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The Ghost Map Audiobook
The Ghost Map
Written by: 
Steven Johnson
Narrated by: 
Alan Sklar
 >   > 
The Ghost Map Audiobook

The Ghost Map

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Publisher's Summary

This is a thrilling historical account of the worst cholera outbreak in Victorian London and a brilliant exploration of how Dr. John Snow's solution revolutionized the way we think about disease, cities, science, and the modern world.

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and commerce, teeming with people from all over the world, continually pushing the limits of infrastructure that's outdated as soon as it's updated.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.

What the Critics Say

"An illuminating and satisfying read." (Publishers Weekly)
"A formidable gathering of small facts and big ideas." (New York Times Book Review)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    D. Bajer Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 08-02-12
    D. Bajer Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 08-02-12 Member Since 2012

    Teacher, permaculture designer, master gardener, and systemes thinker.

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    "Another great book by Steven Johnson!"
    Would you listen to The Ghost Map again? Why?

    After listening to Steven's 'Where Good Ideas Come From', I knew that I had to hear more; 'The Ghost Map' did not disappoint.

    Reading like a novel, this masterpiece of investigative story telling chronicles life in 19th century London and the brilliant and serendipitous coming together of the ideas needed to combat cholera.

    I absolutely love Steven's analogy of the city as an ecosystem and his overarching description of how very conditions that lead to the pandemic of1854 were the very conditions that solved it.

    Great Listen!


    Any additional comments?

    Excellent narration by Alan Sklar; I know that narration can make or break an audiobook but I would go so far as to say that I can't imagine an audiobook that wouldn't be made better by this guy's narration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Agrippina Frogbottom Cardholder Services 07-15-12
    Agrippina Frogbottom Cardholder Services 07-15-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Excellent, albeit disgusting"

    The Ghost Map is a fascinating account of the appalling conditions of mid-nineteenth century London and of an early exercise in medical detective work. The initial chapters are not for the squeamish, and are a poor choice for listening while eating lunch. They concern, in a word, feces -- of various species (sorry, I couldn't resist the rhyme) although chiefly human.

    I think the beginning of the book was intended to give modern readers a healthy shock. (Fans of steampunk, for example, might do well to be reminded that the nineteenth century was not only the Age of Brass and Steam, but also of Filth and Stink -- or not, because steampunk is fantasy anyway. But I digress.) Johnson has interesting insights on how modernization and urbanization fostered disease. I'm not particularly a student of this era, so it was informative to me.

    The later chapters of the book are less nauseating than the beginning, although the book is, from beginning to end, about a disease of the digestive tract. (See previous caution about listening and lunch.)

    After finishing the book, I find that I have very little to say about the reader, which I think is a good thing. The reader enabled me to enjoy the book without getting in the way. This isn't perhaps the sort of glowing accolade that the reader would want to print out and tape onto his refrigerator or mail to his mother, but I consider it a compliment.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    andrew Bountiful, UT, United States 07-14-12
    andrew Bountiful, UT, United States 07-14-12
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    "Strangely Baritone, but worthy"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Simone 06-23-12
    Simone 06-23-12 Member Since 2016

    Follow me on Goodreads too!

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    "Good Read"

    Very interesting! But a few too many tangents. Doesn't ruin it though. It was a good Read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda 05-08-12
    Linda 05-08-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Non-fiction that reads like fiction"
    If you could sum up The Ghost Map in three words, what would they be?

    Biology, history and sociology....cartography and epidemiology, too.


    What other book might you compare The Ghost Map to and why?

    The Hot Zone, a real mystery that involved you like a mystery novel.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, yoko much factual information to grasp without pondering.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathleen Seattle, WA, United States 11-25-11
    Kathleen Seattle, WA, United States 11-25-11 Member Since 2005
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    "A seriously entertaining history!"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tina ALLSTON, MA, United States 11-09-11
    Tina ALLSTON, MA, United States 11-09-11 Member Since 2016
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    "Fascinating look into history & data manipulation."
    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of Alan Sklar’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dweliv8 03-29-07
    dweliv8 03-29-07
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    "Quick & Interesting"

    Quick listen. In depth. Great multi academic applications.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cranberry 02-09-07
    Cranberry 02-09-07 Member Since 2010
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    "Interesting"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Suisun City, CA, USA 01-21-07
    Mark Suisun City, CA, USA 01-21-07
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    "You'll Never Take Clean Water for Granted Again"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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