The Ghost Map

The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson is a historical account of the terrifying outbreak of cholera in the summer of 1854 in London and how a pair of interdisciplinary thinkers worked 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, becoming a breeding ground for an outbreak of a rapidly-spreading disease.

As the cholera outbreak spreads, 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 and its cause, find its widespread implications and, ultimately, discover the intervention 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.

Author Talk

head shot of Steven Johnson, author of The Ghost Map"The Ghost Map: How One Doctor Changed The World By Listening To His Patients" by Steven Johnson

Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 7 pm in McCain Auditorium

Based on the acclaimed 2006 bestseller, The Ghost Map, this talk tells the thrilling story of how two unlikely allies turned London's most deadly cholera epidemic into a scientific breakthrough that transformed human civilization. A gripping medical mystery, the story has an important lesson for today's health care industry: the need for "experts" to learn from wisdom of local communities

The event is free, but tickets are required. Tickets are available staring September 3rd at the McCain Auditorium box office and the Manhattan Public Library. 

Ghostmapping: A Public Lecture Series

This lecture series draws upon the collective knowledge of the campus community to help everyone understand more the issues raised in Johnson’s book, "The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic -- and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World." All events are free and open to the public.

"The Blue Death: How The Cholera Epidemics Of The Nineteenth Century Shaped the History of the United States" by Dr. Charles Sanders

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 7 pm in Leadership Studies, McVay Family Town Hall

The waves of cholera that broke across the United States in 1832, 1839 and 1866 were so horrific that no segment of society was left unchanged. One by one previously-held conceptions of race, class, science, religion and government were destroyed when arrayed against this merciless killer, and when the dying finally ended Americans found themselves living in a nation that had been changed forever.

The Ghost Map Book cover


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