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#RCN100 Celebrating 100 years of the Royal College of Nursing

The ghost map: The story of London's most terrifying epidemic and how it changed science, cities and the modern world

Steven Johnson

The ghost map: The story of London

Pete Folly, Collection development information specialist, RCN library

Reason you chose this book

This is a book full of vivid writing and thought-provoking ideas that stretch way beyond the initial subject matter and make it much more than an intriguing slice of social history.


Steven Johnson tells the story of the 1854 London cholera epidemic and the two men who worked together to solve the puzzle of the spread of the disease. The book starts with a fascinating depiction of London's 'under-classes' - the 100,000 or so people who lived their lives scavenging through the city's waste. The body of the book reads like a medical detective story and the ideas eventually widen out into an examination of the development of epidemiology and the evolution of modern urbanisation. Well-researched and referenced, I'd recommend the book to anyone wishing to be entertained by vivid writing, or educated, or both.

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Page last updated - 03/08/2019