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The Two-Headed Boy, and Other Medical Marvels

A successor to his popular book A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities, this new collection of essays by Jan Bondeson illustrates various anomalies of human development, the lives of the remarkable individuals concerned, and social reactions to their extraordinary bodies. Bondeson examines historical cases of dwarfism, extreme corpulence, giantism, conjoined twins, dicephaly, and extreme hairiness; his broader theme, however, is the infinite range of human experience. The dicephalous Tocci brothers and Lazarus Colloredo (from whose belly grew his malformed conjoined twin), the Swedish giant, and the king of Poland's dwarf-Bondeson considers these individuals not as "freaks" but as human beings born with sometimes appalling congenital deformities. He makes full use of original French, German, Dutch, Polish, and Scandinavian sources and explores elements of ethnology, literature, and cultural history in his diagnoses. Heavily illustrated with woodcuts, engravings, oil paintings, and photographs, The Two-Headed Boy and Other Medical Marvels combines a scientist's scrutiny with a humanist's wonder at the endurance of the human spirit. Contents: The Two Inseparable Brothers, and a Preface The Hairy Maid at the Harpsichord The Stone-child The Woman Who Laid an Egg The Strangest Miracle in the World Some Words about Hog-faced Gentlewomen Horned Humans The Biddenden Maids The Tocci Brothers, and Other Dicephali The King of Poland's Court Dwarf Daniel Cajanus, the Swedish Giant Daniel Lambert, the Human Colossus Cat-eating Englishmen and French Frog-swallowers
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About the Author

Jan Bondeson is a senior lecturer and consultant rheumatologist at Cardiff University, Wales. He is the author of many books, including Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities; Blood on the Snow: The Killing of Olof Palme, The Two-headed Boy, and Other Medical Marvels; The Feejee Mermaid and Other Essays in Natural and Unnatural History (all from Cornell); The London Monster; The Great Pretenders: The True Stories behind Famous Historical Mysteries; A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities; and Buried Alive.


"Bondeson takes another look at those whom some call freaks and medical monstrosities. He examines these strange persons sympathetically, with concern for how they lived, drawing on original, often contemporary descriptions to understand them... Good reading for anyone with a strong stomach, sufficient curiosity, and appreciation for the odd touch of wry humor."-Booklist. June 1, 2000. "As Bondeson looks at the cases of the so-called "hog-faced women," "dog-faced boys," and "people with horns" throughout history, he shows an acute sensitivity to the nuances of historical interpretation and for the humanity of those whose lives and conditions he chronicles."-Publishers Weekly. May 29, 2000. "A sober, informative disquisition on the sundry forms that humanity can assume and endure."-Kirkus Reviews. June 15, 2000 "Physician Bondeson ... looks at cultural, social, and literary aspects as well as morphology of grotesque deforming... a brilliant effort. Highly recommended."-Choice, January 2001 "A physician plumbs medical history to expose various anomalies of human development, the lives of the remarkable individuals afflicted, and the social reactions to their extraordinary bodies."-Forecast, Bridgewater, NJ, July 2000. "Clearly and engagingly written, and with sympathy and tact for those persons maliciously exploited and taunted for their anomalies, Bondeson's Two-Headed Boy is a well-researched, humane, and entertaining work that deserves a larger audience than most university press books generally garner. A highly recommended read."-Tom Bowden, Techdirections "The number of two-headed boys and hairy-faced girls in Jan Bondeson's new volume of miracles and marvels of medicine is astounding! But their stories illustrate how the myth-making of medicine functioned in a past in which the main means of communication was the broadside. Today with the Internet and a rich web of urban legends, Bondeson's volume serves as a corrective. It is not how far we have come in dealing with the anomalous but how little we have changed in our telling of wondrous stories. Great stories; greater lessons!"-Sander L. Gilman, Henry R. Luce Distinguished Service Professor of the Liberal Arts in Human Biology, The University of Chicago

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