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The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus Mass Market Paperback – July 20, 1995

4.6 out of 5 stars 1,831 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The dramatic and chilling story of an Ebola virus outbreak in a surburban Washington, D.C. laboratory, with descriptions of frightening historical epidemics of rare and lethal viruses. More hair-raising than anything Hollywood could think of, because it's all true. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Preston's account of an outbreak of a strain of the Ebola virus among monkeys in a Virginia laboratory has spent more than 30 weeks on PW's bestseller list.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (July 20, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385479565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385479561
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,831 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Preston is the bestselling author of The Hot Zone, The Demon in the Freezer, and the novel The Cobra Event. A writer for The New Yorker since 1985, Preston is the only nondoctor to have received the Centers for Disease Control's Champion of Prevention Award. He also holds an award from the American Institute of Physics. Preston lives outside of New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book when it first came out in the 1990's. I'm writing this review now because, 1- the current (July 2014) outbreak of Ebola is "the deadliest in recorded history," and 2- I've NEVER forgotten the book. I can honestly say that in a way, it scarred me for life. The book terrified me. The thing that is so terrifying is the way the poor people who contract the disease die. It is just horrible. Once you start reading, you won't be able to put it down. But be warned, it is very disturbing.

I really cannot think of anything on Earth more important than preventing the spread of Ebola. Please don't disagree until you have at least read this book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In THE HOT ZONE, Richard Preston has woven epidemiological fact with the terrifying true story of how a strain of the Ebola virus came to the United States. He details various outbreaks of hemorrhagic fevers, traces them to their possible origins, and provides a basic education about viral evolution and forensics, all couched in narratives that will keep you turning page after page. After you have read his graphic descriptions of what happens to people who contract the deadlier strains of Ebola, you will understand fully just how dangerous the Reston, Virginia incident could have been.
With its crisp language and pacing, THE HOT ZONE reads like an expert thriller novel, making its reality that much more horrifying. Not for the faint-hearted, this book will likely alter the way you view viruses and epidemics.
I highly recommend this book for a general adult readership. (Teenagers under 16 may not be able to handle the highly disturbing descriptions Preston provides.) If you haven't read this book before, you should, especially now in this time of bioterrorism and global travel.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was an interesting account of a biological incident at a monkey house near Washington DC, along with plenty of background information about the Marburg and Ebola viruses. I didn't mind the redundancy about which others have complained; the repetition of some of the information about viral functions prompted retention, along with stirring the imagination as to the effects of a killer virus.
After reading the book, I performed some web searches an found several sites advertising hiking excursions to Mt. Elgon's Kitum Cave in Africa, which is believed to be he home of the Ebola/Marburg strains, though it's presently unknown which animal is the natural host. Let me tell you, if you are sufficiently insane to visit Kitum Cave after reading The Hot Zone, then you are living proof of Darwin In Action.
I liked the author's analogy about fatal viruses, such as Ebola and HIV, acting at the Earth's own antibodies, protecting the environment from encroachment by humans in places where the Earth doesn't want humans to be fiddling with things. Invasions of the deep rain forests and encounters with fatal biological agents therein are warnings for humans to stay away.
Have everyone in your family read The Hot Zone, so that next time someone gets sick you will have all sorts of terminology to throw around the dinner table -- extreme amplification, crash-and-bleed-out and other delightful descriptions about the effects of disease on humans. Enjoy.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Well, it all depends on what you are looking for. "The Hot Zone" was the first book I read on this subject and like many other readers I was intriged and facinated. But then I started to branch out and read more about the subject and I realized that this book cannot be taken at face value. If you want an accurate description of these viruses I would suggest "Virus Hunters of the CDC" by Joseph B. McCormick M.D. and Susan Fisher-Hoch or "Ebola" by William T. Close. These books are written by the people have actually worked with the viruses and the victims they attack. These two books are first hand expieriences...not second or third hand information. I would compare "The Hot Zone" to the TV show Hard Copy. It does get most of the story across, but it alters it to make it more marketable. My main gripe with it is that countless times Mr. Preston mentions "liquifiying" of bodily organs. This is completely inaccurate. It paints a good picture and had good shock value, but these virus don't need it. They are shocking enough on their own, they don't need to be embelished. Once again, a good story book (although how it's passed off as non-fiction I'll never know), but if you want acuracy I would suggest you look a little further.
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