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 two million people packed into a 10-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and commerce, teeming with people from all over the world, continually pushing the limits of infrastructure that's outdated as soon as it's updated.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.
From the dynamic thinker routinely compared to Malcolm Gladwell, E.O. Wilson, and James Gleick, The Ghost Map is a riveting story with a real-life historical hero. It brilliantly illuminates the intertwined histories of the spread of viruses, the rise of cities, and the nature of scientific inquiry. These are topics that have long obsessed Johnson, and The Ghost Map is a true triumph of the kind of multidisciplinary thinking for which he's become famous. This is 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.
©2006 Steven Johnson; (P)2006 Tantor Media Inc.
"An illuminating and satisfying read." (Publishers Weekly)
"A formidable gathering of small facts and big ideas." (New York Times Book Review)
Mostly really interesting, but it felt like there was a lot of filler and repetition, and it wasn't nearly as focused as I would have liked. Good information, just...fairly shallow and not put across as well as I felt it could have been. The narrator was good though...
Excellent audiobook on the state of sanitation and the medical community in what was the most advanced civilized society of the times. Individual stories, explanations of medical theories, and the moral beliefs in London just as cities became magnets for jobseekers are all explained clearly, drawing a clear picture of what it must have been like to be poor in London at the time. Though narrated with an American accent, it was well performed.
When covering the events and people related to the Cholera outbreak of 1854, this book was enjoyable. Sadly, the epilogue was not as informative or enjoyable because of several inaccuracies relating to the influenza virus. Mr. Johnson failed to mention that one of the reasons that Avian influenza is so virulent is because it is a novel virus, i.e. a virus that the human population has not been previously exposed to, leading to a population that does not have immunity to the virus. Mr. Johnson also incorrectly states that the influenza virus is a DNA virus--influenza is an RNA virus.
This book is truly fantastic. Thoroughly engaging and covers much more than simply London's cholera outbreak, and yet did an excellent job doing that as well. I keep it on my Garmin at all times. I can't say enough about this book.
OK, it sounds like a history of cholera would be a real snoozer, but I was riveted by the construction of the mystery and its solution. Lots of great history in it, if you like health or technology topics. The epilogue is one of the most thought-provoking pieces on urban life I've listened to in a while.
Great story told pretty well. Lots to tell us about the modern situation as to whether we accept the conventional wisdom without applying critical thinking. Author only hints at the fact that water was sold by companies that had a vested interest in cholera being caused by something else and could pay advocates to promote that position, whereas the air was sold by no one and had no advocates except the amatruer scientist that are the heroes of this story. That makes it a little more understandable why the miasma theory of causation continued so long with so little support.
Interesting and exhaustive! review of 19th century cholera outbreak. Two hours of very interested listening punctuated by six hours of philosophizing, rehashing and review of the history of sociology, civilization, scientific theory etc. Tiresome digressions became irritating. Editor must've been asleep. I recommend abridged version if it ever became available.
This book was impossible to get through. I have been interested in history of medicine for a long time. Thus, when I found this audiobook about Dr. Snow’s epidemiological investigation of Cholera epidemic, I was excited. After listening to first hour of the book I was sure I had mistakenly downloaded another book. I was wrong however. What you have here is an incredibly detailed history of town planning of London, prevailing theories about disease causation and so on only tangentially connected to the main story (which occupies only 5% of the book I think). After 5 minutes talking about Cholera the author goes off discussing a side topic for 15-20 minutes. I gave up after 5 hours. In short, if you are looking for scholarly work about these topics (not Cholera) this book is for you. Otherwise stay away.
Monotone narration, but it's easy to listen to at 1.25 speed. Great first chapter and overall subject. It get pretty redundant and rambling I'm the second half with recap and prognostication.
This is a fascinating look at Victorian London through the lens of public sanitation and the state of scientific thinking at the time.
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