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and commerce, teeming with people from all over the world, continually pushing the limits of infrastructure that's outdated as soon as it's updated.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)
I do not always want perfect radio voices reading to me, but this one took some time to get used to. The narrator has a very unique voice, and I'm not sure why they picked him. He does a good job, just in an extreme baritone with a dramatic murder-mystery show type promo voice. It doesn't sound real. I love this author, he hops about and makes great connections. His writing reminds me of a fun show I used to watch on TV called "Connections" actually. That breaks up the story and takes you on wonderful asides. Its been a bit, but I remember loving the story of Doctor Snow and the discovery here of waterborn illnesses is fascinating, and learning how it led to new city planning and other innovations. This is my least favorite by this author, however. Which is not exactly a compliment, but not a slight either. He just writes great books. It might rate higher if not for the intensity of the vocals.
Biology, history and sociology....cartography and epidemiology, too.
The Hot Zone, a real mystery that involved you like a mystery novel.
No, yoko much factual information to grasp without pondering.
Don't listen to this in a public place, like the train station, or people will think you crazy -- since this narrative will drive you to shout "Holy COW!" and "Oh my GOD, are you KIDDING me?!" repeatedly. Don't listen to it during lunch, unless you have a seriously strong stomach.
If you enjoyed the likes of Guns, Germs, and Steel, you will probably love The Ghost Map. It's shorter, quite a bit lighter, but is absolutely packed with jaw dropping details about Victorian London. If you enjoy Arthur Conan Doyle, you will likely love The Ghost Map, which reads like a Sherlock Holmes mystery in which Dr. Watson does the sleuthing while Holmes is on holiday.
Johnson does a fantastic job of weaving a trainload of London history, sociology, and medical history into a narrative that feels more like a novel.
The only criticism I have is that the last section feels a little soap-boxy, but it's a minor fault -- the sociological issues are sufficiently intriguing.
as an engineer i like data. i thoroughly enjoyed the transition from anecdotal story into the presentation of data to prove the root cause of Cholera and how to prevent further transmission.
As usual, Alan Sklar is up to the task of reading a scientifically intriguing text. His tone keeps you engaged as he seems to be on the edge of his seat as you are.
This was very interesting, although at time it did tend to drag a bit. Despite that, the narration was good, and the topic and story kept the book moving along. Perfect length, I wouldn't have lasted too many hours more.
Truly a fascinating look at one of the unsung heroes of city development and management - wastewater removal and treatment. One small slip and we're all at risk to water-borne diseases such as cholera. I also appreciated the solid look at overcoming scientific hysteria to find fact. I doubt that the author meant to be quite so ironic when he listed his support at the end of the text for several current issues that may themselves turn out to be just as hysterical as miasma was in the 19th century.
A solid story with excellent character development, a good mystery, and plenty of every day relevance. I just wish I had stopped before listening to the socialist screed in the appendix, but I suppose that was probably Johnson's motivation for writing the book.
At the end I felt like shouting, "I believe." like I was at a revival camp meeting. The story of Snow was interesting but just the platform for the author's preaching. I finished it but it was touch and go.
Poorly written, but well read. Parts of it were good, but the author opinions are unspported by facts. To claim this is event resulted in the first "real" map and the urban lifestyle is just BS. Reminds me of a college junior - has one idea and beats you to death with it.
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