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January 30, 1960

The Golden Age of Quackery

JAMA. 1960;172(5):508. doi:10.1001/jama.1960.03020050100034

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Mr. Stewart Holbrook, who has distinguished himself as a writer of bizarre episodes in American history, has now produced a most readable work in the area of nostrums and quackery. After confessing that his interest in this subject developed from his acquaintance with the late Mr. Samuel Hopkins Adams, he proceeds to attain an unusual degree of enthusiasm for the subject. Adams (whose exposures in Collier's Magazine at the turn of the century had a profound effect on the promotion of drugs), the A. M. A.'s late Dr. Arthur Cramp, and the iconoclast H. L. Mencken were in the forefront of the fight against quacks, nostrum makers, and cultists.

Mr. Holbrook recounts stories of the amazing success of fraudulent products, attractive but worthless gadgets and schemes, the early history of some old-timers in the nostrum field that are still found on druggists' shelves, alcoholic tonics, "cures" for all kinds of

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