Typhoid Mary

An Urban Historical

Bourdain, Anthony

Book - 2001
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Typhoid Mary
From the best-selling author of Kitchen Confidential comes this true, thrilling tale of pursuit through the kitchens of New York City at the turn of the century. By the late nineteenth century, it seemed that New York City had put an end to the outbreaks of typhoid fever that had so frequently decimated the city's population. That is until 1904, when the disease broke out in a household in Oyster Bay, Long Island. Authorities suspected the family cook, Mary Mallon, of being a carrier. But before she could be tested, the woman, soon to be known as Typhoid Mary, had disappeared. Over the course of the next three years, Mary worked at several residences, spreading her pestilence as she went. In 1907, she was traced to a home on Park Avenue, and taken into custody. Institutionalized at Riverside Hospital for three years, she was released only when she promised never to work as a cook again. She promptly disappeared. For the next five years Mary worked in homes and institutions in and around New York, often under assumed names. In February 1915, a devastating outbreak of typhoid at the Sloane Hospital for Women was traced to her. She was finally apprehended and reinstitutionalized at Riverside Hospital, where she would remain for the rest of her life. Typhoid Mary is the story of her infamous life. Anthony Bourdain reveals the seedier side of the early 1900s, and writes with his renowned panache about life in the kitchen, uncovering the horrifying conditions that allowed the deadly spread of typhoid over a decade. Typhoid Mary is a true feast for history lovers and Bourdain lovers alike.

Published: New York : Bloomsbury : Distributed to the trade by St. Martin's Press, c2001.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 1582341338
Branch Call Number: 614.5112 BOU
Characteristics: 148 p. ;,19 cm.
Alternate Title: Typhoid Mary


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Mar 03, 2011
  • Library_Dragon rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A fascinating look at a historical epidemic, told through the unique viewpoint of an author who understands what it means to be a chef--or in Mary's case, a 19th-century cook whose identity and livelihood are so intertwined that when she is diagnosed with typhoid she is still compelled to cook for people. Interesting questions on social class and the ethics of medical testing are also raised. A fine companion peice to books like Stephen Johnson's "Ghost Map."


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