Emily'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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's review
Jan 28, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2010
Read from January 28 to February 01, 2010

An insightful synthesis of the 1854 Broad Street cholera outbreak, how it was brought about by the changing city conditions of that era, and how the debate over its cause involved competing scientific methods endemic to that time. Johnson evidently takes great enjoyment in tying together the threads of the story from the molecular level (how does cholera thrive in the small intestine?) to the level of a city (how does cholera thrive in a neighborhood?). Unfortunately, he gets overenthusiastic and offers a lumpy, excessively long epilogue on the perils of modern city living. The book is at its best when Johnson colorfully illustrates Victorian slum life and Dr. John Snow's dogged efforts to trace cholera's spread from street to street.
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