The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies

by Raffel, Dawn (Author)

ISBN: 9780399175749

The extraordinary tale of how a mysterious immigrant doctor became the revolutionary innovator in saving premature babies by placing them in incubators in World's Fair side shows and on Coney Island and Atlantic City.

Was Martin Couney a charlatan or a good doctor?

As Dawn Raffel artfully recounts, Dr. Couney figured out he could use incubators and careful nursing to keep previously doomed infants alive, and at the same time make good money displaying these babies alongside sword swallowers, bearded ladies, and burlesque shows. How this turn-of-the-twentieth-century emigre became the savior to families with premature infants, known then as weaklings-while ignoring the scorn of the medical establishment-is one of the most astounding stories of modern medicine. And as readers will find, Dr. Couney, for all his opportunistic entrepreneurial gusto, is a surprisingly appealing character, someone who genuinely cared for the well-being of his tiny patients. But he was not, after all, a doctor.

Drawing on newly discovered documents, obscure contemporary reports, and interviews with some of the now elderly surviving infants, acclaimed journalist and magazine editor Dawn Raffel tells the marvelously eccentric story of Couney's mysterious carnival career, his larger-than-life personality, and his unprecedented success as the savior of tiny babies.

Story Locale: Coney Island; Chicago

Age Range: From 18 to 0

Format: Hardcover, 304 pages

Publisher: Blue Rider Press, July 2018

Product Dimensions: 9.3 L × 6.2 W × 0 H

* Subject to availability