She was an Irish immigrant cook. Between 1900 and 1907, she infected twenty-two New Yorkers with typhoid fever through her puddings and cakes; one of them died. Tracked down through epidemiological detective work, she was finally apprehended as she hid behind a barricade of trashcans. To protect the public's health, authorities isolated her on Manhattan's North Brother Island, where she died some thirty years later.
This book tells the remarkable story of Mary Mallonthe real Typhoid Mary. Combining social history with biography, historian Judith Leavitt re-creates early-twentieth-century New York City, a world of strict class divisions and prejudice against immigrants and women. Leavitt engages the reader with the excitement of the early days of microbiology and brings to life the conflicting perspectives of journalists, public health officials, the law, and Mary Mallon herself.
Leavitt's readable account illuminates dilemmas that continue to haunt us. To what degree are we willing to sacrifice individual liberty to protect the public's health? How far should we go in the age of AIDS, drug-resistant tuberculosis, and other diseases? For anyone who is concerned about the threats and quandaries posed by new epidemics, Typhoid Mary is a vivid reminder of the human side of disease and disease control.
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.99(w) x 8.97(h) x 0.91(d)|
About the Author
Judith Walzer Leavitt is a professor at University of Wisconsin—Madison specializing in medical history and women’s studies. Her published works include Typhoid Mary: Captive to the Public’s Health; Make Room for Daddy: The Journey from Waiting Room to Birthing Room; and Brought to Bed: Childbearing in America, 1750-1950. Leavitt studied at Antioch College and University of Chicago.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is another example of good popular scientific history, as good as Simon Winchester at his best. Typhoid Mary was a poor Irish immigrant cook in New York who unknowingly carried the typhoid virus which infected and killed a number of people she worked for. The real story inside this story is the means by which the authorities then attempted to restrain her from infecting more people, given that they had no means to 'cure' her. Ultimately, after breaching agreements not to take up work again as a cook, she was forcibly detained. The parallels with the authorities action (and restraint) in relation to the AIDS crisis in the 1980's and 1990's are very telling. Although the story of one woman, it is a story about society and a commentary on how we react to infections (of all sorts) within society. It would make an interesting read alongside Camus' Plague, but stands alone very well indeed.