Paged: The Ghost Map

...to live in such a world was to live with the shadow of death hovering over your shoulder at every moment. To live was to be not dead yet.
— Steven Johnson, The Ghost Map

It took me several years to finish reading this book. I boxed it up for at least three moves and it always ended up back on my nightstand. I think it had more to do with the subject matter as Johnson's description of the cholera epidemic that spread through 1854 London had me holding my breath just in case his words tricked my sense of smell.

Yet, although the first half of the book is filled with the stench of squalor and death, Johnson's writing is clearly beautiful. I highlighted words for their tone, more than as points I wanted to recall:

...the Broad Street water insinuated itself into a complex web of local drinking habits.

This would be a classic case of correlation being mistaken for causation...

A few days ago I started reading it again and took a flying leap, off the streets and looking at London by map view. The Ghost Map is everything it proclaimed on its cover:

The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic - and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World

It has me thinking about our modern world and the diseases and issues that could be solved through the free-flow of ideas. Lucky for me, while I was taking my sweet time Steven Johnson wrote Where Good Ideas Come From. It smells sweet.