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Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  2,680 ratings  ·  595 reviews
What happens when a person's reputation has been forever damaged?

With archival photographs and text among other primary sources, this riveting biography of Mary Mallon by the Sibert medalist and Newbery Honor winner Susan Bartoletti looks beyond the tabloid scandal of Mary's controversial life.

How she was treated by medical and legal officials reveals a lesser-known stor
Hardcover, 229 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
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Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
The tale of Typhoid Mary is one of those stories I thought I knew . . . but I was wrong.

Mary Mallon worked as a cook for wealthy families in the New York City area. In 1906, several members of the Warren family, her latest employer, grew ill with what was later diagnosed as typhoid fever. Convinced that tainted drinking water was to blame, the family packed up and fled the rented seaside house for their city home. The owner of the Oyster Bay house, fearing that he would have trouble reletting th
Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is the best book about Typhoid Mary that I have read. The author makes the book very engaging by adding many interesting facts surrounding the case such as the laws in place to protect people's rights,living conditions and disease knowledge.
Richie Partington
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Richie’s Picks: TERRIBLE TYPHOID MARY: A TRUE STORY OF THE DEADLIEST COOK IN AMERICA by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, August 2015, 240p., ISBN: 978-0-544-31367-5

“Adopting one of the most far-reaching vaccination laws in the nation, California on Tuesday barred religious and other personal-belief exemptions for schoolchildren, a move that could affect tens of thousands of students and sets up a potential court battle with opponents of immunization…Public health officials s
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been very interesting to read this book whilst in the middle of the covid 19 pandemic and quarantining of healthy people. I think this book shows how so much can be destroyed by fear.

Mary had no signs of typhoid, all the "evidence" against her at the time of her imprisonment was circumstantial. She was persecuted and her livelihood was destroyed. No other healthy carriers were imprisoned or treated so terribly. Yes, Mary was proven to be a healthy carrier of typhoid but that was only prove
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Holy cow was this book easy to read and follow along. Even though I've listened to at least two different podcasts on the topic of Typhoid Mary (shout out to Stuff You Should Know and Stuff you missed in History Class), this book was incredibly knowledgable on the topic as well as a great start and insight to the ethics of holding a patient prisoner as well as the start of declassifying medical information before HIPAA became the norm and the law.

This is a great, easy read but man, does it leav
BAM The Bibliomaniac
There was more research and detail given in the historical fiction account Fever. If one is interested in this subject, I suggest that book instead.
Aug 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
3.5 stars, really, but 4 stars is a rating I give books I really, really like, so I'm not quite bumping it up.

Definitely written for kids/tweens, but I found it informative and interesting. Some things I learned:

1. Mary Mallon ("Typhoid Mary") was not some sloppy cook who didn't wash her hands. She was actually very clean and well-kept. It's just that at the time, without antibacterial soap or anything, it would be virtually impossible for her to wash her hands well enough to kill all the typhoi
Joyce Yattoni
Feb 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A non-fiction true story about a house cook in 1907 who was a carrier of typhoid fever and infected many. Typhoid is an infectious disease and more common today in developing countries. It is a type of bacteria that is transmitted through fecal matter and sometimes urine. If a person does not wash their hands with hot, soapy water it can be transmitted through food, as in the case of this cook. I learned that she was quarantined for many years of her life. She was not able to move about freely. ...more
Abby Johnson
Mar 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Oh, man, what a great narrative nonfiction title! The book reads like fiction, presenting the true story of Mary Mallon ("Typhoid Mary") with finely crafted writing that kept me interested (even though I read another book about Mary Mallon earlier this year). I especially appreciated how Bartoletti includes stats and examples relevant to today's world to put Mary Mallon's story in perspective. Also, I think she presents a balanced view of both Mallon and the health workers who sought to keep her ...more
Dee Dee G
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I learned so much from this book. I only heard of the name Typhoid Mary but knew nothing beyond that. Highly recommend this.
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was an absolutely fascinating read that not only focused on the person "Typhoid Mary" which is still prevalent today, but numerous other topics including public health, infectious disease treatments prior to antibiotics and vaccinations, civil rights or the forcible detention of an individual for public health reasons. The author covered them all in a book that started out strong and didn't let up. It was written at the age appropriate level, but was still fascinated to an adult reader such ...more
Stacey Richardson
Aug 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Quick read. Increased my own hand washing as a result:)
Apr 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Not to long not to short. I enjoyed listening to this story. So frustrating and at times unfair to be Mary and at the same time I wanted to smack her upside the head.
Jan 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Susan Campbell Bartoletti's career in kids' fiction is impressive, with such successes to her name as The Boy Who Dared and Down the Rabbit Hole, Chicago, Illinois, 1871: The Diary of Pringle Rose, but nonfiction is where she piles up the awards, including a Sibert Medal (Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850) and a Newbery Honor (Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow). When Ms. Bartoletti writes on issues of historical or cultural significance, teachers want thei ...more
Aug 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Susan Campbell Bartoletti continues to write well researched, informative, and highly interesting narrative juvenile nonfiction. "Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America," is the story of Mary Mallon, a cook who carried typhoid gems and is suspected of infecting people she worked for and with in the New York City area shortly after the turn of the century. In telling the story of Mary Mallong, Bartoletti examines cultural attitudes of the era, medical knowledge and a ...more
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A great resource on the dynamic life of Mary Mallon -- known more wildly as Typhoid Mary. Bartoletti presents facts and a well rounded history of the Mary and medical team that treated her, but in an accessible way that will make it easy for children (Middle Grade) to follow. Injecting a wide range of views, Bartoletti invites readers to question what was happening at the time and why certain people acted how they did. A smooth, story-like narrative coupled with facts and critical thinking oppor ...more
Mar 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book was about this cook that everyone thought was a psycho, because people in her house hold that she was feeding would get unexpectedly sick. Everyone thought she was poisoning the food, but was she though? Read the book to find out...
❆ Crystal ❆
Oct 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: g-non-fiction
3 stars... This book is geared for a younger age, but an interesting story for sure. My 12- year-old daughter read for school and I read it along with her so we could discuss it together.
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved it. I want my family to read this book! Very interesting and sad.
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Terrible Typhoid Mary

