The Arsenic Eaters investigates the widespread historical belief that the consumption of arsenic, generally known to be a deadly poison, is beneficial to one’s health.
Arsenic eaters were robust persons, and usually of the lower class of society, wood cutters, charcoal burners, stablemen, foresters, etc. They ingested arsenic to be 'strong and healthy': to look rosy, to resist fatigue or to strengthen their physique
The book consists of two parts. The first, contemporary part, traces the poison eaters and tries to find a link between the past and the present. It sketches a possible reality in which the obscure habit of arsenic eating is conceivable. The second part presents Brugner’s research, mainly based on medical papers from the nineteenth, early twentieth century and on-location findings. The book features contemporary photographs as well as archival material.