03/21/07 10:52 PM
I picked up The Ghost Map for TG as a gift awhile back and she had read it and highly enjoyed it. After finishing a book on World War II, I decided that I needed something a bit lighter, so of course I turned to a book about cholera epidemics in England in the nineteenth century.
Okay, so it’s not exactly light reading, but nothing like millions upon millions of bodies being ploughed asunder, so I decided to check it out.
I hadn’t read anything by Steven Johnson before, but after zooming through The Ghost Map, that will probably have to change. As mentioned above, the focal point of the book is about the cholera epidemics that ravaged England in the 1800’s, but it goes off in so many directions (in well-written ways) that it feels like a real smorgasboard of information. Johnson not only talks about the triumphs of science over superstition, but population density and city planning, information design, sociology, and just plain history of the actual events as well. He weaves all of these things together in logical, and even entertaining ways, introducing the “heroes” of the story and following the arcs of their discoveries like a thriller in some ways.
Like most great books that I’ve read, information comes at you in digestible amounts and about a variety of different angles. It was only the second book I finished this year, but got me excited about reading more again.