Arkansas book alert | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Arkansas book alert

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2008 at 8:12 AM

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The NY Times has a sparkling review of a book with great Arkansas interest -- the tale of a quack doctor and Mexican broadcaster, John Brinkley, who implanted goat glands in men to restore virility. The story is well-known and long-told. Here's the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History entry, with their photo of his old hospital.

For Dr. Brinkley, whose story is told with uproarious brio in Pope Brock’s heavenly “Charlatan,” this 1917 epiphany was the beginning of a mercenary miracle. “Dimly he had begun to realize that he was gifted beyond the run of doctors,” Brinkley’s adoring authorized biography would one day explain. That book would also credit Brinkley with “this lovable characteristic of genius, that money is not an aim, or an end in itself, but a means of enlarging the central idea of his life-work.”

Selflessly or otherwise, Brinkley parlayed his goat-gland breakthrough into a unique place in American history. He was much more than just a mere medical quack. In a book so lively that its wild stories are virtually wall-to-wall, Mr. Brock describes early-20th-century America’s endlessly credulous populace, with “the average citizen as guileless as the wide-mouthed shad.” Brinkley and his virility scheme tapped into the nation’s penchant for mumbo-jumbo and hence into opportunities for salesmanship that had been previously unknown.

From the ArkTimes store

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