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

Book review by Deane Barker
tags: medicine, history, health
2006
Steven Johnson
299
9/10

Thrilling story of a cholera outbreak in London in the 1850s, and the physician who tracked down the source. At the time, illness was thought to come from “bad air,” but a physician named John Snow mapped the illnesses and determined that they were clustered around a water pump in Broad Street.

No one believed this, but Snow succeeded in having the pump handle removed, and thereby stopping the spread of the disease. In addition to saving thousands, Snow’s actions gave birth to the germ theory of disease, which revolutionized public health.

The book reads like a thriller, and towards the end, it turns into a discussion about the benefits of problems of urban dwelling and public health in general.

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