New Book! Marketplace of the Marvelous: The Strange Origins of Modern Medicine

Self promotion is not something at which I excel. When my first book came out in 2007 (Odd Wisconsin), some of my friends only learned I was even writing a book when I invited them to my book launch at Barnes and Noble. Epic writer fail.

I’m much better now.


I have a new book coming out! In January! And even though you have to wait just a little bit longer to get your hands on it, some of the first reviews are starting to come in, including this gem from Publishers Weekly:

Janik (Apple: A Global History), series producer for Wisconsin Public Radio’s Wisconsin Life, offers a particular perspective on 19th-century medicine with this survey of “irregular” treatments that Americans embraced as they turned away from standard medicine. Little changed for two centuries, standard medicine’s “heroic” and often deadly offerings were eschewed for practices like heat and herb therapy, hydrotherapy, phrenology, and homeopathy. Janik reveals the significant role women played in the development of these treatments and spread of do-it-yourself medical books, almanacs, and family recipes for healing salves, prophylactics, and popular herbal remedies. Americans loved anything that “gave them the power to treat themselves,” Janik notes—and 19th-century alternative systems did just that. Bottles of ready-to-use homeopathic remedies came in home kits, and Lydia Pinkham’s medicinal brews not only brought neighbors flocking to her door in the 1870s, but her secret vegetable compound is still on the market in at least two variations. Janik argues that “complementary” and “alternative” therapies are just a 20th-century update of irregular medicine—and recognition by Congress, the Mayo Clinic, and major universities proves “the willingness of regular medicine to consider or at least tolerate the merits of their competitors, an almost unimaginable idea less than a century ago.” She’s delivered a must-read for medical history buffs, whether mainstream or maverick.


A “must read?” How awesome is that?

In the dark depths of researching and writing, it can be hard to stay mindful of the big picture. Your inner critic (mine is really, really mean and just never shuts up) can’t see beyond the clunky sentence that’s far from poetry or the argument that could be so much stronger if only… if only you had made a different choice. Or were smarter. Or had any talent at all. There’s so many of those. But you have to keep going and believing in your project despite what your inner critic says. She does keep you humble but then when the book finally comes out, it’s time for that critic to be quiet and celebrate a bit.