The Ghost Map--a national bestseller from a few years ago--is touted as highly accessible, vastly entertaining, and very illuminating. The Washington Post has this to tempt you: “By turns a medical thriller, detective story and paean to city life, Johnson's account of the outbreak and its modern implications is a true page turner.”
Wow, I enjoyed the poop out of this book! The Ghost Map is FUN, informative and not for the faint of stomach. An examination of Cholora's horrific decent on London in the mid-1800s reveals fascinating patterns not only in the disease but also in human society, infrastructure, bacteria, the city itself, and, yes, poop (or night soil, excrement, nuisance... this book is a 19th century thesaurus for human waste).— Tori
From the dynamic thinker routinely compared to Malcolm Gladwell, E. O. Wilson, and James Gleick, The Ghost Map is a riveting page-turner with a real-life historical hero that brilliantly illuminates the intertwined histories of the spread of viruses, rise of cities, and the nature of scientific inquiry. These are topics that have long obsessed Steven Johnson, and The Ghost Map is a true triumph of the kind of multidisciplinary thinking for which he's become famous-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.
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 2 million people packed into a ten-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and commerce, teeming with people from all over the world, continually pushing the limits of infrastructure that's outdated as soon as it's updated.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.
When he creates the map that traces the pattern of outbreak back to its source, Dr. Snow didn't just solve the most pressing medical riddle of his time. He ultimately established a precedent for the way modern city-dwellers, city planners, physicians, and public officials think about the spread of disease and the development of the modern urban environment.
The Ghost Map is an endlessly compelling and utterly gripping account of that London summer of 1854, from the microbial level to the macrourban-theory level--including, most important, the human level.
Watch a QuickTime trailer for this book.