The Ghost Map

The Ghost Map : A Street, an Epidemic and the Two Men Who Battled to Save Victorian London

3.9 (28,121 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Hardback
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At 6am on 28 August 1854, the city of London struggled to sleep at the end of an oppressively hot summer. But at 40 Broad Street, Soho, Sarah Lewis was awake tending to her feverish baby girl. As she threw a used bucket of water into the cesspool at the front of her lodgings, it marked the start of a cholera epidemic that would consume 50,000 lives in England and Wales - and become a battle between man and microbe unlike any other. Steven Johnson takes us day by day through what happened and re-creates a London full of dust heaps, furnaces and slaughterhouses; where a ghost class of bone-pickers, rag gatherers, dredger men and mud-larks scavenged off waste; where families were crammed into tiny rooms and cartloads of bodies wheeled down the streets. And at the heart of the story is Doctor John Snow: vegetarian, teetotaller, anaesthesiologist and Soho resident, whose use of maps to prove that cholera was spread by water - and not borne on the air as most believed - would bring him into conflict with the entire medical establishment, but ultimately defeat his era's greatest killer.
Steven Johnson interweaves this extraordinary story with a wealth of ideas about how cities work, ecosystems thrive and cultures connect. He argues that, with half the planet's population set to be urban, today's megacities could soon be wrestling with the same problems as John Snow and that, just as in 1854, science could be our salvation.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 148 x 216 x 30mm | 530g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Illustrations, maps, ports.
  • 0713999748
  • 9780713999747
  • 1,600,394

About Steven Johnson

Steven Johnson is the author of the acclaimed books Everything Bad is Good for You (described as 'a must read' by Mark Thompson, head of the BBC), Mind Wide Open, Emergence and Interface Culture. His writing has appeared in the Guardian, New Yorker, Nation and Harper's, as well as the op-ed pages of The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He writes the monthly 'emerging technology' column for Discover magazine, and is a Contributing Editor to Wired. The co-founder of the award-winning websites FEED and, Johnson teaches at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program, and has degrees in Semiotics and English Literature from Brown and Columbia universities. He lives in New York City with his wife and two sons.Steven Johnson hosts a web log at
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Rating details

28,121 ratings
3.9 out of 5 stars
5 31% (8,600)
4 39% (11,032)
3 23% (6,396)
2 5% (1,524)
1 2% (569)
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