Monday, March 29, 2021

The Wisdom of the Flock by Steve M. Gnatz - Book Tour + Giveaway

Join us for this tour from Mar 29 to Apr 9, 2021!

Book Details:

Book Title:  The Wisdom of the Flock: Franklin and Mesmer in Paris by Steve M. Gnatz
CategoryAdult Fiction (18+),  541 pages
Genre:  Historical Fiction
PublisherLeather Apron Press
Release date:   January 2021
Content Rating:  PG-13. There is mild (romantic) sexual content and very mild profanity.
Book Description:

1776: Benjamin Franklin sails to Paris, carrying a copy of the Declaration of Independence, freshly signed. His charge: gain the support of France for the unfolding American Revolution. Yet Paris is a city of distractions. Ben’s lover, Marianne Davies, will soon arrive, and he yearns to rekindle his affair with the beautiful musician.

Dr. Franz Mesmer has plans for Marianne too. He has taken Parisian nobility by storm with his discovery of magnétisme animale, a mysterious force claimed to heal the sick. Marianne’s ability to channel Mesmer’s phenomena is key to his success.

A skeptical King Louis XVI appoints Ben to head a commission investigating the astonishing magnétisme animale. By nature, Ben requires proof. Can he scientifically prove that it does not exist? Mesmer will stop at nothing to protect his profitable claim.

The Wisdom of The Flock explores the conflict between science and mysticism in a time rife with revolution, love, spies, and passion.

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Author Interview
1)      Where did you get the idea for The Wisdom of the Flock?
I first became aware of the interaction between Franklin and Mesmer in a 2005 article written about Benjamin Franklin’s medical endeavors and inventions. It described the commission to which Franklin was appointed in 1784 by King Louis XVI aimed at discrediting Mesmer’s practice. It piqued my interest. I wanted to know more about the time and how Franklin came to be involved.

2)      Was Ben Franklin a medical doctor?
No, even though he is often referred to as Doctor Franklin, Ben’s doctorate degrees (from Harvard and Yale in 1753) were honorary and bestowed based on his electrical experiments. He never had any formal medical training. However, the medical training of the time was rudimentary. As the playwright Molière (1622-1673) wrote, “The role of the physician is to entertain the patient while the disease runs its course.” This was certainly true in Franklin’s time a century later as the “treatments” of the day were still often ineffective or even harmful.

3)      But Mesmer really was a medical doctor?
Yes, Franz Anton Mesmer was trained as a physician and practiced the general medical treatments of the time – which included things like bloodletting and use of leeches, as well as “cupping” – the application of a strong vacuum to the skin aimed at raising a blistering welt. These practices were designed to draw out the “bad humours” and allow people to heal. But as noted in the book, such treatments, and the physicians who used them, often did more harm than good. Compared to the barbaric treatments of the day, Mesmer’s ministrations were undoubtedly gentler – and probably just as effective.

4)      Is that where we get the term “mesmerized”?
Yes, unfortunately being “mesmerized” has taken on the connotation of being under the control of someone, or something – and often evokes a negative meaning – as in being duped or exploited. However, Mesmer used his technique in an attempt to heal people. And in fact, his patients did feel better – at least for a time. Nothing that he did really changed the course of their disease, of course, but people were noted to be calmer, more at peace with their malady (whatever it was) after his treatments.

5)      What happened to Mesmer’s treatments?
After the commission “debunked” mesmerism, it fell into disuse – at least within the traditional medical community. However, in the mid-1800’s it re-emerged as what we know today as hypnotism. Hypnotism has been shown to be a helpful tool in many areas, from smoking cessation to depression. Some of strongest evidence comes from the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders – possibly through decreases in stress and anxiety.

6)      Did Ben Franklin invent anything medical?
Most of the things that Franklin invented were utilitarian, but they often had implications for health and wellness. For example, his invention of what came to be known as the “Franklin stove” was an innovation (a baffle) that kept smoke from entering the house. By inventing a stove that exhausted the smoke outside, many lungs were saved! Also, because of need to find a better way to empty his bladder due to a stone, he designed a urinary catheter. Franklin’s design (made up of interlocking silver pieces) was more flexible and easily sanitized by boiling – reducing the risk of infection. A historically accurate anecdote, recounted in The Wisdom of the Flock, relates how Franklin used a strong electrical jolt to cure depression (melancholia) and an attempt to make a paralyzed man’s arm move. He theorized that an electrical shock might restart a heartbeat. All of these observations being precursors to modern medical treatments. Of course, his bi-focal glasses have aided many in reading. And his “long arm” was what we would call today a “reacher” – allowing someone to reach objects despite disability. Lastly, Ben believed in daily aerobic exercise – and while not an invention – this practice clearly aided his health during his lifetime and that of many others since.


Meet the Author:
Author Steve M. Gnatz

Steve Gnatz is a writer, physician, bicyclist, photographer, traveler, and aspiring ukulele player. The son of a history professor and a nurse, it seems that both medicine and history are in his blood. Writing historical fiction came naturally. An undergraduate degree in biology was complemented by a minor in classics. After completing medical school, he embarked on an academic medical career specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. There was little time for writing during those years, other than research papers and a technical primer on electromyography. Now retired from the practice of medicine, he devotes himself to the craft of fiction. The history of science is of particular interest, but also the dynamics of human relationships. People want to be good scientists, but sometimes human nature gets in the way. That makes for interesting stories. When not writing or traveling, he enjoys restoring Italian racing bicycles at home in Chicago with his wife and daughters.

connect with the author:  website ~ facebook ~ goodreads

Tour Schedule:

Mar 29 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Mar 29 - Gina Rae Mitchell - book spotlight / giveaway
Mar 30 – Rockin' Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
Mar 31 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review / giveaway
Apr 1 – Deborah-Zenha Adams – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Apr 1 - Sefina Hawke's Books – book review
Apr 2 - Books Lattes & Tiaras – book review / giveaway
Apr 5 – Splashes of Joy – book review / author interview / giveaway
Apr 6 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
Apr 6 - Books for Books – book review
Apr 7 – Laura's Interests – book review / guest post / giveaway
Apr 7 - I Read What You Write - book review / guest post / giveaway
Apr 8 – PuzzlePaws Blog – book review / giveaway
Apr 8 - Kam's Place – book spotlight / guest post
Apr 9 – michellemengsbookblog – book review / author interview / giveaway
Apr 9 - Stephanie Jane – book spotlight / giveaway
TBA – High Society Book Club & Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
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