Steven Johnson's new book The Ghost Map takes as its subject an 1854 cholera epidemic in London. Turns out, the key to surviving such an outbreak may have been popping into the pub for a pint or two. Or thirty.
Ghost Map ... contains surprising historical nuggets: Did you know, for instance, that because citizens who drank alcohol rather than water were less likely to fall ill, "most of the world's population today is made up of descendants of those early beer drinkers, and we have largely inherited their tolerance for alcohol"? [Link]As of 2004, the Czechs were the most tolerant people on earth.