From the dynamic thinker routinely compared to Malcolm
Gladwell, E. 0. Wilson, and James Gleick, The Ghost Map is a riveting
page-turner with a real-life historical hero that brilliantly illuminates the
intertwined histories of the spread of viruses, rise of cities, and the nature
of scientific inquiry. These
are topics that have long obsessed Steven Johnson, and The Ghost Map is a
true triumph of the kind of multidisciplinary thinking for which he's become
famous -- a book that, like the work of Jared Diamond, presents both vivid
history and a powerful and provocative explanation of what it means for the
world we live in.
The Ghost Map takes place in the summer of 1854. A
devastating cholera outbreak seizes London just as it is emerging as a modern
city: more than 2 million people packed into a ten-mile circumference, a hub of
travel and commerce, teeming with people from all over the world, continually
pushing the limits of infrastructure that's outdated as soon as it's updated.
Dr. John Snow -- whose ideas about contagion had been dismissed by the
scientific community -- is spurred to intense action when the people in his
neighborhood begin dying. With enthralling suspense, Johnson chronicles Snow's
day-by-day efforts, as he risks his own life to prove how the epidemic is being
When he creates the map that traces the pattern of outbreak back to its
source, Dr. Snow didn't just solve the most pressing medical riddle of his time.
He ultimately established a precedent for the way modern city-dwellers, city
planners, physicians, and public officials think about the spread of disease and
the development of the modern urban environment.
The Ghost Map is an endlessly compelling and utterly gripping account
of that London summer of 1854, from the microbial level to the macrourban-theory
level -- including, most important, the human level.
Steven Johnson is the bestselling author of Everything
Bad Is Good For You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter;
Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life; Emergence: The
Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software; and Interface
Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate. He
currently writes the "Emerging Technology" column for Discover magazine,
is a contributing editor to Wired, writes for Slate and The New
York Times Magazine, and lectures widely. He lives in New York City with his
wife and their two sons. He can be reached on the Web at
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