The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson

The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson (unabridged audiobook read by Alan Sklar; 8.5 hrs on 7 discs): In 1854, London suffered a terrible cholera epidemic in the area around Broad Street. This is the story of its investigation, primarily by anesthetist Dr. John Snow and local curate Rev. Henry Whitehead. This took place before the germ theory of disease had really caught on, with many believing in the miasma theory – that is, that disease was caused by bad air. Snow’s assertion that cholera is a waterborne pathogen was met with heavy resistance. In addition, Snow’s map of cholera deaths was groundbreaking in the fields of information design and epidemiology. There were definitely parts of this book you don’t want to read while eating – cholera is a nasty disease and sewers aren’t exactly the most appetizing of subjects – but all in all it’s a fascinating discussion of the event and subsequent study. Books like this are my favorite mode of learning.

A note on the audio: At first I was a little concerned about an American narrator reading a book about an event that happened in England, but Sklar was great.

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