28 May 2017

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The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson.

This one has been on my to-read for a while. I'd of course heard about John Snow, and knew the story of the Broad Street pump, but the book came highly recommended and I hoped it would have further insights into epidemiology, a fave subject of mine. Unfortunately, not.

8/9ths of the book was pretty good and on-topic. The hagiography of cities and city dwellers at the end was less than awesome, especially in the parts were it was not related to epidemic and disease. That all felt like a moralistic finger wagging, barely redeemed by the subsequent commentary on potential terrorism in cities etc.

The first part of the book, the part dealing the actual cholera epidemic, was good. Less detailed in even the basic science than I'd hoped, but an engaging interesting read.

I had hoped that there would be more emphasis on epidemics and how they spread through human populations, but the author choose instead to spend a lot of time describing the miasma theory of disease.

Overall, the book was good, but lightweight. A good read on wikipedia and following some links on their sources would have given the same information, without some of the more annoying parts.

So a tepid "yeah, if you have nothing else" from me.

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