My only qualm is that it ended very abruptly, but it was an entertaining enough read that I didn’t mind.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    This book is not for the faint of heart! Many of the stories have gruesome details that make it difficult to read this book without cringing and making a horrified face throughout. One of my complaints is the personality of the author, which is inserted throughout and, in my opinion, makes too much light of serious, painful topics. For example, after one cringe-inducing case, he writes, “Once you’ve dried your tears of mirth, perhaps you’ll spare a thought for the poor fellow” (40). This and oth This book is not for the faint of heart! Many of the stories have gruesome details that make it difficult to read this book without cringing and making a horrified face throughout. One of my complaints is the personality of the author, which is inserted throughout and, in my opinion, makes too much light of serious, painful topics. For example, after one cringe-inducing case, he writes, “Once you’ve dried your tears of mirth, perhaps you’ll spare a thought for the poor fellow” (40). This and other similar sentences were rather off putting, but the book was still overall fascinating.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ben Rogers

    FUN BOOK. Some of these cases are downright gut-wretching but what a read! Throwing up worms, swallowing needles, passing swords in the washroom, spontaneously combusting - this book pulls no punches on the obscure and the outrageous - but all true. I had to take a few mental breaks from this book as it was so gross at times! But fun read, I'll say that again. Just thank goodness we live in this time of modern medicine and that WERE NOT DOING SURGERY ON OURSELVES WITHOUT ANESTHESIA. 4.4/5

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