85 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2014
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.
222 of 233 people found the following review helpful
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.
152 of 166 people found the following review helpful
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.
76 of 89 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2002
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.
45 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 1998
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. Or it could also be said that the extreme amplification of the human race, which has occurred only in the past hundred years or so, has suddenly produced a very large quantity of meat, which is sitting everywhere in the biosphere and may not be able to defend itself against a life form that might want to consume it. Nature has interesting ways of balancing itself. The rain forest has its own defenses. The earth's immune system, so to speak, has recognized the! presence of the human species and is starting to kick in. The earth is attempting to rid itself of an infection by the human parasite. Perhaps AIDS is the first step in a natural process of clearance." End of quote
58 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2000
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.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2014
Ebola Virus' history and lots of information about how a virus gets its name (location of victim) and who get's to name the strain (researcher who isolates it) and how transmission pathways are determined and when Ebola first "jumped" across a room from infected to "clean" monkeys in a lab because it had aerosolized due to pressure-washing (sound familiar Dallas?). It tells how all fluids of ebola patients (including monkeys), rooms, toilets, floors drains, even the water from the sewer pipes from the sinks and showers the researchers have washed their hands with and shower off their suits with is BOILED then CHEMICALLY TREATED then ISOLATED and then something else...and I think of how many times that Dallas patient threw up into his residential sinks and toilets thus the municipal water system in Dallas. Then the cleaning crew power washes his bloody vomit from the sidewalk into the storm drain! Viruses seek out living hosts...many, if not most hosts they will not even kill...so who knows where those sewer viruses are now...oh, yeah, there are like a billion aggressive ebola seeking hosts in a drop the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Book describes military vets and how well trained they are to handle research into ebola. It's just a great book. Reads like a novel and not technical, but very accurate. Never dull! Covers the bat cave in Africa where ebola may have started. Great book for lay person to understand. Only half finished. Had to stop and write the review because of all the ebola in the news now. WHO has an ebola map that is interactive...very scary.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 8, 2014
Read this very intriguing book back in the 90s.
Of course back then Ebola might as well have been just fiction because it was just not "real" to those of us living in more advanced countries. This was only something that was supposed to happen in the deep jungles...
A lot has changed since then and I've just re-read this book.
Absolutely terrifying what could happen (and may already be happening) if a widespread epidemic results.
I for one am not quite confident about what the CDC and other Government agencies are telling us
My gut tells me there is no such thing as an "overreaction" on this Ebola virus.
Lets take this thing seriously and keep it isolated...meaning keep it the HELL out of the U.S. no matter what!
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2003
Have you ever pondered the many kinds of microscopic particles that live on this earth? I do even more now that I've read Richard Preston's true story, The Hot Zone. This book takes an extremely graphic dive into the facts within the first three pages. It all begins in Kitum cave deep in the heart of Kenya's wild jungles, where a deadly, unknown virus thrives. Scientific testing on monkeys then brings it to America, relating it to the fast killing Ebola virus, scaring the daylights out of our military. Their suspicions grow even more when they see the flesh eating symptoms of blood coming out of every orifice of the victims bodies. Many individuals get involved throughout this book, revealing their personalities and fears.
This exciting scientific thriller will keep you on edge for the whole read. With The Hot Zone being a true story, Richard Preston puts you in the level 4 biohazard zone easily, sharing the emotions of someone about to enter.
This book is definitely for you if you thrive on the life threatening facts of Ebola, Marburg, and other deadly viruses. With the first electron microscopy photographs ever taken of the virus alone, you won't be able to put it down!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2014
Buy it!! Read it!! Learn from it!! Author meticulously research Ebola and paints a truly realistic picture. I learned a lot about the virus. And surprisingly it ALL translates to todays headlines!! After reading this book, im able to read between the headlines of what is being said and more importantly, what's NOT being said. It gives info on medical treatments that were used. Supportive care. Signs and symptoms of the disease and particularly, mode of transmission. Medical researchers working with the virus give share their information. Very good information. Very timely information. PS: don't read at bedtime. Guaranteed to keep you up!!