Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam

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Crown/Archetype, Feb 5, 2008 - Biography & Autobiography - 248 pages
22 Reviews
In 1917, after years of selling worthless patent remedies throughout the Southeast, John R. Brinkley–America’s most brazen young con man–arrived in the tiny town of Milford, Kansas. He set up a medical practice and introduced an outlandish surgical method using goat glands to restore the fading virility of local farmers.

It was all nonsense, of course, but thousands of paying customers quickly turned “Dr.” Brinkley into America’s richest and most famous surgeon. His notoriety captured the attention of the great quackbuster Morris Fishbein, who vowed to put the country’s “most daring and dangerous” charlatan out of business.

Their cat-and-mouse game lasted throughout the 1920s and ’30s, but despite Fishbein’s efforts Brinkley prospered wildly. When he ran for governor of Kansas, he invented campaigning techniques still used in modern politics. Thumbing his nose at American regulators, he built the world’s most powerful radio transmitter just across the Rio Grande to offer sundry cures, and killed or maimed patients by the score, yet his warped genius produced innovations in broadcasting that endure to this day. By introducing country music and blues to the nation, Brinkley also became a seminal force in rock ’n’ roll. In short, he is the most creative criminal this country has ever produced.

Culminating in a decisive courtroom confrontation that pit Brinkley against his nemesis Fishbein, Charlatan is a marvelous portrait of a boundlessly audacious rogue on the loose in an America that was ripe for the bamboozling.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Review: Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam

User Review  - Kate Lawrence - Goodreads

Pseudo-doctor John Brinkley practiced the philosophy that if you're going to scam people, you might as well scam them big. Medical malpractice went mostly unregulated in the early 20th century, and ... Read full review

Review: Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam

User Review  - Todd Stockslager - Goodreads

John R. Brinkley is the man of the title, who was one of a handful of pseudo-scientists and medical hucksters who laid the groundwork for Viagra and its competitors by experimenting with methods to ... Read full review

All 3 reviews »


Title Page Dedication Epigraph Prologue
Chapter 1
Chapter 5
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 33
Chapter 34
Chapter 36
Chapter 38
Chapter 39
Chapter 40
Chapter 42
Chapter 44

Chapter 22
Chapter 11
Chapter 29
Chapter 32
Chapter 49
Chapter 53
Selected Bibliography

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About the author (2008)

POPE BROCK is the author of the critically acclaimed Indiana Gothic, the story of his great-grandfather’s murder in 1908. Brock has written for numerous publications, including Rolling Stone, Esquire, GQ, and the London Sunday Times Magazine. He lives in upstate New York with his twin daughters, Molly and Hannah.

From the Hardcover edition.

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