It’s a compendium of archaic child-rearing advice, going back to the 1920s, when parents were urged to give their kids sunburns and linseed enemas. It’s perhaps the only book I will ever write that devotes a substantial chapter to the greatest problem of the 1940s: CONSTIPATION. You have no idea how slow the bowels of American children moved in the forties. Dads will enjoy how stupid and useless they were made to look in the 50s; Moms will enjoy the detailed how-to-give-birth-at-home section from the WW1 era, and everyone will love the 1960s pamphlet on dealing with home stresses via industrial tranquilizers. It’s the usual retro-fest with many ads, laden with unfair commentary, and attractively priced; perfect for everyone who’s ever had a kid or a mother. I think that covers it all.
I think Lileks is downplaying the size of the constipation crisis among infants of the 40's, and even today. If there's one thing I remember from medical school pediatrics, it's that constipation causes a surprising number of hospital visits (a second fact springs to mind: parents aren't often satisfied with the diagnosis of constipation).
Now that I think about it, I should buy this book in preparation for my peds month in December. One or two of those chapters may come in handy on the floors.