Saturday, February 23, 2008
A book you must read to believe
Not for theology or to improve your self understanding but because it is so much fun and so amazing and it is all true.
Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam is authored by Pope Brock.
There was a craze in the 20's and 30's in which the reproductive organs of animals (goats mostly) were transplanted into people to reinvigorate them in all phases of life. Of course it was a giant scam that killed many. John Brinkley was chief among them. He was also influential in developing: medical hucksterism, snake oil pharmaceuticals, the birth of AM radio as we know it (Wolfman Jack later took over the station Brinkley started), modern political advertising, and got fabulously rich in the 1930's. It is an amazing story.
Here is blurb from Amazon:
John Brinkley, who grew up poor in rural North Carolina but attended Rush Medical College in Chicago, got his start touring as a medicine man hawking miracle tonics and became famous for transplanting goat testicles into impotent men. Brinkley built his own radio station in 1923, hustling his pseudoscience over the airwaves and giving an outlet to astrologers and country music. His nemesis was Dr. Morris Fishbein, the buoyant, compulsively curious editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association whose luminary friends included Sinclair Lewis, Clarence Darrow and H.L. Mencken. Fishbein took aim at Brinkley in JAMA, lay publications and pamphlets distributed by the thousands. Even after the Kansas State Medical Board yanked his medical license in 1930, Brinkley ran twice for governor of Kansas and almost won. Finally, Brinkley sued Fishbein for libel and lost in a spectacular showdown.