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

Smile, sit down, and read
by Steven Johnson | Nonfiction |
ISBN: 1594482691 Global Overview for this book
Registered by quietorchid of Saint Paul, Minnesota USA on 6/11/2013
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
7 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by quietorchid from Saint Paul, Minnesota USA on Sunday, September 29, 2013
This was one of the first books I registered for BC. As a consequence, I was more laconic and guarded than usual. here is my original review:

"Fascinating account of how the connection between water supply and cholera was made." [July 5, 2008, 1 week after I joined BC]

While a case can be made that this is what the book was about.... Okay. Public Health was not a concern in the early 19th century in the West. Sometimes I blame it on the Christian philosophy of "the poor, you will have with you always' or some such. Fatalism; they like it. The search for Cholera by an engineer was an odd intersection of the growth of civic systems and disease control. From the clean water of London, all sorts of things became possible in the West. Great detective story, great public weal story. Enjoy.

Fly far little book!

Journal Entry 2 by quietorchid at Saint Paul, Minnesota USA on Monday, September 30, 2013

Released 7 yrs ago (9/30/2013 UTC) at Saint Paul, Minnesota USA


Put into The Medicine Chest Bookbox IV to look for a new reader!

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Journal Entry 3 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Thursday, October 10, 2013
I've already read this, so I'll be putting it back in the bookbox, but I did want to add my comments. [I'm making a new JE and release notes instead of using the still-in-the-wild box, to see if that helps quietorchid with stats {wry grin}.]

This book's a medical-mystery/history about the discovery of how cholera was transmitted - a discovery that was based on the patterns of illness in the residents of London during the 1854 epidemic. I enjoy reading this kind of history/mystery/disaster mix, and this isa good one, a decent historical-pop-science-disaster account of the attempt to stop a cholera epidemic, with more twists and turns than I'd expected. [It all seems so obvious once you have microscopes and germ-theory and stuff!] It was also impressive to find how many social changes that seem standard now came about during that time and through the efforts of some of the major players in this account.

There's also discussion as to why it took so long to convince people that the older theory of "miasma" - some kind of evil air that caused the illnesses - was incorrect, even though mounting evidence should have told them so long before. And there is plenty of evidence that even with new data, the various boards and commissions that met to determine whether the suggestions should be implemented often flatly refused to even try any new methods. And (of course) what finally prompted action wasn't a rise in mortality rates but the "Great Stink," a miasma that reached the nostrils of much of central London and got the attention of those who hadn't especially noticed cholera deaths in the poor quarters.

Once the decision had been made to construct new sewer lines, the scope of the immense project became apparent; how they managed to insert the new work in among all the existing buildings, roads, etc. is remarkable. But the book doesn't end with the construction of the new sewer lines; the author goes on to speculate about sewage and health issues in developing countries, and to apply the mapping methods used in 1854 London to modern-day problems of potential global epidemics.

Journal Entry 4 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Thursday, October 10, 2013

Released 7 yrs ago (10/12/2013 UTC) at Nashua, New Hampshire USA


I'm leaving this book in the bookbox for someone else to enjoy!

*** Released as part of the 2013 Halloween Spooktacular release challenge. ***

Journal Entry 5 by winghyphen8wing at Honolulu, Hawaii USA on Saturday, December 21, 2013
Taken from quietorchid's Medicine Chest IV - looks interesting!

Journal Entry 6 by winghyphen8wing at Honolulu, Hawaii USA on Monday, August 26, 2019
Finally got around to this and I'm glad I did.

Quite an interesting read: Snow & Whitehead did some really excellent detective work in the face of the miasma theory. The level of detail of what they documented (so-and-so had a glass of water with his lunch) is amazing...and pretty conclusive when you look at it. The info about cities at the end is thought-provoking.

Some background info:

Germ theory vs. miasma theory - Death and miasma in Victorian London: an obstinate belief
• WHO fact sheet on cholera
• NPR The Mysterious Life of the Cholera Bacterium
• UCLA site about John Snow (mentioned in the "further reading" section of the text)
• Journal image from an article in the Harvard Gazette.

Also, I wasn't previously aware of the 311 system, perhaps because it doesn't seem to be available (yet?) in my area.

Journal Entry 7 by winghyphen8wing at Honolulu, Hawaii USA on Tuesday, September 17, 2019
This book is headed out as a bookray!

Here are the instructions:

1. Make a quick journal entry when you receive the book so we know it got to you safely.

2. VOLUNTARY - let's see if anyone reads this part! ;) If you're willing, please PM hyphen8 for my address and send me a postcard with some interesting stamps on it for my mom the stamp collector, especially if you're not in the US.

3. Read and send on within 1 month - or make a journal entry to let us know how it's going if you need to keep the book longer. I realize that sometimes life gets in the way of BookCrossing, but please keep us posted on what's happening.

4. Make a journal entry when you've finished - tell us what you thought!

5. Check back here to make sure the mailing order hasn't changed, then PM the next person in line for an address. Even if you've mailed something to that person before, please double-check their mailing info and make sure they're still interested and able to participate.

