Suzy's Reviews > Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical

Typhoid Mary by Anthony Bourdain
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's review
Sep 09, 2008

really liked it

Nevermind that I read this for an assignment, Bourdain has done an exceptional job in making a woman of the moniker. He doesn't fall into the trap of delivering asinine praise and excuses, instead choosing to display all Mary's flaws, even the unforgivable ones.

Having sampled a few Typhoid Mary books, none have come close to this one in terms of genuine, unabashed empathy. Not sympathy, mind - he doesn't forgive, he relates. If Mallon had been born a century later and could only choose one spokesman to argue her case, she can't go wrong with Bourdain. He presents the facts, the dates, the ugly incriminating evidence and then pieces together the woman whom all these facts surround. In a few intimate, grainy snapshots, he captures the filth and squalor of her surroundings, as well as the steel core of the woman born midst death who would, and could dare anything to escape.

No, she cannot be forgiven. But maybe, Bourdain quietly pleads, understood?

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