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The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump: John Snow and the Mystery of Cholera Hardcover – January 1, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0520250499 ISBN-10: 0520250494 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 331 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (January 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520250494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520250499
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,332 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"'The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump' has depth and poignance."
(Joan Acocella New Yorker 2013-10-14)

From the Inside Flap

"Meticulously researched and with a sophisticated approach to history, this is also an exciting and compelling story. After reading it, I dreamt about being lost and scared at night in the filthy lanes of Victorian London."—Andrew Cunningham, Senior Research Fellow in History of Medicine, University of Cambridge

"This book is one of those rare gems that thrills like fiction but is based on fact. It tells of the clear thought and quiet endeavour of a man who, without seeking honour or fame, persisted in overcoming prejudice and separating fact from fancy. john Snow discovered the way in which epidemic cholera was caught and nearly always killed us. By doing so he not only told the world how to prevent it, he laid the basis for the the prevention of all the world's medical ills—the science of epidemiology."—Dr. Mike Smith, Former NHS Director of Public Health (UK), and current 'resident' GP for Channel 5 News.

"This vivid book about the victories of science over ignorance provides insight as we head towards the next epidemic."—Dr. Paul Volberding, Director of the Center for AIDS Research, University of California, San Francisco

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Squanto McButterpants on March 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I generally liked this book, which does a nice job of telling the story of the cholera epidemics in Britain in the 1800s and John Snow's role in solving the mystery of how cholera is transmitted. However, this book is not just about John Snow's work --- there are many tangents to examine other prominent historical figures of the time, some of which I found forced and distracting, and the afterward on global climate change seemed like a hasty afterthought. Still, if you are interested in the origins of modern epidemiology you will like this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Charles J. Rector on April 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Broad Street Pump is a good book about how the mystery of the Cholera outbreaks was solved by a determined doctor.

During the 19th Century, there were 3 great pandemics that killed large numbers of people in Asia & Europe. The primary killer was cholera, a disease for which there was no known cure.

One physician who sought a cure for cholera was John Snow who was a disciplined individual who suffered from the disdain of the British medical profession. Snow's research led him to the conclusion that cholera's spread was through contaminated drinking water.

In Snow's "grand experiment" he identified a contaminated pump and disabled it and by doing so began the defeat of the disease in London. Snow's work also furthered the development of germ theory and helped debunk the widely held theory of spontaneous generation of diseases.

This is a good book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Debbie TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover
"The Strange Case of the Broad Street Pump" describes the waves of cholera that spread across the world from 1817 to 1866, what was done to treat it, and what was discovered about it. While many people and places were mentioned, we learned the most about John Snow since he made the greatest discovery about how cholera was spread and the main focus was on the cholera-related events in London, England. The book also described related topics like the medical and sanitary practices of the day, medical training, etc. Sometimes it felt like the author was wandering off topic, but these asides still gave an interesting look at the time period.

The author frequently quoted letters, journal articles, case notes, etc., from that time period They described what someone sick with cholera went through, the medical views on the spread and treatment of cholera, etc. There were also black-and-white illustrations: political cartoons and posters about cholera from that time period.

If talking about drinking water that contains feces and mentions of people throwing up grosses you out, then you might not enjoy the many vivid descriptions in this book. However, I found it an interesting, easy read from start to finish. The author clearly explained the (few) medical terms she used as well as any outdated phrasings in the quotes that might be confusing.

Cholera is another example of how the majority of scientists at that time were so sure of their own ideas about how sickness was transmitted that they couldn't see the truth even when John Snow clearly showed that they were wrong. Anyone who believes that "if most scientists say it then it must be true" should read books like this. :) Maybe they're right, maybe they aren't, but they aren't right just because they're in the majority.

In any case, I recommend this book to those who aren't easily grossed out who are interested in cholera and the advances in science that occurred while trying to fight it.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very good telling of the beginnings of the science, and art, of epidemiology. Not as simple as it is often presented, especially viewed thru the 20/20 lens of hindsight. Snow was a prophet often without honor in his own country, and his contributions were not fully appreciated at the time. His methods, though, especially the maps he developed to describe the distribution of the outbreak, were a breakthrough in the analysis of epidemic disease.
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By C. McK. HOLMES on November 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A well-written account of a very significant period of history in London. This book gives a wider picture of the whole sorry saga of the cholera epidemics, and how one man's efforts solved the problem.
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