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.