Imagine a time when people believed that relieving pain was sinful; therefore medical procedures should hurt a lot! Mr. Belofsky presents a short look at some of the stranger treatments used by medical practitioners throughout the ages. Organized mostly by chronology, the book skims through an amazing number of treatments that will leave the reader giggling, gasping, and occasionally shuddering with horror. This is one of those books to be read aloud, or at least have an audience handy to share choice tidbits with.
Mr. Belofsky covers some of the more well-known practices such as leeches, blood-letting, and lobotomy. The more fascinating tales include eating cooked mice to cure bedwetting, the wealth of cures for wet dreams, and fun with acid. The tales also include some of the medical sidelines, such as the practice of binding books in human skin, stealing corpses, and the many uses for dead human parts in medical treatments. Mr. Belofsky writes with a gentle humor that keeps the tone of the book from drifting too far into the macabre.
Unfortunately, I often found myself longing for more information and greater detail. Instead of presenting any practice in-depth or presenting a string of treatments together under an overarching theme, Strange Medicine gives a couple of pages of description per treatment and jumps all over the place. It’s great if you are reading a treatment at a time then taking a break, or if you are a huge fan of trivia. However, despite being easy to read, it lacked cohesion when reading it straight through.
The writing failed to adequately explain terms and concepts. In some cases, where I had a little bit of background, I wondered if Mr. Belofsky understood what he was writing about. It felt like he simply repeated what his sources said without understanding it fully. Oh, and Mr. Belofsky forgot to write an ending. I’m reading along through a description of lobotomies, turn a page, and find the bibliography. I actually flipped back and forth a couple of times in disbelief. There was no wrap-up or conclusion; the book simply stopped. I can honestly say that I’ve never run into that particular surprise in a book before; I’ve always known the ending when I came to it.
I did enjoy the book. I read it while on a road trip with my family, which allowed me to keep everyone amused by reading bits and pieces of it aloud. I happen to be one of the people who love collecting odd trivia and know that I’ll refer back to this one often for choice tidbits.
Sara Drake has been an avid reader since a young age. She has both a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling and a Master’s in History.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Perigee Trade. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.