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The Blue Death: The Intriguing Past and…

The Blue Death: The Intriguing Past and Present Danger of the Water You… (2007)

by Robert D. Morris

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873212,097 (4)1
Environmental epidemiologist Morris chronicles the at times frightening story of our drinking water. He recounts the epidemics that have shaken cities and nations, the scientists who reached into the invisible and emerged with controversial truths that would save millions of lives, and the economic and political forces that opposed these researchers in a ferocious war of ideas. In the gritty world of nineteenth-century England, a physician proved that cholera could be hidden in a drop of water. In the twentieth century, burgeoning cities subdued cholera and typhoid by building massive filtration plants, and bubbling poisonous chlorine gas through their drinking water. However, in the new millennium, waterborne disease is threatening to reemerge, and research has linked chlorine treatment with cancer and stillbirths. Morris dispels notions of fail-safe water systems, revealing some shocking truths: miles of leaking water mains, constantly evolving microorganisms, and the looming threat of bioterrorism.--From publisher description.… (more)

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I am one of those people who takes for granted the water I drink. At least I did until I read The Blue Death by Robert D. Morris. The first part of the book takes the reader through the height of cholera scourge in 19th century England. The contributions of scientists John Snow and Robert Koch toward the study of cholera are told as narrative even though their accounts are grounded in history. This gives the content an almost fictional feel. The 20th century brought advances in water purification ahead so far that as the deaths from waterborne viruses went exponentially down, public apathy regarding the dangers of unregulated water went up. This apathy contributed to the needless outbreaks of cryptosporidium and E coli in the late 20th century.

I thought the author did a good job of showing how well-meaning people can easily overlook details when it comes to testing the public water. A tainted water supply can pass along diseases so quickly that containing an outbreak seems impossible. I recommend this book for anyone curious about the realities of water. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | Oct 10, 2011 |
The writing was a bit melodramatic for me, but the book overall was interesting. ( )
  atiara | Dec 8, 2009 |
Great book! Really interesting and informative look at cholera and the resistance to acceptance of the idea of waterborne pathogens, among other things. ( )
  srice07 | Oct 17, 2007 |
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To Astrid, Hana, Darwin, Sage, and Skyler, for the joy you bring to life
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Drinking water.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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