If It Sounds Like a Quack…: A Journey to the Fringes of American Medicine

PublicAffairs: Perseus. Apr. 2023. 336p. ISBN 9781541788879. $29. MED
Award-winning journalist Hongoltz-Hetling (A Libertarian Walks into a Bear) has written a sardonic indictment of some of the most non-traditional health care treatments in the United States. The author finds the comedy and horror in the earnest curative use of lasers, supplements, and bleach, while shedding serious light on the dangers of these quack treatments. The book also describes the uneven attempts of the FDA to monitor and control poorly tested and potentially dangerous approaches. The desperation in the face of advancing and irreversible illness lends a pathos lens to the tale of this sub-rosa curative industry. Underneath the book’s broad comedy of “healers” convinced of their marvelous wares lies the more tragic story of the desperate customers misled into trusting quackery, possibly to their deaths. The book’s humor is best taken with a dose of compassion and hope for the swindled.
VERDICT A witty and informative examination of several alternative health-care practices in the United States that indicts both pseudo-healers and unsuccessful efforts to regulate them.
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