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The Cobra Event Mass Market Paperback – August 29, 1998

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The Cobra Event + The Demon in the Freezer: A True Story + The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus
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Editorial Reviews Review

In New York City in the late '90s, a 17-year-old girl heads off to her private school even though she has a cold. By art class her nose is gushing mucus and she's severely disoriented. Within seconds, it seems, she's in convulsions and, most bizarrely, can't stop biting herself. All the reader can do is hope she'll die quickly, but Kate Moran's body still has a few more disgusting turns to undergo, and Richard Preston--a Jacobean master of ceremonies par excellence--takes us through them in bizarre and bloody detail.

Clearly, whatever Kate had was a head cold with a scientific vengeance. Preston's heroine, Alice Austen, a doctor with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, realizes--in the first of several gripping autopsy scenes--that the girl's nervous system had been virtually destroyed. So far, only one other person is known to have died in the same way, but he was a homeless man. Austen must connect the two cases, seemingly linked only by the subway, before the media gets hold of them and drums up a paranoia-fest--and before the virus's creator can kill again.

The Cobra Event is itself a paranoia-fest, a provocative thriller that makes you wonder exactly how much bioterrorism is taking place in the real world. Preston, best known for his terrifying chronicle of the Ebola virus, The Hot Zone, and other impeccably researched nonfictions, is not content to create fast-paced nightmarish scenes. His novel is instead a complex morality tale anchored in uncomfortable fact. Preston is keen to convey the "invisible history" of bioweapons engineering and, equally, to show the unsung heroism of his scientific detectives (along with that of the nurses and technicians who literally sacrifice their lives for medicine). Like their creator, these characters are not without a sense of humor. One calls the manmade virus "the ultimate head cold." Readers will never forget literally dozens of scenes and will never again see the subway, rodents, autopsy knives, and--above all--runny noses in the same light. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA?What happens when one crazed scientist takes it upon himself to develop and release a new biological weapon that will "thin out" the human race? A doctor working for the Centers for Disease Control first notices some strange evidence in a young girl's death. Soon other bodies are arriving at the morgue in similar condition. The police, the FBI, and national medical and science personnel become involved in trying to get to the bottom of the deadly disease that is attacking New York City. Though the details in this novel are fictional, they are based on the history of biological weapons and the advanced genetic engineering and biotechnology that is available today. Despite the use of potentially confusing technical terms, the story line is easy to follow and fast paced. Sections of the narrative that sideline into history and worldwide political events are not crucial to the plot and may be skipped over. Realistically rendered characters hold center stage. The symptoms described in this story are frightening, and often presented in morbidly graphic detail. Fans of the horror genre are bound to enjoy this one.?Anita Short, W. T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, VA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 29, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345409973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345409973
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (430 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #104,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on April 22, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Richard Preston's novel Cobra Event reads just like his nonfiction books on biological nasties, the Hot Zone and Demon in the Freezer--making it one of the most frightening things you will ever read, particularly if you've read either of those books as the similarities make the Cobra Event seem more like a nonfictional account than a novel.
The novel's story centers around a terrorist's creation and usage of "brain pox," a deadly disease derived from smallpox that infects victims' brains like encephalitis--combining the rapid and easy spread of the former with the deadly neurological effects of the latter in a horrifying biological weapon.
The characters and events laid out are so plausible that one must frequently remind oneself that the novel is indeed fictional, particularly in the historical and pseudo-historical accounts serving as background for the main story. Preston creates a believable team of investigators who must track down the terrorist behind the attacks--named by the FBI "the Cobra Event" due to their method of delivery. Although the motivations and character of the terrorist himself are somewhat flatter, overall the story could easily be featured not in a novel but on newspaper front pages.
Former President Clinton read the book and reportedly was both so fascinated and frightened that he began taking seriously the threats of biological terrorism not only from large, well-funded state labs like those of the former Soviet Union and North Koreans but also the lone, rogue terrorist, a very real threat considering the relative simplicity of creating terrible biological weapons as was demonstrated so recently by the anthrax attacks after 9/11.
Read this novel--it is a fast-paced page turner that will drive you to burn the midnight oil in finishing it--but one that will also leave you terrified as to the very real possibility of biological terrorism.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By H. J. Spivack VINE VOICE on April 13, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you've never read any of Richard Preston's other books about biology (The Hot Zone and Demon in the Freezer), you're in for a treat. The three books (Cobra which is fiction, Zone and Demon which aren't) comprise his black-biology trilogy and taken in total or in part, they're scary, fact filled and speak volumes about their topics. Don't think they sound boring. I bet you won't be able to put them down once

you start reading.

The Hot Zone, which was a NYT bestseller for practically ever, is about the emergence of Ebola in Africa. This is the story of the strains of Marburg that killed 210 people this week in Angola.

The other, Demon in the Freezer is a two step story about the amazing eradication of smallpox from Earth and the anthrax terror deliveries post-9/11. If you want to know the stories behind the story, this is a good place to go.

What stands out clearly in the Cobra Event is Preston's absolute authority on the topic of biological warfare. If his facts are true, and no one since had disputed a single one of them (including President Clinton who apparently, after reading Cobra Event, ordered a feasibility study), the Iraq clearly had WMD, biological agents, etc. Preston leaves no room for doubt. What's scary is who else had access. Simply everyone and there's lots of dangerous stuff missing out there.

Now to the story. For the first time, Preston has written a novel. The story certainly engages, although it is the facts that really scare you. I recommend it to any reader who likes facts behind their story.

The story is of a terrorist planning a live laydown of a viral brain pox strain in NYC and thereby killing millions. The book is about what happens.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 8, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
When I bought The Cobra Event, I didn't think I would enjoy it. I assumed it would join the ranks of many other unfinished books that I couldn't bring myself to attempt to read again. Within the first five minutes of reading this book, I was hooked. This book is thrilling and fast-paced. Preston describes every detail with intricate wording and accuracy while not overwording the less important elements. It also raises many questions about the medical profession and diseases throughout the world. The reader also learns while reading this entertaining book. Also, unlike some novels, I glossary of scientific terms can be found in the back of the book to ensure that the reader throughly understands the happenings in the book. The element of this book that makes it impossible to put down is the thrilling suspence throughout the entire book from the first page to the final sentences. I throughly enjoyed this book, and I would recommend it to any reader.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Richard Preston, in this sequel of sorts to The Hot Zone, has outdone himself. The Hot Zone, which dealt with the deadly disease Ebola, and how close we came to having Ebola strike the U.S. in the form of Ebola Reston (Reston, Virginia), was a near perfect mix of fact and fiction. Now, with The Cobra Event, dealing with biological warfare, Preston has outdone himself again. The book starts off with a death of mind-numbing brutality, caused by an unknown disease. Alice Austen, an epidemiologist from the Centers of Disease Control is sent to investigate. The implications of this new agent, a biological weapon, result in federal agencies scrambling to contain it, and the man (who calls himself Archimedes) spreading it. O.K., in all truth, the fiction of this novel is really a slightly predictable mystery thriller. But that, of course, isn't the draw of the novel. Preston has researched his material extensively, and the result is a highly-enjoyable, fascinating story. Preston complements his storyline with three sections entitled "Invisible History", which take a detour from the plot to explain the real life facts of the events taking place. These sections are well-written and informative. Also, to Preston's credit, he has resolved his problems in placing the climax in this novel. In The Hot Zone Preston climaxed in spectacular format and then let the book slide for entirely too long. In this novel, he climaxes and then ties up loose ends quickly and efficiently. One of Preston's best works, this receives a 9 out of 10 on the Dominion scale. If you liked The Hot Zone you'll love this book!
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