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The Ghost Map: A Street, an Epidemic and the Hidden Power of Urban Networks.

The Ghost Map: A Street, an Epidemic and the Hidden Power of Urban Networks. [Kindle Edition]

Steven Johnson
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Product Description


"The simultaneously macro and micro examination of a hugely pivotal moment, both in the understanding of disease and the growth of cities. Highly informative, deeply entertaining, meticulously assembled. Splendid." -- William Gibson, author of Spook Country

'A wonderful book' -- Mail on Sunday

'Enthralling ...vivid and gripping' -- New Statesman

'A thumping page-turner' -- Daily Telegraph

'A thumping page-turner' -- Daily Telegraph

-- Spectator

Product Description

In Ghost Map Steven Johnson tells the story of the terrifying cholera epidemic that engulfed London in 1854, and the two unlikely heroes – anaesthetist Doctor John Snow and affable clergyman Reverend Henry Whitehead – who defeated the disease through a combination of local knowledge, scientific research and map-making.

In telling their extraordinary story, Johnson also explores a whole world of ideas and connections, from urban terror to microbes, ecosystems to the Great Stink, cultural phenomena to street life. Re-creating a London full of dirt, dust heaps, slaughterhouses and scavengers, Ghost Map is about how huge populations live together, how cities can kill – and how they can save us.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting read with a flawed ending 2 Nov 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Steven Johnson's narrative initially grabs you by the throat and the book is literally a page turner if there ever was one. A parade of the most appaling professions with which people eked out a meagre existence, the hairraising living conditions of the majority of Londoners and the very vivid and utterly dramatic description of the course of the disease (most people who contracted cholera died within 48 hours and knew it; they often saw their families dying before their very eyes without being able to do anything) makes you realise how lucky we are to be living in the present and not in Victorian times. But after 228 pages Johnson loses his thread somewhere and the remaining thirty-odd pages are quite frankly awfully boring and have little or no bearing on what went on before. An editor would have been welcome indeed. But since the lion's share of the book deserves eight stars and only the last tiny bit two, my verdict in the end would be five.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but overlong 16 April 2008
I read this after it was recommended on Radio 4's book club, and thought that it was generally pretty good. It was obviously well researched and the writing was engaging. My only complaint was that the story did not have enough substance to justify a book that is couple of hundred pages long. Initially, I really enjoyed the book, with its evocative descriptions of Victorian London - night soil men and all. However, the author soon began repeating himself and labouring certain points (I lose count of how many times he stated that Dr Snow and Rev Whitehead were mutually dependent on each other when it came to solving the problem of how cholera is transmitted - but it felt like too many!) My overall impression was that this story would have made a good article, but that it had insufficient depth to require a book of this length.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read right up until the end 30 Mar 2010
The author told this tale of the first epidemiological study, and how it put an end to cholera in London, with such mastery of language and pacing. But then the last chapter was cobbled together by musing on the future, ruminating about potential threats to health, and making tenuous connections to John Snow's work. Still well worth reading, but the ending will ensure that it becomes dated rapidly.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant 18 May 2008
By D. Rook
A really well detailed account, and interesting history of the battle with Cholera by Dr. Snow and his colleagues in Victorian London. Anyone who is considering a profession in health care or studying medicine at university, i strongly recommend this book. It manages to portray health care at the time of the epedemic with plenty of background knowledge and scientific reasoning which makes it insteresting and very informative.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 3 July 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent read
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5.0 out of 5 stars One to pass onto friends 22 Mar 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A really good read! This is a true account of a crisis in British history that has often been overlooked.
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Popular Highlights

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epidemics create a kind of history from below: they can be world-changing, but the participants are almost inevitably ordinary folk, following their established routines, not thinking for a second about how their actions will be recorded for posterity. &quote;
Highlighted by 5 Kindle users
most of the techniques for managing that kind of population density that we now take for granted—recycling centers, public-health departments, safe sewage removal—hadn’t been invented yet. &quote;
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Snow’s work was constantly building bridges between different disciplines, some of which barely existed as functional sciences in his day, using data on one scale of investigation to make predictions about behavior on other scales. &quote;
Highlighted by 3 Kindle users

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