The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World
A National Bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book, and an Entertainment Weekly Best Book of the Year
It's the summer of 1854, and London is just emerging as one of the first modern cities in the world. But lacking the infrastructure-garbage removal, clean water, sewers-necessary to support its rapidly expanding population, the city has become the perfect breeding ground for a terrifying disease no one knows how to cure. As the cholera outbreak takes hold, a physician and a local curate are spurred to action-and ultimately solve the most pressing medical riddle of their time.
In a triumph of multidisciplinary thinking, Johnson illuminates the intertwined histories of the spread of disease, the rise of cities, and the nature of scientific inquiry, offering both a riveting history and a powerful explanation of how it has shaped the world we live in.
Fascinating: A look at the past, A look into the future.
By Peter Thomas Senese - Author. ""A book is... - October 29, 2006
This is surprisingly, one fascinating and important read that spins the historical reality of pathogenic disease with a well crafted story regarding the plight of a society facing a treacherous epidemic. Combining an in-depth view regarding the indefatigable energy and brilliance of Dr. John Snow in his quest to solve the deadliest outbreak of cholera in the history of London, with the history of epidemic plagues, `The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic- And How it Changed Cities, Science, and The Modern World' provided me with one page-turning, gripping historical tale that also provided further insight into the plight free societies face today in lieu of the possabilities of biological or chemical attacks on innocent people.
When I was recommended to read Steven Johnson's book, it was not for the sake of diving into a good read, but rather to `browse' through it for further insight on the origins of water contamination and how, thru these origins,... read more
History With A Warning
By John D. Cofield - November 13, 2006
The Ghost Map is an engrossing tale of medical detection and discovery. In 1854 a London neighborhood was suddenly plunged into a massive cholera epidemic. The actual disease was awful enough, but ignorance added to the fear felt by Londoners, because no one understood the true method by which cholera spread from one victim to another. Prevailing medical opinion held that cholera, like nearly all other diseases, was spread through miasmas, bad air and bad smells.
Two men, Dr. John Snow and Rev. Henry Whitehead, began to suspect that the true culprit was water from the neighborhood pump and conducted an assiduous investigation that finally proved them right. Although most doctors and scientists were reluctant to discard the miasma theory, eventually the weight of the evidence convinced them that Snow and Whitehead were correct.
Like all good histories, The Ghost Map branches from the main story to trace the many different ways in which Snow and Whitehead's... read more
Parts are great, overall frustrating
By Harold Davis - December 18, 2006
As I've indicated in my header for this review, I think parts of this book are great but parts are frustrating. I debated between three and four stars, 3.5 is about what I feel would be just.
Great: the background on Victorian sanitation and the human ecology that grew up about this sanitation (or lack thereof). For example, I bet you didn't know there was a whole occupation devoted to the collection of "pure" (dog poo) used in the tanning process. The details of the spread of cholera in the outbreak traced by Dr. Snow are fascinating, as is the dissection of the cult of miasma. The varnished cover, with a ghostly map (but it's not *the ghost map*) appearing at the right angle is very cool.
Not so great: This is a book called "The Ghost Map". It could use a great deal more cartography. The wonderful cover to the despite, there's no reproduction that I could see of the eponymous ghost map in the book.
The book could also have used a good editor, or at... read more
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