When I initially read Steven Johnson's "Ghost map" a few years back, I was either young and impressionable or I skipped parts."Ghost Map" : Take Two
When I initially read Steven Johnson's "Ghost map" a few years back, I was either young and impressionable or I skipped parts.
I'm betting on the latter.
In looking for something while trying out my library's eAudio selections (their non-fiction is poor), I decided to reread "Ghost map." The first half (and some of the conclusion) was as interesting as I remembered (as interesting as you can get when talking about disease and death) and I would recommend it. As other reviewers have pointed out the author does have a slightly annoying habit of repeating himself - which during the first half I could forgive. The author also tends to meander between topics (before returning to the story of the outbreak) which personally I don't mind (and which I love when it's done well), but could be off-putting to others expecting a straight-forward account.
I would also recommend the book as opposed to the audio. I hated the narration. The reader spoke too fast and at times was monotone. But what drove me nuts was that he (as an apparent non-British speaker) would start a quote with a British accent, but halfway through the accent would disappear. There were also sections where a quote would end and the author begin, but it wasn't clearly delineated during the reading.
In my opinion, skip the conclusion and the epilogue. The latter was especially painful. Johnson only mentions the importance of the map (which I was ignorant of, being only an occasional popular science reader) during his conclusion. It would have been more helpful (and interesting) as a said layman reader, for him to have brought out the importance of the map (and hence the title of his book) earlier, or (better yet) earmarked an entire chapter to it's legacy.
Instead, the reader has to wade through a muddled theory of how city life is better for us and the environment, despite terrorists (the twin tower deaths were no big deal, btw)* and a super flu. Though I live in a fairly large city, and it's convenient and useful (and while I will probably remain in a city for the remainder of my life, I'm not particularly attached to city life), I find his constant "city is everything" methodology annoying (and cities without green space, really?)
*While that's not what Johnson said or meant, the way he phrased that section made it seem as if he were belittling (not in the sense of making light of, but more brushing aside) the loss of human life. This is my opinion of his writing - you may see it differently....more
Part biography and part general history of the influenza outbreak of 1918, with a dash of modern health, Dr. Fred and the Spanish Lady reads very muchPart biography and part general history of the influenza outbreak of 1918, with a dash of modern health, Dr. Fred and the Spanish Lady reads very much like a local history. It traces the development of the Spanish flu from its mysterious origins, focusing heavily on how it impacted British Columbia, and more specifically, Vancouver and Victoria.
Despite its 200-plus pages, it's an easy read, sans foot- or endnotes, but includes a list of sources (the authors drew heavily from primary sources - newspapers, private papers, interviews, etc.) and a very brief bibliography (all books on the flu itself).
Excellent for genealogists' who have roots in B.C. While there are a few names listed, it's more valuable for showing the impact this major epidemic had on the local area. ...more
As a beginner's introduction to the system, this was a good book. It gave a brief history, an overview of the methods used, as well as (for the most pAs a beginner's introduction to the system, this was a good book. It gave a brief history, an overview of the methods used, as well as (for the most part) easy instructions with lots of pictures. Enough to whet my appetite for more and make me want to see out a more comprehensive book (or teacher).
I read this in preparation for attending a one-hour workshop presented by a local reiki master and teacher....more
The Ghost Map is a vivid portrayal of a real-life historical medical mystery in the heart of 1850s London. Touching upon social history, the developmeThe Ghost Map is a vivid portrayal of a real-life historical medical mystery in the heart of 1850s London. Touching upon social history, the development of scientific thought, urbanization, and microbiology, The Ghost Map is both enlightening and terrifying – and a very readable microhistory of an event that still has an impact upon today’s world.
30 December 2013 Edit: I'm currently listening to the audiobook version (since I'm testing the waters of my library's eAudiobook catalogue - and the selection of non-fiction audio is very poor). While the book is still good, I can't say I'm very fond of the narrator. I recently finished listening to Rebecca Skloot's "Immortal life of Henrietta Lacks" and I think I was spoiled for the reader (she was excellent). This one... not so much....more
I was mislead into thinking this would be a world history of the Influenza pandemic of 1918 from the title. It should have been subtitled "The Epic AmI was mislead into thinking this would be a world history of the Influenza pandemic of 1918 from the title. It should have been subtitled "The Epic American Story of the Deadliest Plague in History". Not a bad book otherwise, for a general (American) history of the 1918 flu outbreak....more