Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lotions, Potions, and Deadly Elixirs

Bethard, Wayne. Lotions, Potions, and Deadly Elixirs: Frontier Medicine in the American West. 1st paperback ed. Lanham, MD: Roberts Rinehart, 2013.

Bethard, a Texas pharmacist, has penned a book dealing with medicines used on the frontier up through modern times. The first two sections are a hodge-podge of information on from the types of medicines used and the effects various treatments had. The third part is an alphabetical listing of medicines with brief entries describing the history of their use and dates used medically. Next comes a chronology of frontier medicine that is not strictly limited to medicine. There are entries such as "Lewis and Clark begin expedition." Before the bibliography is a glossary of old medical terms.  The author employs humor in his narrative.  Many of the examples come from Texas, which may be a bit of a weakness in drawing widespread appeal. I believe its chief use will come from consulting the material in section three although many readers will have to look beyond these brief entries for additional information. Still, this is a good resource for persons who have an interest in medicines available in America's earlier days. This review is based on a copy received through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program with the expectation that a review would be written.

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