Miracle at Coney Island: A Review

Another great Kindle single, Miracle at Coney Island: How a Sideshow Doctor Saved Thousands of Babies and Transformed American Medicine takes a look at the true story of the “incubator doctor,” Martin Couney.

Claire Prentice investigates the “incubator doctor” that setup infant incubators across America and in London from 1903 to 1943. Martin Couney’s techniques and incubators were far ahead of his time and were responsible for saving thousands of premature infants and changing how the medical field viewed premature infants.

His educational background and professional references were, unfortunately, not what they appeared to be.

After researching, Prentice was unable to confirm nor deny whether or not Martin Couney every received a medical degree or trained under the prestigious pediatricians he claimed he worked with.

Regardless of his past, Couney’s techniques had an undeniable influence on modern medicine. By creating a sideshow of the tiny infants, he was able to care for them without asking for a penny from their parents and provided them with more advanced care than even hospitals were able to provide at the time.

I enjoyed this quick read. I finished it one New Year’s Eve to top off my 2016 reading list on Goodreads. I like these quick reads that I can read along with other larger books at the same time.

The details in this book are fantastic. I had always heard of the incubator exhibits at Coney Island, but I had no idea the extent of the influence these exhibits had on not only society but the medical field. I was amazed to find out how long Couney put on these sideshows and just how many babies he saved. While the number was never officially recorded, but the estimation is that over the course of 40 years he saved thousands of children that went on to have children of their own and live full lives.

I also did not know prior to reading how little was known about premature babies in the early 1900s. The fact that many doctors unknowingly dismissed premature infants as destined to die was astonishing and yet I was not entirely surprised because medicine has grown in leaps and bounds since then.

It lived up to the title, the chapters were long enough to be interesting and short enough to get through quickly, and the organization was well thought out. The timeline didn’t bounce around dates a lot and pretty much followed the sequence of events chronologically which was nice.

I appreciate the amount of research the author put into telling the story of the famous “incubator doctor” and love quick reads like this. The kindle singles are becoming my favorite way to hit my reading challenge goals.



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