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The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World Paperback – October 2, 2007
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More About the Author
His latest book, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, was a finalist for the 800CEORead award for best business book of 2010, and was ranked as one of the year's best books by The Economist. His book The Ghost Map was one of the ten best nonfiction books of 2006 according to Entertainment Weekly. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Steven has also co-created three influential web sites: the pioneering online magazine FEED, the Webby-Award-winning community site, Plastic.com, and most recently the hyperlocal media site outside.in, which was acquired by AOL in 2011. He serves on the advisory boards of a number of Internet-related companies, including Meetup.com, Betaworks, and Nerve.
Steven is a contributing editor to Wired magazine and is the 2009 Hearst New Media Professional-in-Residence at The Journalism School, Columbia University. He won the Newhouse School fourth annual Mirror Awards for his TIME magazine cover article titled "How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live." Steven has also written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and many other periodicals. He has appeared on many high-profile television programs, including The Charlie Rose Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He lectures widely on technological, scientific, and cultural issues. He blogs at stevenberlinjohnson.com and is @stevenbjohnson on Twitter. He lives in Marin County, California with his wife and three sons.
Top Customer Reviews
When I was recommended to read Steven Johnson's book, it was not for the sake of diving into a good read, but rather to `browse' through it for further insight on the origins of water contamination and how, thru these origins, terrorist could look at contamination for horrific purposes. As a writer with an interest in international affairs, and a tendency to use fiction storytelling to share my views, I opened Steven Johnson's book and within pages was completely hooked on this extraordinarily written, well researched tell all of the London epidemic of cholera that killed so many lives.
With reflection on how science viewed pathogenic outbreaks during the midpoint of the 19th Century, it was startling to find that there really existed a classification system that gave all sorts of bizarre reasons why a disease would spread, including a weight based upon wealth and financial disposition! We sure have come a long way . . . or have we?Read more ›
What makes the book so good is the way it places you into the mind of someone living in London in 1854 and making you understand why it was so hard for them to accept the true cause of the disease when it seems so obvious to us today. That experience makes a thoughtful reader wonder what things we take for granted today that will seem so obviously wrong in 150 years.
The book stays at four stars, not five, for several reasons. First off, the actual namesake of the book, The Ghost Map, is little more than a tacked-on afterthought at the conclusion of the book. It's interesting, but more of a post-script than anything else, and certainly not appropriate as the title of the book - somebody must have thought it sounded like it would sell books. No worries though, the book it sells is a good one.
Also, Johnson goes on some odd tangents at the end of the book talking about city life and trying to tie internet technology back to the work Snow did. It's a reach and not terribly relevant.Read more ›
Two men, Dr. John Snow and Rev. Henry Whitehead, began to suspect that the true culprit was water from the neighborhood pump and conducted an assiduous investigation that finally proved them right. Although most doctors and scientists were reluctant to discard the miasma theory, eventually the weight of the evidence convinced them that Snow and Whitehead were correct.
Like all good histories, The Ghost Map branches from the main story to trace the many different ways in which Snow and Whitehead's investigations helped lead to the development of modern cities. I especially enjoyed the final chapters and epilogue, in which Johnson identifies many ways in which our modern mega-cities are both more vulnerable (yet thanks to technology and communications safer and better able to cope with threats as well) than was London in 1854.
The Ghost Map is an engrossing read, well written, scholarly, yet dramatic too. It will appeal to historians and fans of medical detection alike.
Great: the background on Victorian sanitation and the human ecology that grew up about this sanitation (or lack thereof). For example, I bet you didn't know there was a whole occupation devoted to the collection of "pure" (dog poo) used in the tanning process. The details of the spread of cholera in the outbreak traced by Dr. Snow are fascinating, as is the dissection of the cult of miasma. The varnished cover, with a ghostly map (but it's not *the ghost map*) appearing at the right angle is very cool.
Not so great: This is a book called "The Ghost Map". It could use a great deal more cartography. The wonderful cover to the despite, there's no reproduction that I could see of the eponymous ghost map in the book.
The book could also have used a good editor, or at least some more self-editing on the part of Mr. Johnson. Coverage of Victorian sanitation, Dr. Snow, and the cholera outbreak of 1854 is fascinating every icky step of the way. But when Johnson heads out of the limits of his tale and heads into Jane Jacobs territory, his chapters begin to sound like lightly reworked Wired articles. Johnson's thoughts on global warming, for example, really do not belong in this book. A more disciplined approach to narrative could have produced a great and classic title. Alas, this book is not.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've listened to this work three times through already, and I know I will again. It is well written, and very well read. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Andrea Schwartz
I am fascinated by the history of the treatment of disease, so I was drawn to this book just to learn more about cholera. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Carol Wise
A well-researched exploration of how two men - one, a "gentleman scientist," the other, an observant and curious prelate - applied scientific method (a rare and... Read morePublished 21 days ago by J Thomas
This is a great book. It reads like fast paced fiction and does an excellent job of conveying the spirit of the time. Read morePublished 1 month ago by eric j rotzoll
Looking for an engaging audible book for a long drive, I came across The Ghost Map. I knew nothing about Steven Johnson or cholera, except that people were always dying of it in... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Kristine I. Hintz
great book - this is my second copy. The author now has a show on PBS that seems to be based on what he did with this book. Read morePublished 3 months ago by A. Garcia
an excellent portrayal of the events of the Broad St. cholera outbreak.Published 3 months ago by Wayne Rousseau
Well-researched and easy to read, this book tells the story of the cholera outbreak in an engaging way, but also ventures into the conditions that made it possible, the medical... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Delta Leeper