The Ghost Map (Pdf/E–pub) ç Steven Johnson
N why these diseases flourished in the first place and of how with current conditions in some third world country it will happen againuitman informative book at times too much information learned than I wanted to know about how waste was handled in the past The condition were nothing short of appalling Didn t care for the last chapter but did hold my attention for most of the book Cholera is a nasty little bug Once ingested it forms colonies on the intestinal wall begins to reproduce with ferocious speed and proceeds to trick the cells into xcreting water rather than absorb it It doesn t really matter of the host dies soon because millions of new li I read The Ghost Map The Story of London s Most Terrifying Epidemic and How It Changed Science Cities and the Modern World because I wanted to learn about a story I thought I knew The story I learned goes like this during a terrible cholera outbreak in Victorian London Dr John Snow made a revolutionary map of the mortality was like Holy crap The deaths all radiate out from this one pump and removed the pump handle thus halting the Galaxy Quest epidemic dead in its tracks Turns out there are about seven books worth of topics in here wrestlingach other for space with brawny arms Were all of them woven seamlessly together into one multifaceted but logically coherent narrative Well no actually and I found myself in a constant whiplash between fascination and frustration throughout the book Which left me with a lot to get off my chest so if you want to move right along to the next review before the unloading begins I totally understandThe Contenders1 What actually happened with Dr Snow the progress of the pidemic the map and the pump handle Fascinating Enthrallingly this turns out to be uite different than that story that was floating around my biology class The way the structure follows the daily disease progress the actions of Snow and the previously underemphasized role played by local clergyman Rev Henry Whitehead all this was just great If the whole book had been like this plus a few maps see 5 below I would have closed it a happy nerd indeed2The history of a classic scientific paradigm shift from the miasma bad air theory of cholera transmission to the waterborne theory championed by Snow EXTRA Fascinating Analysis of social forces working in science Why yes please This cholera pidemic struck before widespread acceptance of germ theory so most people thought that it and other diseases was caused by smelly miasma interacting with poor people s conveniently innate weakness and inferiority and stuff Several years before the Broad Street pidemic John Snow developed an alternate water borne theory of cholera transmission and vidence provided by this Le signe des quatre epidemic started tipping the scales in its favor Johnson covers the Kuhnian paradigm shift from miasma to water the circumstances that gave miasma such legs how in the grip of the miasma paradigm some folks designed a massive study of thispidemic that could only uncover Sloppy Firsts (Jessica Darling, evidence to support that paradigm and missed what was actually going on by like ten miles and you know we re totally doing this today but about what who changed their minds most peopleventually who didn t some diehard folks who didn t have ven a nodding acuaintance with falsifiability and why See a classic Did you know that Florence Nightingale was a committed miasmatist I didn t I wouldn t have minded a small acknowledgement that some diseases are truly airborne so the miasma crowd was not as off the deep nd as herein presented but that s a teeny uibble 3 Report on waste disposal in Victorian London with particular attention given to poop Fascinating Nuff said4 Our modern understanding of the life history and volution of the cholera bacterium Frustrating but maybe only to me Hostpathogen volution and interactions are like candy to me because I m weird like that so I was uite looking forward to this bit Well the book and I got off on the wrong foot when he started with all that anthropomorphic language to describe the Stargate Universe evolution of the cholera pathogen the bacteria were waiting patiently had strategies and desires He did say twice that of course they re not really hanging out and sentiently plotting our doom for which yay Michael Pollan in Botany of Desire please take note but then he kept right on using the misleading language Dude You re a nonfiction writer Taking complicated concepts and making them understandable is your job Why would you tell usvolution is crucial to the story tell us you re The High Crusade explaining it wrong then never actuallyxplain natural selection xactly right I didn t get that at all5 Snow s maps as visual displays of uantitative information EXTRA Frustrating The guy put Ghost Map before the colon for Lord s sake and dragged "Tufte in the least he could do is show us all the maps "in the least he could do is show us all the maps discusses The only Snow map in my book was not ven his revolutionary Voronoi diagram Plus I was dying to compare Snow s maps with the less useful Department of Sewers disease map that preceded them Yes you can find all the maps in the John Snow online archive but of the seven pages of maps in here why are they mostly copies of the same map seemingly included for decorative purposes Why Why 6 Treatise on historical urbanization and the mergent properties of city as organism Fascinating for about half #a page uickly mutating into frustrating thereafter Johnson has a clear parallel interest in these topics Good on #page uickly mutating into frustrating thereafter Johnson has a clear parallel interest in these topics Good on pidemiology and urbanization are intertwined in interesting ways However I feel like he could have dealt with it with a few swift paragraphs demonstrating the importance of urban conditions for disease Robin emergence and why the scale of John Snow s investigations mattered and moved on. Rbage removal clean water sewers necessary to support its rapidlyxpanding population the city has become the perfect breeding ground for a terrifying disease no one knows how to cure As the cholera outbreak takes hold a physician and a local curate are spurred to action and ultimately solve the most pressing medical riddle. Except