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

The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson
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M 50x66
's review
Apr 24, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: scientific-non-fiction
Read in April, 2012

The Ghost Map is a superb mix of mystery/history and your college microbiology textbook. The story is based in a London, during the time of rampant growth and the birth of large cities. It follows a factually and historically accurate journey of brilliant physician, Dr. John Snow, and his quest to find the source of a deadly cholera epidemic.
The book felt like the perfect balance of historical narrative and page turning mystery. When Dr. Snow experiences his epiphany, I felt like I was as well. Steven Johnson's use of narration and storytelling help take the edge off the usually wordy/technical/boring aspects of Microbiology. There can be times when the transition between the historical narration and the main story line seem to disconnect, leaving the reader to backtrack a couple pages to get ones bearings. These disconnects, while minor and few in number, were enough to keep me from finishing this book in a short time (less than 7 days). Perhaps it was purposeful; I found myself, in between reads, researching Cholera, Dr. Snow and medicinal practices of the 1850's. Contemplating the unique challenges that those people faced and the sure fascination and amazement that must have come with discovering new information and medical breakthroughs.
This book is a definite must read for anyone with a history, scientific, anthropologic or medical background. For those of you reading this who don't fall into one of those categories, it is still worth a 20 page sampling.

*This is my first book review, please email me or message me with criticisms (+/-)

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