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Typhoid Mary [Paperback]

Anthony Bourdain
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
Price: £12.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

21 Feb 2005
In 1906, at a prosperous Long Island summer home, a family falls ill and typhoid is diagnosed. When Dr George Soper is called in to find the source of the contagion, he notices that the household cook has gone missing. She is Mary Mallon, the woman who would become known as Typhoid Mary. Soper, sanitary engineer turned sleuth, sees Mary as his Moriarty. He finds there has been an outbreak of typhoid fever in every household she has worked in over the past decade. Mary is a 'carrier', a seemingly healthy individual who passes on her dangerous germs, sometimes with fatal consequences. Now Soper must hunt the cook down before she can infect more unsuspecting victims. A poor Irish immigrant, Mary refuses to believe that she can harbour typhoid in her strong and healthy body, and she doesn't intend to go quietly. In this fascinating true story Bourdain, in an homage from one cook to another, follows Mary through the kitchens of New York, putting a human face to a desperate and unintentional murderer, and examines a time, and a life, with his inimitable style.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (21 Feb 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747566879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747566878
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 464,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘A charmingly roguish guide to a tough, grimy underworld with its own particular rules and rituals’ -- New York Times Book Review

‘A juicy drama … Bourdain creates a varied historical portrait of Mallon’s time’ -- Seattle Times

‘A tale of hot pursuit, with the rude gusto and barbed wit that made Kitchen Confidential such a full-bodied pleasure’ -- New York Times Book Review

‘Elegant … We feel Bourdain’s affinity and affection for his subject’ -- New York Newsday

From the Publisher

The story of a notorious cook and a riveting slice of 1900s New York from the bestselling author of Kitchen Confidential

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sympathetic, Chef's-Eye View of Mary Mallon 25 July 2004
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
This book adds much useful and interesting color to the history of Ms. Mary Mallon, the woman who became known as Typhoid Mary. Mr. Bourdain takes his experiences as a chef and extends them into imagining what life was like for Ms. Mallon. He also tries to look at circumstances from her perspective, rather than the authorities who hounded her.
If you don't know the story, you should be aware that Ms. Mallon was a cook. She was a poor, single Irish immigrant who had to depend on her own efforts to make her way. Apparently, she was an above average cook, because she had an easier time staying employed than most cooks of the wealthy did at that time.
In the early 1900s, typhoid fever was a common disease. About one in ten who contracted it died. There was no treatment for it. You just got very sick. Antiobiotics and vaccines eventually became available, but not until the 1940s.
Some people who have the disease never get very sick, but never totally get over it. They continue to carry the bacteria in their intestinal system. The discharge of that system can then cause healthy people to become ill if they ingest the bacteria in their water or food. Cooked food is not usually a source, but ice cream can be. Many of Ms. Mallon's diners fondly remembered her peach ice cream.
She was discovered as the possible source when a wealthy family in Oyster Harbor came down in typhoid in 1904. The investigator looked into the fact that the cook had disappeared. Checking her employment history with an agency, he found that every family she had cooked for during the past several years had experienced typhoid. A new scientific theory was developing that some people could be continuous carriers. He wanted to find her and test her blood.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Sympathetic, Chef's-Eye View of Mary Mallon 10 May 2004
By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
This book adds much useful and interesting color to the history of Ms. Mary Mallon, the woman who became known as Typhoid Mary. Mr. Bourdain takes his experiences as a chef and extends them into imagining what life was like for Ms. Mallon. He also tries to look at circumstances from her perspective, rather than the authorities who hounded her.
If you don't know the story, you should be aware that Ms. Mallon was a cook. She was a poor, single Irish immigrant who had to depend on her own efforts to make her way. Apparently, she was an above average cook, because she had an easier time staying employed than most cooks of the wealthy did at that time.
In the early 1900s, typhoid fever was a common disease. About one in ten who contracted it died. There was no treatment for it. You just got very sick. Antiobiotics and vaccines eventually became available, but not until the 1940s.
Some people who have the disease never get very sick, but never totally get over it. They continue to carry the bacteria in their intestinal system. The discharge of that system can then cause healthy people to become ill if they ingest the bacteria in their water or food. Cooked food is not usually a source, but ice cream can be. Many of Ms. Mallon's diners fondly remembered her peach ice cream.
She was discovered as the possible source when a wealthy family in Oyster Harbor came down in typhoid in 1904. The investigator looked into the fact that the cook had disappeared. Checking her employment history with an agency, he found that every family she had cooked for during the past several years had experienced typhoid. A new scientific theory was developing that some people could be continuous carriers. He wanted to find her and test her blood.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Typhoid Mary 7 Oct 2009
By Levenax
Format:Paperback
I have an interest in epidemiology and was researching Mary Mallon for a presentation. Mr Bourdain's book caught my eye and since I'm an admirer of his journalism, fiction and food writing I though this might be quite good. It is however disappointing and includes only some of the material to be found in Judith Walzer Leavitt's excellent Typhoid Mary: Captive to the Public's Heart If you want a brief and quite entertaining account of Typhoid Mary's life this book is OK but Ms Leavitt's work will give you the full picture of a fascinating incident in the annals of infectious disease.
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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not very good at all 17 May 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I'm a huge fan of a Cooks Tour, and Kitchen Confidential, but this book is not very good at all.
The actual story of Typhoid Mary is very simple, and the author clearly struggles to expand it over 145 pages (with large margins and a pretty big font). This is nothing personal, anyone would.
Bourdain takes his "cooks are great and can do no wrong" attitude to the limit, and most of the book reads like a character assassination of the man who tracked her down (there's no reason for this, other than he was chasing a cook). Mary's bad hygiene is excused by telling us that no cook washes their hands properly, and always avoid the Caesar Salad. Gee, thanks Anthony!
Really, this book does not justify being written. The information should have been condensed into about 40 pages, and included as a chapter in a book on a wider subject.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Typhoid Mary book 17 May 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I ordered it....... but it never arrived ...despite the person said they had got it in stock.... not very happy as it was going to be a present
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