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Jennifer L. said:
On August 28, 1854 after cleaning up her sick infant’s diarrhea, working-class Londoner Sarah Lewis innocently tossed the bucket of soiled water into the cesspool of her squalid apartment building. When the deadlist outbreak of cholera in the city’s history subsequently broke out Dr. John Snow fought the miasmatists,who believed that foul air caused disease, to prove that the epidemic was being caused by contaminated water in one of the local public water pumps.
posted Mar 11, 2008 at 8:34PM
Avatar for KaliO KaliO said:
When cholera struck a London neighborhood in1854, it became the deadliest epidemic the city had ever seen. Victorian London has a reputation even today as an era of progress and wealth, and it was indeed a city on the verge of immense cultural and industrial growth. But science and medicine still had a long way to go—no one knew about germs or how contagions were spread or how to effectively treat many of the diseases that killed people every day. And the study of cholera was especially bogged down by old-fashioned beliefs. Doctors of the day were convinced that the disease was spread by foul odors in the air. London was indeed a stinky city, but the notion was way off base. When a single physician, Dr. John Snow, presented the theory that cholera was in fact spread by contaminated water, he was dismissed by the bureaucracy that was supposedly responsible for public health. But he was right, and The Ghost Map is the story of how he proved it and paved the way for much of the understanding about the spread of diseases that we take for granted today. Author Steven Johnson uses Snow’s experiences to shed light on the evolution of civilizations and the organization of cities, but his story is firmly centered on the real people who lived and died in the epidemic, including devoted minister Henry Whitehead who walked the streets of his Soho neighborhood to keep track of who, when, and where the disease struck. Cholera is a small threat these days, but The Ghost Map reminds us that the foundations of our sleek modern cities were laid down hundreds of years ago, and that the threats of the past are never too far from the present. An engrossing and lively book, The Ghost Map is certain to entertain—and educate.
posted Jul 26, 2009 at 7:28PM
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