Quackery is thriving in the high-tech 90's, according to Young (American Social History/Emory Univ.), author of Toadstool Millionaires (1961), which traced the history of quackery in America up to the Food and Drugs Act of 1906, and Medical Messiahs (1967), which brought the story forward to 1966. Here, Young has edited and updated some of his articles and lectures from the past 25 years, bracketing them with two new essays—one a personal piece on his own continuing fascination with the subject, the other a timely discussion of quackery and AIDS. Young looks at quackery's appeals within the context of America's intellectual history, noting how quackery has benefited from our belief in liberty and in the natural right to succeed. His concern about the persistence of medical fraud is evident in his lecture to health professionals reminding them of their duty to serve as the first line of defense against it, and in his speech before the FDA's policy board urging more vigorous enforcement of regulations. Numerous 19th-century advertisements for patent medicines are included here, inviting comparisons with current nutrition claims and alternative-therapy promotions. Young discusses cancer quackery at some length (especially the Laetrile episode) and observes that it has succeeded by playing on fear, promising painless treatment, claiming miraculous scientific breakthroughs, attributing all cancers to a single cause treatable by a single therapy, and accusing the medical community of conspiring to suppress new therapies. In recent years, AIDS has provided other opportunities to capitalize on fear, ignorance, and suspicion of government, and Young writes knowledgeably about the present crisis. Expert words on a fascinating subject. (Sixty-seven halftones.)

Pub Date: June 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-691-04782-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1992

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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