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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
Johnson, Steven (Book - 2006 )
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Ghost Map


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From the dynamic thinker routinely compared to Malcolm Gladwell, E. O. Wilson, and James Gleick, The Ghost Map is a riveting page-turner with a real-life historical hero that brilliantly illuminates the intertwined histories of the spread of viruses, rise of cities, and the nature of scientific inquiry. These are topics that have long obsessed Steven Johnson, and The Ghost Map is a true triumph of the kind of multidisciplinary thinking for which he's become famous-a book that, like the work of Jared Diamond, presents both vivid history and a powerful and provocative explanation of what it means for the world we live in. The Ghost Map takes place in the summer of 1854. A devastating cholera outbreak seizes London just as it is emerging as a modern city: more than 2 million people packed into a ten-mile circumference, a hub of travel and commerce, teeming with people from all over the world, continually pushing the limits of infrastructure that's outdated as soon as it's updated. Dr. John Snow--whose ideas about contagion had been dismissed by the scientific community--is spurred to intense action when the people in his neighborhood begin dying. With enthralling suspense, Johnson chronicles Snow's day-by-day efforts, as he risks his own life to prove how the epidemic is being spread. When he creates the map that traces the pattern of outbreak back to its source, Dr. Snow didn't just solve the most pressing medical riddle of his time. He ultimately established a precedent for the way modern city-dwellers, city planners, physicians, and public officials think about the spread of disease and the development of the modern urban environment. The Ghost Map is an endlessly compelling and utterly gripping account of that London summer of 1854, from the microbial level to the macrourban-theory level--including, most important, the human level. Watch a QuickTime trailer for this book. .
Authors: Johnson, Steven, 1968-
Title: The ghost map
the story of London's most terrifying epidemic--and how it changed science, cities, and the modern world
Publisher: New York :, Riverhead Books,, 2006
Characteristics: 299 p. :,ill., maps ;,24 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Steven Johnson
ISBN: 1594489254
9781594489259
Branch Call Number: 614.514 J69g 2006
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Report This May 30, 2012
  • pegcart rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I love how in telling a great story the author teaches me history and also relates it to the world we live in and future implications.

Report This Sep 24, 2011
  • MeReneG rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Fascinating look at how the early days of public health and epidemiology research (and two of its pioneers) solved the 1854 London cholera epidemic -- and helped prevent future outbreaks. // Well worth the read, regardless of your favourite genre.

Report This Feb 03, 2011
  • m2 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Terrific book about how a doctor and a priest determined the cause of London's cholera outbreaks in the summer of 1854 and how their discovery changed science -- and engineering! Very very readable. Historical, scientific and also a facinating human story.

Report This Aug 28, 2010
  • Gardengallivant rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Fascinating look into how people viewed disease and why it was so difficult to come to understand the influences when they could not be directly observed. The deductive reasoning by Dr Snow is an perfect example of why empirical evidence is so important to the scientific method.

Report This Jan 12, 2010
  • neko rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Johnson takes you into the heart of Victorian London gripped by disease. That we are able to walk these old streets and understand its people is an example of an excellently written book. November 2009 Non-Fiction book club selection

Report This Dec 05, 2009
  • GailRoger rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Very accessible. When I first began reading this, I wondered why the author seemed to veer off on tangents, but as I progressed, his points came together.

Report This Jul 04, 2007
  • KarenW rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Recommended by a friend that this nonfiction book is a great read about cholera, I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical. But I decided to give it a try. And wow, what a book! Imagine having the sewage to your home pile up in the basement until the night-soil men come along and remove it. To the street where it lays until someone picks it up in a cart to haul off to the river! The leading theory at the time was that miasma, or a lingering stench, was to blame. Until the clever Dr. John Snow started to investigate the water supply. A detective story and historical true story rolled into one makes this truly a page turner about the devil we have beaten back into submission. For now.

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EPL Great Stuff - Diego on The Ghost Map

Diego thinks there's no better example of saving the world than following the example of a pure researcher and a street-wise priest in Steven Johnson's The Ghost Map. Check it out at EPL: bit.ly/193fE35

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