Top positive review
The war against disease wages on!
Reviewed in the United States on June 2, 2015
Gail Jarrow has a remarkable ability to tell a compelling story, the fact that the story is true makes it all the more interesting. I really enjoyed her previous book, Red Madness, so I was really looking forward to reading this one. I loved this one as well. This book is everything that narrative nonfiction should be, a compelling story, interesting characters, and a challenging problem. Disease has long been a source of great suffering and difficulty and it still is throughout the world. Reading a story like this helps reveal the many who have helped fight the battle against disease, some by choice, and others like Mary Mellon, very unwillingly.
Mary's story is a sad one as she was as much a victim as those she infected, at least until she deliberately chose to ignore the warnings she received when she was released. She had the unfortunate honor of being the first healthy typhoid character identified in the United States. As such, public health officials weren't really sure what to do with her, so they locked her up. She wasn't treated particularly fairly considering the problem wasn't her fault. But her refusal to accept her status as a carrier made things even worse. The challenge of protecting the public's health versus individual rights is one that continues to be fought to this day.
This book is both a fascinating individual story but also a story of the fight against a disease and the people who waged that fight. I can recommend this book to those like myself who find such stories fascinating both the historical aspects as well as the science.