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Steven Johnson

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--And How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World

Title: The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--And How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World

Author: Steven Johnson

Format: Paperback

Language: English

Pages: 299

Publisher: , 0

ISBN: 1400102987

Format: PDF / Kindle / ePub

Size: 6.3 MB

Download: allowed


Description

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.

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and commerce, teeming with people from all over the world, continually pushing the limits of infrastructure that's outdated as soon as it's updated.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

Insightful reviews

Diane Librarian: This is one of the best nonfiction books I've read in awhile. It's about a cholera epidemic in London in 1854, and the author does a great job of explaining the various factors that helped cause the outbreak, including a population explosion and the lack of a proper sewage system. The book follows Dr. John Snow, who was the first person to identify that cholera was spread by contaminated drinking water.

I would recommend this book to history buffs, fans of epidemiology and also Anglophiles, because it brings Dickensian London to life.

Jeanette: This is a thorough detailing of the 1854 London Broad Street Cholera epidemic. The beginning was a bit too authoritarian and preachy, but the rest of the book was 5 star. The day by day progression of Whitehead, and John Snow in their respective fields working to tract an epidemiology was, to me, enthralling. The miasma theory being so completely embedded within worldview, Victorian science and culture- plus the speed of the bacterium equaled a nearly impossible task in overcoming the London and European mindset. Even within door to door mapping and the removal of the Broad Street Pump handle by Saturday- it took far past Snow's lifetime to have full acceptance of the water source evidence. The sections of the book about evolution of microbes and human city living are 6 star. And homo sapiens' memory and brainstem systems tied so closely to aroma and disease warning were 6 star, as well. This often obscures (and has throughout human history) with scentless and sightless materials which cause severe and deadly human outcomes.

Just from my own perspective, I have so often wondered that so many humans consistently embrace and exalt the glories and pleasures of urban density locations. This for both personal, work, and commute "green" reasons. When I cannot imagine living in such density when all waste has to be taken away and all food and drinking liquids shipped or piped in amidst so many other vectors. With 5 cities more than 20 million now, and at least 1/4th which are squatters- it is only a matter of time. Not just for bacteria crossing within human waste, but a mutated virus through an animal vector.

At one time it was a prerequisite for Chicago kids and college age classes to have some trip or class requirement tour into the Chicago Sewage plants on Lake Michigan, the reversal of the Chicago River lecture, the west of Chicago proper "poop ponds" for fertilizer products etc. And some even went into Deep Tunnel project. That's still ongoing. Our hunter gatherer ancestors would pall, and so do I- a BIG prejudice, at living anywhere with 400 people per acre.

London at that time was four times denser than Manhattan right now and with no skyscrapers- few buildings over 6 stories. Those poor people in those rooms dying in family groups. Johnson tries to give you some sense of what a small "stomach ache" pang might have done to your psyche at that time. I can't think of any situation in present day disease that leaves the mind so clear and the body so failing and horrific so quickly. It must have been emotional torture. Many dead in twelve hours, 100's more in 48.

Not only does this clearly draw the evidence for this particular high mark in perception needed at this specific time in history for water borne pathogens, but the book also completely demonstrates how the "truth" if it is a "whole piece" world view is often just not. This has applied to nearly every economic, scientific and logical "truth" outside of the hard sciences at one time or another. Often what everyone in majority "knows" or medicine or science accepts as empirically correct, just isn't, or is barely a sliver OR completely false within other context or vectors.

Moira Russell: This review is so EXACTLY my take on this book I'm just going to link to it.

The spine of the book, and the best part of it, is the long detailed explanation of what Snow and Whitehead did to trace (not stop!) the cholera epidemic, ending with that famous pump handle. I loved them -- they're seriously like little scientist versions of Holmes and Watson. The history-of-science parts discussing the evolutionary shift in ideas about contagion are also quite good. But the book falls down badly in some wild rhetorical thrashing about with regard to urban planning, city planets (or maybe it was planets of cities), biological terrorism, nuclear bombs (what), and how wonderful the internet is, and unfortunately most of that is the conclusion and epilogue to the book so that knocks off a star for me. Johnson can write fairly well, and certainly engage the reader with a riveting narrative, but his own attempts at Grand Theorizing (which he actually warns against, repeatedly, in his own book) are sadly misguided.

