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September 08 , 2010

Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical

An Urban Historical


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.

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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 harbor typhoid in her strong and healthy body, and she doesn't intend to go quietly.

In this fascinating true story, Anthony Bourdain follows Mary through the kitchens of New York, putting a human face to a poor, desperate cook, and an inadvertant killer, and, with his signature swagger, captures an era and a life.

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