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Dawn Raffel’s book, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies, is a thrilling mystery about an eccentric, larger-than-life personality, his goals and motivations, and the shadow of his past.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Dr. Martin Couney exhibited premature infants at many world’s fairs and festivals, and at Coney Island and Atlantic City, displayed in their incubators alongside sword swallowers, bearded ladies, and burlesque performers. What may seem bizarre or even grotesque to a modern audience was actually quite innovative; known then as “weaklings,” these previously doomed babies were not allowed in most hospitals, and for desperate families, Dr. Couney was a savior.
This event is part of Creative Nonfiction's Science As Story series, which invites acclaimed long-form science writers to discuss the challenges of bridging the gap between research and storytelling to bring stories that matter to a wider audience.