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The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic -- and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World


The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic -- and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World Cover


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Average customer rating based on 9 comments:

eminson, December 3, 2010 (view all comments by eminson)
I don't have a particular interest in disease, medicine, or the 1800's, but I was thoroughly riveted by this factual account of cholera's ravaging strike on what is now the SoHo district of London. Reading about Dr. John Snow's relentless detective work delivers a valuable history lesson that also happens to be quite captivating.
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(0 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Too Many Notes, January 22, 2010 (view all comments by Too Many Notes)
A compelling and insightful read, one that should have a wide appeal. A historical look at disease and the city of London in the 1850s, told through the very human story of discovery. Dr. John Snow and the Reverend Henry Whitehead were quietly determined to find solutions and to genuinely help people, working against both popular theories and panic. Well written and well researched, though the conclusion is less so, and Johnson's epilogue felt a little clunky. Still, the kind book that unexpectedly pops up in conversation often, and becomes recommended by all sorts of readers (initially pitched to me by a fan of medical thrillers, followed by a plug from a biotech professor, and finally shared by a lone literary critic).
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RD Jacobsen, January 7, 2010 (view all comments by RD Jacobsen)
Considering that this is a book that has sewage as one of it's main topics, that it is not only entertaining and thought-provoking but also so readable as to be hard to put down is particularly impressive.
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Taynb, October 10, 2009 (view all comments by Taynb)
I thought that this was a thoroughly enjoyable book to read. It wasn't too dry and Steve Johnson made reading about the 1854 Cholera epidemic in London a page turner.
I would really suggest this to anyone who loves to read this type of book.
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Product Details

Johnson, Steven
Riverhead Books
Infectious Diseases
Europe - Great Britain - General
Cholera - England - London - History -
Health and Medicine-History of Medicine
Edition Description:
Mass Market
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
from 12
8.20x5.56x.69 in. .62 lbs.
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » Literature
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » History of Medicine
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Specialties
History and Social Science » Europe » Great Britain » General History
History and Social Science » Europe » Western Europe » General
History and Social Science » World History » England » General
History and Social Science » World History » General
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Microbiology

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic -- and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 320 pages Riverhead Trade - English 9781594482694 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

In 1854, as a cholera epidemic ravaged London, prevailing wisdom blamed "miasma"; in other words, "bad air" was spreading the disease. One prominent physician disagreed. It was Dr. John Snow's work outside of the lab, however — his innovative mapmaking, of all things — that identified beyond a reasonable doubt the epidemic's true source. The Ghost Map thrives, similarly, on author Steven Johnson's interdisciplinary zeal. Local politics, medicine, urban planning, religious faith.... The Washington Post raves, "By turns a medical thriller, detective story and paean to city life, Johnson's account of the outbreak and its modern implications is a true page-turner."

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "On August 28, 1854, working-class Londoner Sarah Lewis tossed a bucket of soiled water into the cesspool of her squalid apartment building and triggered the deadliest outbreak of cholera in the city's history. In this tightly written page-turner, Johnson (Everything Bad Is Good for You) uses his considerable skill to craft a story of suffering, perseverance and redemption that echoes to the present day. Describing a city and culture experiencing explosive growth, with its attendant promise and difficulty, Johnson builds the story around physician John Snow. In the face of a horrifying epidemic, Snow (pioneering developer of surgical anesthesia) posited the then radical theory that cholera was spread through contaminated water rather than through miasma, or smells in the air. Against considerable resistance from the medical and bureaucratic establishment, Snow persisted and, with hard work and groundbreaking research, helped to bring about a fundamental change in our understanding of disease and its spread. Johnson weaves in overlapping ideas about the growth of civilization, the organization of cities, and evolution to thrilling effect. From Snow's discovery of patient zero to Johnson's compelling argument for and celebration of cities, this makes for an illuminating and satisfying read. B&w illus." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "In the short run, Snow and Whitehead saved hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives. In the long run, their work...resulted in efficient public waste disposal systems and disease control measures that saved millions worldwide. And that work is hardly done."
"Review" by , "Lively and educative."
"Review" by , "There's a great story here...and Johnson recounts it well....His book is a formidable gathering of small facts and big ideas, and the narrative portions are particularly strong, informed by real empathy for both his named and his nameless characters."
"Review" by , "The Ghost Map charts the London cholera epidemic of 1854, from which Johnson extracts a saga of human ingenuity and true communal effort."
"Review" by , "By turns a medical thriller, detective story and paean to city life, Johnson's account of the outbreak and its modern implications is a true page-turner."
"Review" by , "This is a marvelous little book, based to a large extent on the essays delivered to an academic colloquium, just as was Dava Sobel's Longitude (1996). Yet The Ghost Map is a far more ambitious and compelling work."
"Review" by , "The simultaneously macro and micro examination of a hugely pivotal moment, both in the understanding of disease and the growth of cities. Highly informative, deeply entertaining, meticulously assembled. Splendid."
"Synopsis" by , 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.

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