6. Use whatever shipping method works best for you; (feel free to use surface mail if you have the option); if you're able to use delivery confirmation/tracking that's always nice but I'm not going to require it.

Current order (subject to change):
*PLEASE* check before sending to the next person!

(done) mcsar - Canada
(done) megami-no-ushi - Canada
(done) iiwi - Netherlands

Vampberry - Finland <<< --- here
Billbooks - Australia
Edwardstreet - New Zealand
adrienne10 - USA

Journal Entry 8 by winghyphen8wing at Honolulu, Hawaii USA on Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Released 1 yr ago (9/16/2019 UTC) at Honolulu, Hawaii USA


Off to Canada: go, book go!

Journal Entry 9 by wingmcsarwing at Richmond, British Columbia Canada on Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Thank you for sending. The book is here in Canada now. I will start reading soon and get it back on the road.

Journal Entry 10 by wingmcsarwing at Richmond, British Columbia Canada on Friday, October 18, 2019
I signed up for the bookray because I thought the premise was interesting. I expected the book to be informative. I did not know it would be such a fascinating read. I was completely engrossed with the investigation and was fascinated to read about the epidemic, the people, the medicine, the sewer system, and everything else and how they compared to our modern world and beliefs.

Thank you so much for sharing this on a bookray. Once I receive the next reader's address, the book will travel again.

Journal Entry 11 by wingmcsarwing at Next Reader, Bookray -- Controlled Releases on Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Released 1 yr ago (11/19/2019 UTC) at Next Reader, Bookray -- Controlled Releases


Now that megami-no-ushi has responded, the book is finally travelling to her.

The book was returned to me and has now been resent.

Journal Entry 12 by megami-no-ushi at Calgary, Alberta Canada on Wednesday, December 18, 2019
The book arrived today - thank you!! I'm looking forward to reading it and am hoping to finish it before my brother arrives on Friday so he can read it too before I send it on.

Journal Entry 13 by megami-no-ushi at Calgary, Alberta Canada on Friday, February 07, 2020
I really enjoyed reading this book and learned a lot! I also had my brother read it over Christmas and he enjoyed it too! Thanks so much for sharing.
Seems weirdly fitting to be sending this on during a new epidemic, though luckily not one I'm living through this time!

Journal Entry 14 by megami-no-ushi at Bookring/Bookray, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- Canada on Sunday, February 09, 2020

Released 1 yr ago (2/10/2020 UTC) at Bookring/Bookray, -- By post or by hand/ in person -- Canada


This book is headed to the post office tomorrow to be sent off to Europe!

Interestingly, I was chatting with one of my bookcrossing friends about this book and turns out she had it on her shelf so another copy will go around the Calgary group!

To the finder:
Calgary has an active group of BookCrossers that meet to swap books and discuss book crossing every second Saturday of the month at 11am at Cravings Market on Fairmount Drive SE. We always love to meet new crossers, so please join us any time you like!

Journal Entry 15 by wingiiwiwing at Zeist, Utrecht Netherlands on Thursday, February 20, 2020
Received this last saturday and started immediately, so I forgot to journal it till now.

Journal Entry 16 by wingiiwiwing at Zeist, Utrecht Netherlands on Monday, March 23, 2020
The triumph of twentieth-century metropolitan life is, in a real sense, the triumph of one image over the other: the dark ritual of deadly epidemics replaced by the convivial exchanges of strangers from different backgrounds sharing ideas on the sidewalk.
It is strange to have read this book at this time, when, for the first time in 100 years, this triumph is challenged. When I started reading the world was still sharing ideas on the sidewalk, the virus seemed far away. Outbreaks had a ominous peamble, too. Newspapers would track the disease's progress through the harbours and trading towns of Europe, as it marched relentlessly across the continent. And so we did, track the corona virus, from China to Italy to the first people getting it in my country, the Netherlands. When I ended the world was in lockdown, not a pumphandle to be switched off.
I am impressed by the investigators in the book, who did not only come with the first solid theory of how cholera spread, but did this with a lot of inventive and for the days new techniques in statistics, investigations and mapmaking, from door to door interview investigations to the ghost map.
There were a lot of small sidesteps in the book I enjoyed and made me realize things I did not know, like the way the population growth of the 19th century and the drinking of tea coincided or a letter posted at nine a.m. would reliably find its way to its recipient across town by noon.

Journal Entry 17 by wingiiwiwing at Zeist, Utrecht Netherlands on Monday, March 23, 2020
I have no idea how international mail is effected and if it is wise to send a book at this time overseas, but I will pm the next reader to see what they think.

Journal Entry 18 by wingiiwiwing at Zeist, Utrecht Netherlands on Saturday, March 28, 2020
I sent the book to Finland yesterday.

Journal Entry 19 by Vampberry at Tornio, Lappi / Lappland Finland on Thursday, April 16, 2020
I got the book some time ago but promised the sender to keep it in quarantine for two weeks before opening just to be sure. I accidentally quarantined it a bit longer than that. I'll try to read it quicker so that the next reader won't have to wait too long.
I've had The Ghost Map on my wishlist for some time now and this is quite a suitable time to get it in my hands!

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