A Cure for What Ails You – Medium Books

A Review of Stephanie Allen’s Tonic and Balm

Tonic and Balm is a book about medicine shows.

The thing about medicine shows is that they are different from circuses, carnivals, or “freak shows.” I had never really thought about them before reading this book.

When I think of the circus I think of those poor animals being caged and taught how to do stupid human tricks — why do some find it so adorable or hilarious to make wild animals do human things? — so I don’t think much of the circus at all.

When I think of “freak shows” or sideshows I think of American Horror Story — did you watch that season? I feel bad about the curiosity the show aroused in me — it must be offensive to some people.

Carnivals can be fun but there’s something about them, like sideshows, that intrigue and frighten us. I mean, have you seen Jordan Peele’s film Us?!
But medicine shows? Who thinks about medicine shows? Well, Stephanie Allen does.

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