If the thought of visiting the doctor or having a spell in the hospital gives most people pause to contemplate their mortality, then such thoughts must pale when compared to the experiences of our ancestors. They were largely at the mercy of a medical fraternity renowned more for the eccentricity of their cures than their efficacy. From the pisse prophets who would gaze upon a patient’s urine to establish the most accurate diagnosis, to the pushers of such remedies as “Walkers Jesuit Drops” to cure venereal disease, “Quacks” is a thrilling history of opportunists, charlatans, conmen, some deludedly sincere doctors, and–ultimately–of our own enduring credulity.
‘An entertaining account of the efficacy, or otherwise, of patent medicines’ — History Today
‘Hugely entertaining’ — BBC History Magazine
‘a delightful book’ — The Daily Telegraph
‘entertaining… the joy of this book lies in the colourful characters’ — The Mail on Sunday
‘fascinating… Quite often it seems that the cures were more unpleasant than the symptoms’ — Heritage Today: The Magazine for Members of English Heritage