Dana: After i ended studying the book, I gave a silent prayer to thank God that I reside within the time and position that I do (early twenty first century US). i've got learn loads of books in recent years approximately sanitation, its history, the present prestige in undeveloped nations and attainable tools of improvement. The Ghost Map is the tale of 1850’s London, while uncooked sewage was once being pumped at once into the Thames River after which pumped again out back to supply ingesting water to hundreds of thousands of people. As one could expect, sickness and demise quickly followed. yet why? what was the reason for the issues? At this time, technological know-how had but to find microbes and so so much nice minds of the time blamed the air. which looking back looked to be self-evident. “The nice Stink” which enveloped London in this time is famous. learn any ebook or memoirs set in London within the mid eighteenth century and each one will comprise a touch upon the smell. earlier than the sewage used to be pumped into the river, it outfitted up in basements, streets, etc. It used to be no longer unusual for a basement to accumulate with 4-5 ft of uncooked human waste. The scent should have been unbearable. So, the air idea made sense. It wasn’t till Dr. John Snow commence employing a systematic technique to be certain the foundation reason that water was once pointed out because the resource of the sickness cholera. Cholera is an unforgiving disease. After eating the contaminated water, someone may be useless inside 24 hours (some held on for days). a pandemic may perhaps kill countless numbers if no longer hundreds of thousands in a week’s time. And as fast because it comes, it disappears. Scientists and governmental officers of the time blamed fetid air, particularly the air within the poorer sections of London. It used to be felt that poverty and cholera went hand in hand. Dr. Snow replaced all that. A humble guy who turned a physician to Queen Victoria (he utilized the chloroform utilized in the delivery of 1 of her final children); Dr. Snow had an important interest coupled with a commitment to the “scientific method”. He got down to locate how the disorder used to be being spread. utilizing the mortality expense schedules, he used to be in a position to create a map which confirmed the homes the place the deaths were the more severe and drawing upon his wisdom of the area, finally made up our minds the resource used to be a public water pump. the main interesting a part of the tale which aid sealed his discovery used to be the loss of life of a lady a lot additional outdoors the “hot zone”. whilst he chanced on that she grew up within the contaminated sector and hottest the water from the pump in question, he knew he had found the source. The deal with got here off the pump and the affliction stopped in its tracks. popularity progressively grew until eventually inside 20 years there have been not more said situations of cholera in nice Britain.I came across the tale attention-grabbing and the writer widens the view, discussing sanitation, medical methods, contagion theories, etc. utilizing the cholera epidemic as a beginning point, the reader is invited to work out the wider implications of ailment keep watch over and the way towns particularly should be impacted. I hugely suggest the book!

Croaker: On August 28, 1854, working-class Londoner Sarah Lewis emptied a bucket of waste water into the cesspool of her squalid condo development and prompted the deadliest outbreak of cholera within the city's history. A Victorian urban with greater than 2 million humans packed right into a ten-mile circumference. this can be the tale of 2 men: Dr. John Snow who pioneered using ether as an anesthetic within the United Kingdom, and on a private note, mentions the 1st clinical use of ether through Dr. William Morton; and the Reverend Henry Whitehead, an Oxford-educated younger guy whose Anglican calling did not anything to impede his fondness for London taverns. The e-book starts off with an outline of London as a urban of scavengers: bone-pickers, rag-gatherers, pure-finders, dredgermen, mud-larks, sewer-hunters, dustmen, night-soil men, bunters, toshers and shoremen. in contrast backdrop of vile and ghastly smells, and within the face of a scary epidemic, Snow posited the then radical concept that cholera used to be unfold via infected water instead of via miasma, or smells within the air. opposed to significant resistance from the clinical and bureaucratic establishment, Snow persevered and, with labor and groundbreaking research, helped to result in a basic swap in our figuring out of affliction and its spread. Johnson weaves in overlapping principles in regards to the progress of civilization, the association of cities, and evolution to exciting effect. it is a multifaceted booklet incorporating a detective story, an creation to stats (math), and a private history. The Ghost Map is a e-book that, just like the paintings of Jared Diamond, provides either brilliant heritage and a strong and provocative rationalization of what it potential for the realm we are living in. not like Jared Diamond however, Steve Johnson doesn't load the evidence to arrive the target that Diamond may have us believe. From Snow's discovery of sufferer 0 to Johnson's compelling argument for and occasion of cities, this makes for an illuminating and pleasurable read. it's not a ebook for the squeamish however; a brilliant description of dying from cholera is graphically and terrifyingly detailed. As attention-grabbing because the major physique of the booklet is, Johnson ends with an Epilogue, which i feel was once most likely written good after he accomplished the telling of Dr. Snow’s story. If, for no different reason, learn that chapter, yet don’t count on to sleep good again. And for those who learn a newspaper article a few chook employee demise in Thailand, take into consideration what could take place if H5N1 have been to suffer a unmarried transgenic shift. Now, attempt to return to sleep.

