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Next Up for the FOL Book Discussion--The Ghost Map

Perhaps one of the most devastating aspects of the recent cholera outbreak in Haiti is that for well over a century, cholera is a disease that has been understood by scientists, a disease that can be managed, and a disease that can be cured. And yet, as of December 6, 2010, over 91,000 Haitians have been sickened and more than 2,000 people have died. When we selected The Ghost Map as our January 24, 2011 Friends of the Library Book Discussion read, we did not anticipate that this book, which traces the beginning of scientific knowledge about cholera in the wake of the 1854 London epidemic, would be so relevant.

Professors Rob and Janne Cannon will discuss the book with us at 7 pm on Monday, January 24 in the Hodges Reading Room. To learn more about the book and about how cholera spreads, please visit the book's website . The short video on the website provides a good introduction to this distressing subject.

Professor Janne Cannon also suggests the following websites for those interested in more information about John Snow, one of the book's major characters, and about cholera epidemics:

The Department of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health at UCLA has created a terrific web site devoted to “the life and times of Dr. John Snow.” It contains a great deal of information about Snow’s work and its significance for public health, epidemiology, and anesthesiology; there are also numerous links to articles and other resources about Snow: .

Another excellent web site is “Contagion: Historical Views of diseases and Epidemics,” from the Harvard Library Open Collections Program. This site contains information on a number of historical epidemics, including cholera epidemics in the 19th century:


  1. For physical and biological scientists, this account of John Snow, the first anesthesiologist, will reveal the use of the scientific method - problem, hypothesis, experimental process, data, analysis and conclusion. For fans of CSI, evidence is gathered, puzzling contradictory information is dispelled, and the case is finally proven. All readers will be saddened by the on-going disadvantages and discrimination on the poor and under class. The book leaves us with thoughts of 21st Century versions of 1850s London in modern cities around the world.


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