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The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson (NF)

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Posts: 1462
Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: I love history, but it's boring in school. Historical fiction brings it alive for me.
Preferred HF: Iron-Age Britain, Roman Britain, Medieval Britain
Location: New Orleans

The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson (NF)

Post by Rowan » Tue March 20th, 2012, 3:29 pm

I received this book as a gift for my birthday this year and at first was misled by the title of the book. Being a lover of the paranormal in addition to history, I thought it was a book of ghost tales. I couldn't have been far from the truth.

This book is about a one week period in London's long and colourful history. One week in September of 1854 when two men joined forces and whose work has impacted our lives even today. During this one week period, the Soho area of London was hit fast and hard by a cholera epidemic. It's the worst outbreak of cholera anywhere (based on the number of deaths per capita) and two men with very different backgrounds investigated what was going on and eventually proved that cholera was spread through water. Although it took several years after that for city officials to put plans into motion to truly change the sewer system in London, had it not been for the work of these two men, we wouldn't have our modern sewer treatment facilities we have today.

This is the first non-fiction book I've ever read and once I managed to get beyond the pretty graphic first chapter, in which the author explains in detail just what cholera does to your body, the book was a fascinating read.

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Post by annis » Tue March 20th, 2012, 4:59 pm

Clare Clark's novel The Great Stink is based around the building of London's new sewer system.

The cholera outbreak, and the subsequent planning and building of the sewer system is covered in an episode of the fascinating BBC documentary series Seven Wonders of the Industrial World

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Post by Amanda » Tue March 20th, 2012, 9:01 pm

I listened to the audiobook of this, and it was so very interesting! I love medical history! No surprise really...I am a pathology scientist.

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