Fascinating book. “Terrible Typhoid Mary” chronicles the events surrounding Mary Mallon in New York circa 1906. She was eventually identified as an asymptomatic typhoid carrier. She showed no symptoms. Was never sick. She just went about her daily work. City officials were baffled at how a group of people in a household would suddenly come down with typhoid fever while none of the servants had ever showed symptoms of the disease. That’s when an overzealous sanitary engineer
"It is probable that Mary Mallon is a prisoner for life. And yet she has committed no crime, has never been accused of an immoral or wicked act, and has never been a prisoner in any court, nor has she been sentenced to imprisonment by any judge." (pg. 108).

Terrible Typhoid Mary is the biography of an Irish American cook who was imprisoned and experimented upon, against her will, by the health department during the early 1900's for being a healthy carrier of Typhoid. Although it is a book geared
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is really excellent nonfiction for young readers, and I can’t wait to share it with my classes in a couple of weeks. The story of “Typhoid Mary” is fascinating, and despite my OCD around contagious infections/diseases, I was hooked. (Though it helps that typhoid isn’t really an issue today.) An excellent read on germ theory, personal rights, infectious diseases, yellow journalism, and history!
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
I was really fascinated by this book, although I almost didn't want to read it after I read the author's note at the beginning: "Dear Reader, if you are squeamish" and don't like to read about germs, or you're the type of person who uses antibacterial spray every five minutes, or doesn't touch doorknobs, etc, then "you should stop now and find some other book to read." !! I loved that, because it's a fair warning, and because I'm sure it will serve to draw in some reluctant kid readers who might ...more
Really interesting. Mary was quite a feisty person
Valerie McEnroe
This is the second book I've read about Mary Mallon, aka Typhoid Mary. Both this book and the other, Fatal Fever are excellent reads. They are both written in a narrative nonfiction format, making the information easily digestible.

During the early 1900s doctors and scientists were making great strides in understanding the spread of disease. Typhoid epidemics were usually traced to a water supply contaminated by sewage. It was most common in the lower classes in overcrowded cities. When a wealth
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very engaging and enjoyable read.
Poor Mary - a typhoid carrier with no symptoms herself of the disease and only having one trade that would pay her anything semi decent, that is being a cook, and that is the one trade that more or less guaranteed that there would be victim upon victim from her touching their food.
A sad but true story of one life in turn of the century NY.
A young adult sort of biography about a woman who ended up as a phrase in our vocabulary meaning someone who spreads diseases without caring about others. This book while discussing why Mary Mallon ended up with the moniker and how her issues may have happened it also talks about the Health Department and just how much they were legally allowed to do things that would cause an uproar these days. It also gives some background on the people who cause Mary to be incarcerated for most of her life. I ...more
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Good book about an interesting subject. Fantastic photos, notes, bibliography. Susan Campbell Bartoletti is one of my favorite non fiction authors for young teens and teens. This book is not her best work though. It felt like she was writing to a younger audience than who would read this book. The writing felt condescending. The title is a little sensational - does it really need to be "Terrible" Typhoid Mary? Nonetheless, it's still a very good (and quick) book that I recommend.
Sara Cook
Sep 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a fascinating story. Would make for good class discussion on so many topics, denial of scientific evidence, treatment of women and immigrants, privacy, yellow journalism...I wanted more out of the writing-it was too sparse for me.
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a book for young readers, but I learned some interesting things from it. I think it's a great book for the age group. How far can the government go in quarantining people? How does "yellow journalism" impact our society? Lots of ideas to discuss in this book.
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Susan Campbell Bartoletti is an American writer of children's literature. She was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, but eventually the family ended up in a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania. Susan started as an English teacher and inspired many students before deciding to pursue writing in earnest. She sold her first short story in 1989. Three years later in 1992 she published her first pict ...more

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“This I know for sure: Life is...uncertain. As a society and as individuals, we must protect healthy people from disease. We must also treat those suffering from disease in an intelligent, humane, and compassionate way. We need to be rational and keep our fears in check.” 1 likes
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