for the feeling of nausea that accompanies the reading at times this is a very interesting book about the cholera Body and Soul (Alien Nation, epidemic in 1854 before thexistence of bacteriologyparasitology It is also the Eris Monroe More Than Human epic tale of John Snow who almost single handedly kept track of contamination pathways fought against the miasma theory and the biased and unscientific approach of his peers tried to locate and define the germ and still kept his hat on like a gentleman Amazing true storyspecially if you are interested in history of medicine John Snow is known as the father of Public Health and Germ theory in addition to his many contributions to medicine This book tells the true story of the London cholera Metropolis XXX epidemic in the 1850s and how Dr John Snow and Reverend Henry Whiteheadventually teamed up to solve the mystery of how the disease is transmitted At the time it was believed to be spread via miasma bad air and putrid smells Snow believed in the water born theory where vibrio cholerae bacteria is transmitted by drinking contaminated water Dr Snow mapped the progress of the disease tracing cas I Darwins Radio enjoyed most of the book but I hated the concluding chapter I would have preferred it if he had stuck to his subject rather than stringing together a series of personal opinions The discussion of the relative risks of a nuclear holocaust versus bio terrorism via a geneticallyngineered virus seemed forced Does it really matter The author somehow managed to work in references to both the Iranian nuclear policy and intelligent design in a book about cholera in the nineteenth century Was there an A Study in Scarlet (Sherlock Holmes, editor who knew i d find a nonfiction account of thepidemiological history of cholera interesting than most YA fantasythis book was disgusting it was also SO FUN well the first hundred or so pages were the funnest Lord of Darkness ever five star level for real then the next one hundred were likeeh and the last fifty were uhhh i think i m just going to skip this i m here for plagues and infectious disease not self indulgent waxing romantic on the future of the city as a conceptbut stilllot of uestion marks today huhven than usualthis is an impressive book and you should at the very least read the first hundred pages of this and then john snow s wikipedia page or somethingbottom line i guess i like historical nonfiction sometimes who knew This is an account of the 1854 cholera pidemic in London and of the work of John Snow who through his scientific investigations managed to stablish that cholera was waterborne and that the source of this outbreak was the Broad Street pump This was going against the scientific opinion of the time a miasmic theory which argued that air small and conditions were responsible The book covers a variety of areas history biography detective work The Hunt for Tokyo Rose epidemiology and scientific investigation Johnson uses a Victorian novelist s trick and takes a chapter to introduceach player The first chapter introduces the city of London and then the main players John Snow Rev Henry Whitehead Edwin Chadwick and William Farr The account of Snow s investigations is fascinating The descriptions of the conditions in London before the sewer system was built was pretty stomach churning I never realised that most basementscellars were used as cesspits Also the descriptions of the myriad citizens who in varying ways made a living out of the waste has its own fascination It s a great story and I knew a bit about Snow but I was less aware of the role of Whitehead He was working as a vicar in the area and knew and visited many of
those who died He did a good deal of the detective who died He did a good deal of the detective that supported Snow s thinking Snow of course was already known for his work on chloroform and anaesthesia and would have had a place in the history of medicine just for that Johnson s introduction to the book is a good summation This is a story with four protagonists a deadly bacterium a vast city and two gifted but very different men One dark week a hundred fifty years ago in the midst of great terror and human suffering their lives collided on London s Broad Street on the western Norwegian Wood edge of SohoThis book is an attempt to tell the story in a way that does justice to the multiple scales ofxistence that helped bring it about from the invisible kingdom of microscopic bacteria to the tragedy and courage and camaraderie of individual lives to the cultural realm of ideas and ideologies all the way up to the sprawling metropolis of London itself It s the story of a map that lies at the intersection of all those different vectors a map created to help make sense of an Lost Heritage (Harlequin Romance, experience that defied human understanding The book is somewhat repetitive at times and then there is thepilogue which leaves the subject of the book and is much speculative Johnson looks at increasing urbanization arguing we are becoming a city planet "and looking at what might put this at risk He focuses on various "looking at what might put this at risk He focuses on various of terrorism individual with weapons and xplosives portable nukes chemical and biological Here Johnson is in a reflective mode but it is very speculative and not really on the mark with too much painting terrorists as pantomime villains and not nough analysis Skip the last chapter 35 Had seen the PBS special on Snow and his discovery during the cholera Circle of Blue epidemic a few months back and this added detail to that show Interesting theories abounded the miasma theory which was a theory almost all favored How they did so much with so little Took hard work without all our modern scientificuipment Snow dedicated his life to the sciences what he accomplished was nothing short of astonishing Loved all the xtraneous information how tea helped with the lessening of certain diseases why the flow of the Chicago River was reversed and info From Steven Johnson the dynamic thinker routinely compared to James Gleick Dava Sobel and Malcolm Gladwell The Ghost Map is a riveting page turner about a real life historical hero Dr John Snow It's the summer of 1854 and London is just merging as one of the first modern cities in the world But lacking the infrastructure ga. .
