Riots over the medical use of cadavers. Public access to institutions for the insane. And full-blown surgeries without the aid of anesthetics or painkillers. Welcome to the middle ages of American medicine. Bleed, Blister, Puke, and Purge exposes the extraordinary practices and major players of American medical history, from the colonial era to the late 1800s. It’s hard to believe that today’s cutting-edge medicine originated from such crude beginnings, but this book reminds us to be grateful for today’s medical care, while also raising the question: what current medical practices will be the horrors of tomorrow? – Goodreads
Bleed, Blister, Puke, and Purge Review
Bleed, Blister, Puke, and Purge was actually a surprisingly interesting account of early American medicine. It’s not fixated just on what’s actually happened in America, though that’s the primary focus. It gives a brief, delightfully disgusting look at the evolution of medicine overall. It’s definitely aimed at the older end of ‘young readers’. The book is fairly well put together and contains enough gross facts to delight the little boy in all of us. Well-written, easy to understand, and definitely makes you thankful you live in today’s society instead of a couple hundred years ago.
It could have used a few more pictures. I know that sounds wrong to say, with a title like Bleed, Blister, Puke, and Purge, but it’s almost a wall of text at times. It’s not what the reader expects, given all the cool (terrifying) instruments displayed on the front cover. It’s a little dry at times, a little condescending at others, but overall pretty informative. I liked the section about the role of women in medicine’s history. It made it very clear exactly how far we’ve come, and at the same time it’s easy to realize how far we have to go. Nursing is, after all, still traditionally considered a woman’s job. And how many guys would pick a male doctor over a female doctor given half a chance?
The only thing I didn’t like was that I felt like the author has a bit of disgust for medicine in the past. I mean, to be sure, we’ve done some horrible things in the name of medicine, and some of the ideas are laughable now. However, I honestly believe that a lot of people were doing the best they could. When I look back, I have a respect for how far we’ve come. I also admire the doctors who continued to do their best even when it seemed like they were losing 40+ percent of their patients. Obviously, I’d like to go back in time and smack the quacks, but it is what it is.
Overall, great book for young historians – for people interested in the squeamish side of history in particular. Might be a good gift for the teenagers who are showing an inclination to go into medicine, too. Not a bad job by J. Marin Younker. Bleed, Blister, Puke, and Purge might turn your stomach, but it’ll ignite your mind. Get it now on Amazon.