Richard Preston is not a horror novelist, but this will be one of the scariest stories you've ever read. The cause of all this terror is from little beasts that are only microns in size, filoviruses. "Hot Zone" discusses four of these viruses, Marburg, Ebola Sudan, Ebola Zaire, Ebola Reston. I first came across Preston in his New Yorker article, "Crisis in the Hot Zone" which is basically the cliff notes to this book. It piqued my interest and eventually led to me reading this book.
Everyone knows that they should be afraid of Ebola. The Zaire strand only kills 90% of those it infects, in just a matter of day, in the worst way imaginable. Filoviruses are hemorrhagic viruses, causing those unfortunate enough to be infected to crash and bleed out. Preston goes into grisly detail about how these viruses work, and the symptoms that occur in humans. He traces the history of these viruses from their discovery. These are just set up for his main topic, the discovery of Ebola in Washington D.C. A monkey house in Reston Virginia is full of dying monkeys that apparently are infected with Ebola. Preston tracks down the mystery behind this domestic infection.
This book does bring up an all-important point; we are only an airplane ride away from the outbreak of a pandemic. It is very possible that a highly contagious disease may break out and cover the earth in a matter of days leaving a large portion of the population dead, making the premise behind Stephen King's novel "The Stand" not so far fetched after all. These filoviruses are very interesting, and Preston reveals them in such a way that you want to know more about them. The only hint I have to offer is, to avoid Intern's Disease, don't read this when you have a cold.