Snakes Alive by John Cann Soft Cover



Summary: A fascinating history of Australian snake showmen and -women, plus the search for an effective cure for snakebite (which apparently went through quite a few ineffective cures along the way).

In this thoroughly entertaining and informative book, author John Cann takes us on a journey from snakebite in 1600 BC, to early Aboriginal encounters with snakes, to the snake men and women of 1800s Australia, up to the creation of an effective snake antivenom in the 1930s. Along the way we encounter Cleopatra (possibly history’s most famous snakebite victim), ‘Professor’ Frederick Fox, Ram Chandra, Eric Worrell, Charles Tanner, George Cann Snr (John’s father) and many other colourful characters.

Numerous stories of snakes, snake bites and the snake-bitten are woven together. Reading about some of the early treatments for snake bite (most of which sound worse than the bite itself!) makes me thankful that nowadays we have a very effective first aid method.

There are a few spelling and grammatical errors, but the story is compelling enough to ensure that you hardly notice these mistakes. If you’re interested in herpetological history, this book is well worth reading.

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