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Forum » Book Reviews By Students » The Ghost Map by S. Johnson » Three Stars
Three Stars
MercedesnguyenDate: Monday, 2013-06-10, 9:26 PM | Message # 1
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The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson is “Thestory of London’s most terrifying epidemic”. The novel is centered on the topic
of a cholera outbreak near Broad Street in Soho. Told in chronological order,
the book starts off with informing the reader about London’s way of life during
the 1800’s. During this time there was no proper waste disposal and clean water
access. People would throw all of their waste into local cesspools which contaminated
the water and led to the outbreak of the epidemic.

    The epidemic first started when aninfant became ill. One night she began vomiting and had a very bad case of diarrhea.
Her mother tossed the waste into the cesspool that lies in front of their
house. As the disease quickly spread across London, many people believed that
it was the disgusting stench that was killing the people. Most scientist and
physicians thought that cholera was actually due to the foul inner-city air and
that cholera was not from personal contact. Two men named Henry Whitehead and
Dr. John Snow came together to solve the cholera mystery. Dr. John Snow
believed that it was not the smell that was causing people to die but something
else. Through deep study and research Snow believed that cholera was a
waterborne scenario.    
    Dr. John Snow sketched out a mapmarking where all the deaths had occurred. He then learns that the density of
deaths is very high the closer you are to the pumps and decreases the farther
away you are from it. When the people finally start to listen to Snow things
start to change. The pump handle was removed and  waste disposal is looked after more
    This novel relates to many different topicsin Human Geography. The cholera affected the population of London. About ten
percent of the population was lost. During the outbreak many people tried to
escape it and moved away from the contaminated areas. The people made a huge
effort to keep the city sanitary. Better sewage systems were created and new
technology was created to clean water. The citizens then led much healthier
lives which allowed the city to prosper.     
    The Ghost Map was a very informingnovel about the history of cholera in London. Many lives were lost during this
time, but once the source was finally found a big effort was put in to cure it.
London has not had a cholera outbreak since 1854. Although and epidemic is not
always positive, because of the outbreak the people of London learned more and
now their environment has become more advanced.       
    This book's topic is very interesting itself but the way it was written was not to my liking. The book is quite boring. The book itself is like a book of facts and a story at the same time. It was very interesting on how the author decided to take the history of cholera and turn it into a story. The novel had a mixture of history and science. I wish that it was written in a much simpler and more exciting and mysterious kind of tone. There was a lot of tedious information and although the summary on the front of the book makes it seem very exciting and interesting, it's not really that good. The book wasn't all that bad though. You learn a lot about cholera and the life style of London. I think this would be a great book if you wanted to learn about the history of cholera in London. It's much more interesting than a history book but less interesting than something like a fiction novel. Out of five stars i would give this book a three.
Forum » Book Reviews By Students » The Ghost Map by S. Johnson » Three Stars
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