Click to receive personalized book recommendations daily.
Check Out These
21 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read
See the List
Best Seller
The Strange Case of Dr. Couney by Dawn Raffel

The Strange Case of Dr. Couney

The Strange Case of Dr. Couney by Dawn Raffel
Hardcover
Jul 31, 2018 | 304 Pages
See All Formats (2) +
  • Hardcover $27.00

    Jul 31, 2018 | 304 Pages

  • Ebook $12.99

    Jul 31, 2018 | 304 Pages

Buy the Audiobook Download:

Product Details

Praise

Advance Praise for The Strange Case of Dr. Couney

“With colorful descriptions of the carnival world and the medical marvels of early neonatalogy, Raffel makes a fascinating case for this unusual pioneer’s rightful place in medical history.” 
Publisher’s Weekly

“Compelling on many levels… Raffel’s arresting and illuminating work of hidden history should not be missed.” – Booklist

“Many readers will share Raffel’s admiration of Couney… The book’s title is no hype; this is a startling account of an improbable huckster who made his living promoting a lifesaving device.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Long before modern neonatal clinics made it possible and even commonplace to save premature babies, Dr. Couney’s “infant incubators” welcomed the “tiniest bits of humanity” into the world with two drops of brandy and a show name.  A fantastic, carnivalesque story filled with twists and surprises, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney entertains with a delightful assortment of historical oddities and a serious, sobering look at health practices, missteps, and unexpectedly resourceful advances in American medicine.”
-Kristen Iversen, author of Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats

“This astonishing new book will be an instant classic of literary nonfiction—painstakingly researched and written with lyricism and irony. Dawn Raffel has pulled the curtain on one of the most remarkable rescue missions in history. Over seven thousand innocent lives saved at a time when medical science turned its treasonous back.”
-Dennis Covington, author of National Book Award finalist Salvation on Sand Mountain

“In carnival midways in the early decades of the 20th century—amid carousels, elephants, fire-eaters, and pie-eating contests—a gentleman of indeterminate origin, of unspecified medical background, displayed premature human babies in incubators that looked like arcade games. They were real babies, not wax; struggling to live; at home among the “Human Oddities!” of the side-shows only because preemies weighing two or three pounds at birth didn’t ever survive, had rarely been seen. Fair-goers bought tickets and lined up to gawk at them, and were asked to refrain from trying to reach in and poke the infants. Though Dr. Couney (both the prefix and the name were inventions) was more showman than doctor, he saved the babies’ lives by the thousands and pioneered American neonatology. His story is richly told in a book that savors every honk of John Philip Sousa from a marching band, every salty crunch of carnival popcorn, every sparkle of a Ferris wheel turning in a night sky, and the desperate hopes of parents traveling from their lying-in hospitals by bus or subway to the carnivals, carrying their premature newborns in shoe boxes and hat boxes or inside their coats.”
-Melissa Fay Greene, two-time National Book Award finalist for Praying for Sheetrock and The Temple Bombing

“A compelling historic mystery uncovered.”
Saturday Evening Post

Looking for More Great Reads?
Download our Spring Fiction Sampler Now
Back to Top