They had a terrible, uphill battle fighting for acknowledgment of their theory against the current notion of "miasma" which essentially meant that most Victorians believed in a sort of vapor and odor that transmitted disease and scoffed openly at the idea that cholera or anything else could be caught from drinking contaminated water. As I said; it is not a quick read. I can be rather technical at times and there were some long passages that honestly made me sleepy but I suggest that you give this book a chance anyway because the subject is fascinating and enlightening. There were times when I couldn't put it down, and I think if I had more of a background in science I would find it far more compelling. At the very least I think this book has a couple of merits no matter what your background; 1. it sings the praises of two heroes of history who by their dogged persistence saved London from future outbreaks of a deadly and deeply unpleasant disease, and; 2. On nights when sleep eludes but one is in fact tired; it will not fail in some of it's longer, more technical passages to lower one's eyelids slowly but surely.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
The Ghost Map (4)
Let me just say that this was not a fast read; I started reading it a long time ago and finally finished it this morning. "The Ghost Map" was written by Steven Johnson and is the story of a cholera outbreak in London in the late 1800s. It is also the story of two amazing men; John Snow and Henry Whitehead who painstakingly tracked down the source of the disease, basically uncovering the very idea of water-borne illness.