This engrossing story about Typhoid Mary relates the grim history of typhoid fever, which killed tens of thousands of Americans in the early 1900s.
The narrative opens in 1907, when Dr. Josephine Baker, a New York City medical inspector, and three police officers paid a visit on Irish immigrant Mary Mallon, later known as Typhoid Mary. Mallon was a healthy-looking, middle-aged cook suspected of carrying typhoid bacteria and infecting those she worked for, sometimes fatally. Chapters about finding and imprisoning Mallon alternate with those on typhoid, its symptoms, how it spread and how it was largely eradicated. Lively writing uses primary sources to relate well-chosen, sometimes-gruesome details about the disease and convey the personalities of Mallon, Baker and George Soper, a sanitary engineer who tracked down Mallon through her employment history. An unusually attractive design incorporates many photographs, such artifacts as posters and cartoons, and sidebars. More than a chronological account, this exploration pays tribute to the power of public health measures and raises questions about the ethics of protecting the public by quarantining someone like Mallon, who sued for her freedom.
A top-notch addition to the popular topic of deadly diseases. (timeline, source notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)