The Ghost Map

KSBN is proud to announce the common book for 2014: The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson. The book is a historical account of the terrifying outbreak of cholera in the summer of 1854 in London and how a pair of interdisciplinary thinkers work to find a solution to the deadly problem

By the mid-nineteenth century, London had emerged as one of the first truly modern cities, but it severely lacked  necessary sanitation services, including garbage removal, clean water, and sewers. The city thus became a breeding ground for an outbreak of a rapidly-spreading disease, whose cause and cure were unknown to these Londoners.   

As the cholera outbreak spreads across the densely-populated city, it is up to Dr. John Snow and Reverend Henry Whitehead to use their knowledge of the disease and the city to map the pandemic, its cause, its widespread implications, and ultimately, how the interventions that stopped the devastating spread of the disease

The Ghost Map is a riveting historical illustration of the intertwined histories of cholera, cities, and modern scientific inquiry. Yet the ideas and lessons in The Ghost Map are not simply about the nineteenth-century but also our own contemporary "wicked problems" from urban sprawl to bio-terrorism and much more.


Request a review copy of The Ghost Map

If you are a faculty or staff member at the Manhattan or Salina campus and plan to incorporate the common book into a fall class, please contact us at with the following information:

  • Your name
  • Campus address
  • Course name and number
  • Few details about how you might use the book with students this fall





The Ghost Map Book cover

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