I first learned about the 1854 Broad Street cholera epidemic when I listened to Documents that Changed the World podcasts: John Snow’s Cholera Map, 1854. This podcast was narrated by my friend and former colleague Andy
. I believe that this podcast, as well as others in this series
are available on iTunes. I read Ghost Map upon Andy's suggestion.
Normally, I don't go in for books about nasty illnesses that wind up wiping out huge numbers of people. I especially don't go in for stories like that if they tell of the sorts of things that you don't want to read or hear about if you're eating. But Ghost Map is a fascinating book about this epidemic--it reads like a detective story, and the author
does a fantastic of job capturing the panic and horror of this Broad Street epidemic. He also does a great job of showing us how Dr. John Snow kept his head, stuck to science, and exercised tenacity in finding how this disease was spreading. The author's discussion of what the urbanization of our world means in terms of health and sanitation was also interesting, although I did much prefer the author's presentation of history.
All in all, this is a good book sure to make one appreciate public works and our modern sanitation infrastructure. It's also sure to make one appreciate the need to continue to invest in and fund research and public health infrastructure. Just a great book for seeing how urban life of the past dovetails with urban life of the present and future.