Fatal Fever by Gail Jarrow

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Genre: Biography

Page Count: 176

Publication Date: 2015

Summary: In the early 1900’s in large cities like New York, typhoid fever was one of the top 5 causes of death. Whenever an outbreak would occur, sanitation experts and healthcare officials would try to pinpoint where the outbreak began so they could make improvements as necessary (for example, water filtration).  After a series of outbreaks and some detective work, all of the typhoid cases had one thing in common – a cook named Mary Mallon. This book is the story of her forced quarantine over a period of years, her release and eventual recapture.  Though Mary was not sick, she was a carrier of the typhoid bacteria and seemed to spread the disease wherever she went.

Recommend: Yes.  This book was researched very well and paints an interesting detective story of the life of “Typhoid Mary.” There are also historical pictures which add to the narrative.

If You’re Offended: No problems here.

Noteworthy Excerpts: “Crowded cities, like New York […], were grimy, stinking, unsanitary places. Raw sewage fouled the water. Mountains of spoiled food and garbage lined the sidewalks, rotting in the sun. Horses dropped 2,000 tons of manure on streets every day. The city was littered with dead and decomposing animals, including cattle, donkeys, dogs, rats, and more than 10,000 horses a year. Too many people lived crammed together in filthy, poorly built tenement buildings that had overflowing outhouses.”     “This woman is a great menace to health, a danger to the community, and she has been made a prisoner on that account.”

Ten Days a Madwoman by Deborah Noyes

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Genre: Biography

Page Count: 132

Publication Date: 2016

Summary: Nellie Bly moved to New York in 1887 with the intent of becoming a famous journalist – 33 years before women in the United States had the right to vote.  Women journalists at the time were expected to write about fashion and recipes but Nellie Bly wanted to write about things that really mattered. She approached the owner of the New York World, who suggested an outrageous idea that just might make her famous – go undercover into the asylum on Blackwell’s Island and report on the conditions inside.  She discovers neglect, abuse and false confinements.  Writing about this puts her in the spotlight and from then on, she continues to come up with outlandish schemes that will keep her stories on the front page of the papers. The book is filled with photographs of her various adventures.

Recommended? Yes.  When I was younger, I read a book about Amelia Earhart and she became my idol – I can see Nellie Bly becoming an idol for somebody else. It never occurred to her that she couldn’t do something simply because she was a woman.

If You’re Offended…  Don’t worry – this book is recommended for ages 10 & up.

Noteworthy Excerpts: “Who could tell but that the strain of playing crazy and being shut up with a crowd of mad people might turn my own brain and I would never get back.”  “You could say that it would be impossible for a slender, comparatively frail young woman to do such a fearsome thing. But that is because you are not thoroughly acquainted with Nellie Bly.”