Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Non-fiction Book Review

Title: Terrible Typhoid Mary
Author: Susan Campbell Bartoletti

I'm familiar with the phrase "Typhoid Mary" of course and I knew that she was a real person, an uninfected carrier. I knew what we learned about disease from Mary. I had never before considered what this experience was like for her. That's what this book was about more than anything else: the dehumanization of Mary Mallon. We're used to having rights, medically. Rights to our own information, to refuse treatment, to keep our medical history private. These rights didn't exist for Mary. She was treated more as a lab specimen than a person. I was expecting more about Typhoid itself. If you're interested in medical history or social justice, this book is likely fascinating. I found it a little too clinical and distant at times. I'd have preferred something a little more personable. Still, well researched and solidly written.

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