1854. Cholera breaks out near Broad Street in the Soho neighborhood of London and by the time the epidemic is over more than 600 people are dead. Johnson's Ghost Map takes a day by day accounting of the epidemic starting two days before its outbreak and ending less than two weeks later with its conclusion. Johnson's narrative follows the actions of John Snow (the doctor, not the Winterfell denizen) and Henry Whitehead, a priest, whose work changes the course of the epidemic and eventually the course of human history by doing something no scientist, doctor, or anyone else had ever done before during a cholera outbreak: tracing its origin point and stopping it in its tracks. One part mystery novel, one part sociological study (with Whitehead as accidental sociologist), one part medical treatise (provided by Dr. Snow's insights), and one part call to arms in the modern fight against cholera and for stronger international urban planning (in Johnson's eloquent asides) this book has something for everyone. Far from my normal fare, I devoured the story over the course of a weekend and still come back to it often.
A historical chronicle of Victorian London's worst cholera outbreak traces the day-by-day efforts of Dr. John Snow, who put his own life on the line in his efforts to prove his previously dismissed contagion theory about how the epidemic was spreading. Reprint.