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163 of 178 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating: A look at the past, A look into the future., October 29, 2006
This review is from: The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World (Hardcover)
This is surprisingly, one fascinating and important read that spins the historical reality of pathogenic disease with a well crafted story regarding the plight of a society facing a treacherous epidemic. Combining an in-depth view regarding the indefatigable energy and brilliance of Dr. John Snow in his quest to solve the deadliest outbreak of cholera in the history of London, with the history of epidemic plagues, `The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic- And How it Changed Cities, Science, and The Modern World' provided me with one page-turning, gripping historical tale that also provided further insight into the plight free societies face today in lieu of the possabilities of biological or chemical attacks on innocent people.

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? I guess we can still look at Africa with great outrage and clearly say we're back in London during 1854! And this folks is important: in Johnson's attempt to share the history of the past, what he really is doing is talking about the immediate needs of to protect the most impoverished with assistance to medical treatment, and ongoing diligence to understand the nature of disease and how wide-spread health concerns effect not only those who are directly in contact with a pathogenic, but equally as important: how societies infrastructure's essentially crumble when epidemic disease spreads.

Writing with such an easy style that readers will not get lost, Johnson takes us on a fascinating trip with Dr. John Snow; clearly one of the scientific pioneers whose actions have saved the lives of untold people. Take your time and sit back with `The Ghost Map': it may bring you a bit closer to acting in a socially responsible way that connects all of us a bit further. It may even cause you to open your wallet and send a few much needed dollars to health care organizations attempting to follow the lead of Dr. Snow: determining pathogenic causes and feverishly attempting to help those in need. Steven Johnson's `The Ghost Map' is simply brilliant.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 20, 2009 7:12:38 AM PDT
Have you read "The strange case of the Broad Street pump : John Snow and the mystery of cholera / Sandra Hempel" published by University of California Press at Berkeley in 2007? How does this book compare?

Posted on Jun 8, 2012 12:47:39 PM PDT
gilly8 says:
Isn't this the epidemic which killed Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria? I believe the water supply in the castle was contaminated by the same bacteria...is that correct?

Posted on Dec 29, 2012 3:00:40 PM PST
I plan on getting your book. I just read, "London Underground" and found it fascinating.
Marty Hogan
Top 500 Reviewer
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