I have to say at the beginning that this book was one of the most entertaining history books I’ve ever read. I don’t often purchase library books to keep for my own library, but this one was a must-buy for future reference (and some rollicking good “quack” stories for this blog someday).
The book was meticulously researched and written by Pope Brock, originally published under the title Charlatan: The Fraudulent Life of John R. Brinkley. The book is about a man by the name of John R. Brinkley, charlatan extraordinaire, who took full advantage of the era of hawking (mostly worthless) patent medicine to a gullible public.
All hucksters of that era had their own shtick – his was curing declining male virility. He came up with an outlandish “surgical procedure” involving (ahem) goat testicles. As outrageous as the whole scheme sounds, John Brinkley became a very rich man, despite the fact that most people discovered too late that his “cure” was a total fraud. He even ran for Kansas governor twice and came close to pulling it off.
The book contains a fair amount of history, not only about John Brinkley, but about the “age of flimflam”. One man was particularly incensed that Brinkley was getting away, in some cases, with near-murder. Morris Fishbein practically made it his life’s work to nail Brinkley once and for all – it just took awhile.
I was surprised to learn that this is only the second book Pope Brock has written and published – the man is a born story teller. There is just enough mild tongue-in-cheek innuendo to make it not only informative but humorous as well. So, if you dare to know more about goat gland transplantation :), pick up a copy at your local library or favorite bookstore – you won’t be disappointed.
Have a GREAT day . . . someday it will be HISTORY!
© Sharon Hall (Digging History), 2015.