Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America by Susan Campbell Bartoletti


"This is a story of a cook-- a quiet, diligent cook who kept to herself. Her specialty was homemade ice cream topped with fresh peaches, which she served on hot summer days. She worked for some of the wealthiest families in New York, who spoke highly of her skills.

But when six members of one household nearly died, the cook mysteriously disappeared-- and the hunt for Typhoid Mary began." (inside cover)
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Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America by Susan  Campbell Bartoletti is considered to be a biography on Mary Mallon, the woman who would become Typhoid Mary. I disagree. I think this book would be much better suited for the 616s or in a section dedicated to medical mysteries. Very little of what is in this book is actually about Mary Mallon as a person.

There are 15 chapters in this book and maybe collectively, 1 chapter could be considered a bio on Mary. The rest is about George Soper's investigation to find Mary, and the information on how infectious diseases are spread, and the insane civil rights/liberties of the working class poor that were frequently squashed.

Terrible Typhoid Mary is a fascinating book, though. Bartoletti's portrayal of George Soper makes him seem like a dirty detective-- a man who had absolutely no issue with stomping on someone's rights to get the results he wanted.   I couldn't help but feel bad for Mary Mallon with the horrible witch hunt to get her. All of her rights were stripped away when she was essentially kidnapped by the Health Department.

I know this post seems like I hated the book, however, I really liked the book. I found the facts to be fascinating and learned a few new vocab words as I read it. I just don't think it should be classified as a biography.


Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America
by Susan  Campbell Bartoletti
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
240 pages (after addition materials)
Ages 10-14

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