A very entertaining look at the life of one John R. Brinkley–today all but forgotten–and his goat-gland quackery empire which killed some 40 people, maiming and cheating countless others. Thanks to the tireless efforts of AMA investigator Morris Fishbein, Brinkley’s misdeeds were brought to an end by, of all things, a libel suit.
What is remarkable about Mr. Brinkley is his foresight in using radio to advertise his business, as well as introduce America to country and hillbilly music. Brinkley used this music, either performed live or via phonograph records, to fill the broadcast time in between his own shows such as “Medical Question Box,” in which Brinkley prescribed his own dangerous nostrums for the cure of every ill both physical and mental.
Highly recommended as a companion to other medical history books, “Charlatan” illustrates how America has, since colonial times, often preferred to trust fast-talking hucksters with a cheap cure-all over the advice of licensed professionals.