Disease Maps: Epidemics on the Ground by Tom Koch - review by James Le Fanu

James Le Fanu

The Topography of Infection

Disease Maps: Epidemics on the Ground


University of Chicago Press 368pp £29 order from our bookshop

By themselves solitary statistics may be dreary things but when aggregated together they can reveal, with unarguable precision, phenomena or patterns of events that would otherwise be concealed from view. Tom Koch’s Disease Maps examines the particularly persuasive instance of the value of the statistical method when used to condense a mass of data into a single arresting ‘portrait’ of a disease.

Thus a sequence of maps depicting the rising number of cases of the AIDS epidemic in the United States throughout the 1980s captures its deadly toll and massive concentration in metropolitan New York on the east coast and San Francisco on the west. More recently, in 2009, when

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