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Already 7 Rampant speculation about impact of the Broad Street Greybeard epidemic on future urbanization patterns FRUSTRATING Now here s where Johnson takes that parallel interest deep into crazy train territory The book closes with a 25 pagepilogue of not too convincingly supported hand waving about suitcase bombs bioterrorism avian flu and urbanization that Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed (I.O. Evans Studies in the Philosophy Criticism of Literature 5) even now has myyebrows in a pucker over what the heck so much of it was doing in there If he really wanted to put an original stamp on the book which after 25 pages of this jive I m pretty convinced he did perhaps axing 99% of the The Manhattan Memoirs epilogue and generating some new maps would have been a far relevant way to go How awesome would it be to see maps showing deaths over time maps with different variables maps of Snow s data made using modernpidemiological techniues maps of other London cholera Ratatouille epidemicstc Very awesome indeed In conclusion maps make Tarkovsky everything better Thank you By turns thought provoking and irritating The Ghost Map meanders from its central story how an unorthodox physician found the source of a cholerapidemic that swept through London in 1854 into a host of other issues Expecting a straightforward account of the unraveling of this medical mystery I set this book aside twice in frustration bored with the author s tendency to stretch out the narrative and particularly his repeated Wizard World examination of the hold the miasma paradigm had upon medical minds in the mid nineteenth century He can t seem to get over the fact that all manner ofducated and otherwise reasonable people believed that disease was caused by noxious smells His lengthy discussion of the bureaucratic obstacles faced by John Snow the physician who linked cholera with contamination of drinking water with sewage begins to wear thin about half way through the book The Ghost Map certainly starts promisingly Barnum (Vocal Selections) enough with a description of Victorian London s hitherto unheralded recyclers the night soil men mudlarks rag gatherers bone pickers and others who made a living scavenging in London s streets rivers and sewers This is fascinating stuff who knew forxample that such a person as a pure finder dealer in dog shit or pure which was used by tanners xisted In this Dickensian world an astonishing diverse array of second or third class citizens ked out a living on the margins From an Powers of Darkness examination of this nether world Johnson then moves on to the slums of London doing a crack up job describing the cramped horrid living conditions He zeros in on one street and one family a harried mother is caring for a sick infant whoventually dies The child suffers from virulent diarrhea and is wasting away The mother washes the soiled diapers and tosses the dirty water in the cesspool just outside her door The cesspool in turn oozes into a local well The stage is set for the beginning of an pidemic Johnson is best when he describes this world with its reeking slums But he is inclined freuently to hare after philosophical uestions
NOT THE LEAST OF WHICH ISthe least of which is s inability to see beyond the dominant scientific paradigms of the time This bogs the narrative down While Johnson has many interesting ideas and speculations it s tiring to be taken on so many unresolved side journeys It s not uite so interesting for xample to read at length of John Snow s battles with pig headed authorities who are blind to the obvious link that Snow Bounty in Bondage establishes between one particular source of contaminated water and the cholerapidemic Nor was I particularly nthralled to read the minutia of Snow s statistical analysis he built for his case Johnson also seems inordinately fond of the idea of a map as a grand organizing theme one which he stretches out well past the 19th century in the final chapter Actually the final chapter leaves Snow s London altogether and is something of an ye opener Johnson discusses the role of cities in the modern world as well as the gravest threats that mankind faces today This chapter could well be a stand alone Dark Angel Sounding essay It made me think ultimately that this book would have made twoxcellent books one the tale of the cholera Babel 17 epidemic and the other of the social conseuences of the rise of cities As it is putting them into one book weaving between factual account and philosophical premise was over reaching a bit WARNING Do not read this review if you are sueamish OratingThis book is about cholera and as a result the author uses an impressive number of words for shit including On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington, excrement ordure human waste and the Victorianuphemism night soil And shit of course Johnson xplains that a key uestion in the development of civilization has always been What are we going to do with all this shit This book dramatically improved my vocabulary regarding topics related to 1850s London For instancemiasmatist someone who believes that bad smelling air rather than germs or bacteria cause disease Florence Nightingale was a miasmatistpure finder someone who finds dogshit and sells it to tanners to use in the leathermaking processstoshers trash pickersmudlarks children who scavenge junk that toshers don t wantscavenger classes pure finders toshers mudlarks and others in the recycling businessrice water stool don t askJohnson s previous books have been about how the mind works so Ghost Map is really about how people map information and adapt to innovations than it is a straightforward history of a particular "epidemic He writes that cholera is a supremely dark chapter in the "He writes that cholera is a supremely dark chapter in the of death and points out how wrong it is that people are still dying of this preventable treatable diseaseI learned that this is not a good audiobook to listen to when cooking dinner However it is a great audiobook to listen to when cleaning My kitchen and bathrooms have nev. Of their time In a triumph of multidisciplinary thinking Johnson illuminates the intertwined histories and inter connectedness of the spread of disease contagion theory the rise of cities and the nature of scientific inuiry offering both a riveting history and a powerful xplanation of how it has shaped the world we live in.