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The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus Paperback – June 15, 1999

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The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus + The Demon in the Freezer: A True Story + The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Hardcover edition (June 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385495226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385495226
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,527 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews 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

Far more infectious than AIDS, filoviruses (thread viruses) are relentless killer machines that consume a human body in days, causing a gruesome death. Symptoms include liquefying flesh, spurts of blood, black vomit and brain sludge. Outbreaks of the Ebola filovirus devasted Sudan and Zaire in 1976. And in 1989 Philippine monkeys in a Reston, Va., research lab, found to be infected with Ebola, were the target of a U.S. Army-led biohazard task force that decontaminated the lab, exterminating hundreds of monkeys to prevent the possible airborne spread of the disease to humans. In a horrifying and riveting report, portions of which appeared in the New Yorker , Preston ( American Steel ) exposes a real-life nightmare potentially as lethal as the fictive runaway germs in Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain. Preston plausibly argues that the emergence of AIDS, Ebola and other highly adaptable rain-forest viruses is a consequence of ecological ruin of the tropics. A movie based on this book, directed by Ridley Scott ( Alien ), will star Robert Redford. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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.

Customer Reviews

This book was well written and very informative.
It makes you wonder a little about how safe you really are, and I think this book is well worth the read just to open your mind.
Mark Fellows
The book was written like a fiction book, but is a true story.
vicki corby

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

219 of 229 people found the following review helpful By Russell Diederich VINE VOICE on March 24, 2003
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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76 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Illya Kuryakin on July 30, 2014
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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149 of 163 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Lee Wesselmann TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 10, 2003
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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75 of 88 people found the following review helpful By J. Reynolds on August 12, 2002
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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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 16, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While the story itself is fascinating, the opening of Preston's "The Hot Zone" is the best opening I've ever read, and I'm a writer myself, the author of four novels. His use of language hints at a writer with superior skills and with much to say. Some other reviewers fail to recognize that the book is not as much about the Ebola virus, but that the Planet Earth, tired of the prospect of five billion inhabitants, is trying to fight back and eliminate mankind. Aids, Ebola, they might be just the forerunners of an army of viruses with the goal of keeping the human population from exploding in ever-increasing numbers. Most of the books among today's bestsellers have nothing to say; but "The Hot Zone " is an exception. If nothing else, read the end, and memorize it if you can. I liked it so much that I've written it down and now I've included it here, I hope I won't get in trouble with the publisher for unauthorized duplication of copyrighted material.
The following is a direct quote from Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone"
"In a sense, the earth is mounting an immune response against the human species. It is beginning to react to the human parasite, the flooding infection of people, the dead spots of concrete all over the planet, the cancerous rot-outs in Europe, Japan, and the United States, thick with replicating primates, the colonies enlarging and spreading and threatening to shock the biosphere with mass extinction. Perhaps the biosphere does not "like" the idea of five billion humans.
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