Rachel: I learn The Ghost Map: the tale of London's so much Terrifying Epidemic--and the way it replaced Science, Cities, and the fashionable global simply because i wished to benefit extra a couple of tale i assumed I knew. the tale I realized is going like this: in the course of a bad cholera outbreak in Victorian London, Dr. John Snow made a progressive map of the mortality, used to be like, “Holy crap! The deaths all radiate out from this one pump!” and got rid of the pump handle, therefore halting the epidemic lifeless in its tracks. Turns out, there are approximately seven books worthy of issues in here, wrestling one another for area with brawny arms. have been them all woven seamlessly jointly into one multifaceted, yet logically coherent, narrative? good no, actually, and that i discovered myself in a continuing whiplash among fascination and frustration during the book. Which left me with much to get off my chest, so in an effort to stream correct alongside to the following evaluate earlier than the unloading begins, I absolutely understand.The Contenders1. What really occurred with Dr. Snow, the development of the epidemic, the map and the pump deal with = Fascinating. Enthrallingly, this seems to be really varied than that tale that was once floating round my biology class. the best way the constitution follows the day-by-day ailment progress, the activities of Snow, and the formerly underemphasized function performed through neighborhood clergyman, Rev. Henry Whitehead -- all this used to be simply great. If the complete ebook have been like this, plus a number of extra maps (see 5, below), i'd have closed it a contented nerd, indeed.2.The background of a vintage medical paradigm shift from the miasma (bad air) thought of cholera transmission to the waterborne theory, championed by way of Snow = additional Fascinating. research of social forces operating in science? Why yes, please! This cholera epidemic struck prior to frequent popularity of germ theory, so most folks proposal that it (and different diseases) used to be because of stinky miasma interacting with bad people’s with ease innate weak point and inferiority and stuff. numerous years ahead of the vast highway epidemic, John Snow built an alternate, water-borne concept of cholera transmission, and proof supplied through this epidemic all started tipping the scales in its favor. Johnson covers the Kuhnian paradigm shift from miasma to water: the conditions that gave miasma such legs, how, within the grip of the miasma paradigm, a few parents designed an incredible research of this epidemic which could purely discover facts to help that paradigm and overlooked what used to be really occurring through like ten miles (and you recognize we’re completely doing this today, yet approximately what??), who replaced their minds (most people, eventually), who didn’t (some diehard folks that didn’t have even a nodding acquaintance with falsifiability), and why. See: a classic. (Did you recognize that Florence Nightingale used to be a dedicated miasmatist? I didn’t!) I wouldn’t have minded a small acknowledgement that a few ailments are actually airborne, so the miasma crowd was once now not as off-the-deep-end as herein presented, yet that’s a teeny quibble. 3. file on waste disposal in Victorian London, with specific cognizance given to poop = Fascinating. ‘Nuff said.4. Our smooth figuring out of the lifestyles background and evolution of the cholera bacterium = Frustrating, yet might be merely to me. Host/pathogen evolution and interactions are like sweet to me, simply because I’m bizarre like that, so i used to be fairly expecting this bit. Well, the publication and that i received off at the unsuitable foot while he all started with all that anthropomorphic language to explain the evolution of the cholera pathogen: the micro organism have been “waiting patiently,” had “strategies” and “desires.” He did say, twice, that in fact they’re not likely placing out and sentiently plotting our doom (for which, yay! Michael Pollan in Botany of Desire, please take note.), yet then he saved correct on utilizing the deceptive language. Dude! You’re a nonfiction writer! Taking complex techniques and making them comprehensible is your job! Why might you let us know evolution is essential to the story, let us know you’re explaining it wrong, then by no means truly clarify common choice precisely right? I didn’t get that at all.5. Snow’s maps as visible screens of quantitative info = additional Frustrating. the fellow positioned “Ghost Map” ahead of the colon, for Lord’s sake and dragged Tufte in, the least he may possibly do is exhibit us the entire maps he discusses. the single Snow map in my e-book was once now not even his progressive Voronoi diagram. Plus, i used to be loss of life to check Snow’s maps with the fewer precious division of Sewers illness map that preceded them. Yes, you'll find the entire maps within the John Snow on-line archive, yet of the seven pages of maps in here, why are they typically copies of a similar map, possible integrated for ornamental purposes? Why? Why?? 6. Treatise on ancient urbanization and the emergent homes of city-as-organism = attention-grabbing for approximately part a page, quick mutating into difficult thereafter. Johnson has a transparent parallel curiosity in those topics. stable on him: epidemiology and urbanization are intertwined in fascinating ways. However, i think like he can have handled it with a couple of fast paragraphs demonstrating the significance of city stipulations for sickness emergence and why the dimensions of John Snow’s investigations mattered, and moved on already. 7. Rampant hypothesis approximately effect of the huge road epidemic on destiny urbanization styles = FRUSTRATING. Now here’s the place Johnson takes that parallel curiosity deep into crazy-train territory. The e-book closes with a 25-page epilogue of not-too-convincingly-supported hand-waving approximately suitcase bombs, bioterrorism, avian flu and urbanization that, even now, has my eyebrows in a pucker over what the heck so a lot of it used to be doing in there. If he relatively desired to positioned an unique stamp at the ebook (which, after 25 pages of this jive, I’m beautiful confident he did), maybe axing 99% of the epilogue and producing a few new maps could were a much more appropriate approach to go. How amazing would it not be to determine maps exhibiting deaths over time, maps with diverse variables, maps of Snow’s facts made utilizing smooth epidemiological techniques, maps of alternative London cholera epidemics, etc.? Very remarkable indeed. In conclusion, extra maps make every little thing better. Thank you.

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