Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Ghost Map - Review by Sally906

Finished: 30/05/07 Review also found here
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 284
Rated: B
Cover: Hard Copy
Obtained from? Own it
Reason(s) for Reading: Wanted to

Opening Sentence "...It is August 1854, and London is a city of scavengers..."

At the end of the summer of 1854, the deadliest outbreak of cholera in London's history erupted. At the time, London was one of the biggest, most populated and relatively modern city in the world. What it didn't have was sewerage systems in place, or access to pure water sources. But that was OK - because every one in the scientific and religious world knew that the people who died of plagues and cholera caught it from bad odors (miasma) - and as London was virtually covered in poo - there was a lot of miasma around.

The book traces the history of the cholera virus, and it is fascinating. It then goes on to describe the investigations of Doctor John Snow and Reverend Henry Whitehead. Separately at first, then joining forces they set out to prove that the virus was not caused by breathing foul air - but by raw sewerage getting into the drinking water. Totally at odds with the scientific thoughts of the day. Unfortunately Snow never lived long enough to see his theory proved and accepted.

While the book is easy to read and fascinatingly informative - which is hard to find in the scientific Non-Fiction genre. However, I did find it to be very repetitive at times. Often, as I read a paragraph, I virtually rolled my eyes thinking " Hello you've told me this twice already - I get it!!"

He finished up comparing this event to the modern viruses around today, such as bird flu, and how it could potentially happen again. I was disappointed that this was put in at the end, almost as an afterthought - maybe if he had repeated himself less then he could have expanded more on this theory.

On the whole though - it was easy to read, informative and very interesting.

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