Summary The Ghost Map was a historical piece of literature that was used to explain the V. cholera epidemic in London. The book, written by Steven Johnson, tells about how the water and the lack of proper sewage systems lead to a disease that killed many citizens and lead to panic for Londoners. Dr. John Snow, an anesthesiologist, began to research what played a role in the deaths and how it could be cured and stopped. He discovered that the disease was a waterborne disease after a series of interviews with London people in specific regions of London who managed to survive the plague.
Mr. Snow learned that the survivor where drinking water from specific wells before they got sick so he went and gathered water samples, “Cholera wasn’t something you inhaled. It was something you swallowed. ” (Page 72). With this evidence, Mr, Snow was able to build his case on why V. cholera was a waterborne disease and that if there was a way to sanitize the contaminated water at the source, the disease will lose its devastating grip on London, During this time, however, many of the scientist studying the disease believed it to be a miasma and was spreading because of the foul smells within the poor, cramped portion of London.
In the book, it says that “The popular fear cholera was amplified by the miasma theory of its transmission. “(Page 86). This made it hard for Mr. Snow to convince the other scientist that it was a waterborne disease and that an improvement to the water supply has to be done immediately. This was a major stopping point in Mr. Snow’s theory, but this made Mr. Snow work harder to prove the science community wrong. While this was going on, another man named Henry Whitehead was also conducting his own research on the matter.
Mr. Whitehead was observing eople with the bacteria and studied their living conditions to help determine if the air is the main cause to the V. cholera bacteria spreading in London. As the days went by and the number of deaths began to increase, the Board of Health in London began to improve people’s living conditions by creating the indoor restroom, This, however, caused more problems for the people of London, due to the lack of a proper sewage system, “London needed a citywide sewage system that could remove waste products from houses in a reliable and sanitary fashion,… The problem was one of jurisdiction, not execution,”(Page 117).
London didn’t have a place where the sewers could lead off to which keep the disease spreading when people used the restroom. After months of battling the type of disease London was faced with, Mr. Snow convinced the Board of Health to remove the water pump that was on Board Street. By getting rid of this pump, Mr. Snow helped stop major outbreaks from recurring, “The removal of the pump handle was a historical turning point, and not because it marked the end of London’s most explosive epidemic,… It marks a turning point in the battle between urban man and Vibrio cholerae, because for the first time a public institution had made an informed intervention into a cholera outbreak based on a scientifically sound theory of the disease. “(Page 162-163).
This marked the end of the London epidemic and how the world of science began to change. Review As I read this book, I found the book interesting because of the mystery aspect of the story. This surprised me because usual, historical pieces are not very interesting. Also, the mystery is a scientific mystery and are typically full of facts and not much of a plot.
However, the Scotland on Sunday review said that “The Ghost Map is a rattling scientific mystery: but in the hands of Steven Johnson it becomes something much richer. ” The opinion of the reviewer had a way of matching the overall tone of the book. Even though this book did have a lot of factual information, the story had a way of keeping me interested in the story. I also learned more about the epidemic that devastated London in the early 1850s. The information given about the epidemic was new to me and made me wonder about other epidemics that affected the world or other parts of the continent.
Seed said that “In early September 1854, cholera tore down London’s Broad Street, killing more than 10 percent of its inhabitants in less than two weeks… Johnson takes a fresh look at this famous story and makes a case for the ways in which it fundamentally changed not only science, but the world. ” The author does seem to display a neutral bias toward the subject. He didn’t show any form of favoritism towards anyone but was interested in only in displaying the facts and providing information about the London epidemic.
As I read the book, | felt bad for the people in London. I felt that due to the ignorance of the Board of Health with the time they took to try to fix the sewer and waste problem, they caused more deaths with the people of London. The author had a well-versed style of writing and a great flow to the story. I really like all of the information that he was able to provide within the book. I have an interest in how the world change and the main effects that have on the world and the people that it affects.
I like that the story kept things interesting by not having the book directly about the epidemic itself but tied in aspects of today’s world and about the conditions that many people faced during this time. I really hoped that the book would have dialogue from the key players in the story. Personally, I thought that this book was going to be a very dry read and that after reading it, I would just give up on the book. However, Steven Johnson had a captivating way of keeping the book wanting you to know how much did one bacterial plague cause to one country.
Steven Johnson also had a way of giving the key players that helped prevent and find a cure to the V. cholera bacteria. Financial Times said, “Johnson praises Snow for being a cross-disciplinary thinker whose ‘mind tripped happily from molecules to cells to brains to machines. ‘ That is also the beauty of this book. Johnson trips from describing London sewers to the way that bacteria to the history of urban development without breaking a sweat… Your brain will benefit. ”. I felt that Financial Time had an accurate view on what Johnson tried to reveal with Mr. Snow. Mr. Snow had a major contribution to solving the mystery surrounding the entire case.
While I was disappointed to learn that he did not live to see the fruits of his labor, I was pleased to know that his perseverance and his dedication to helping the people of i made it possible to stop an outbreak that was soon to destroy London. This is why I enjoyed the book “The Ghost Maps” by Steven Johnson, and would recommend people that want to learn more about experimental science and medicine or people that are interested in London’s history to read this book and gain a stronger understanding on what went on in the world and how it changed the future.