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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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"One of the most horrifying things I've ever read. What a remarkable piece of work."
"Popular science writing at its best and the year's most infectious page-turner."
"A top-drawer horror story...the best literary roller coaster of the fall."
From the Inside Flap
A highly infectious, deadly virus from the central African rain forest suddenly appears in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There is no cure. In a few days 90 percent of its victims are dead. A secret military SWAT team of soldiers and scientists is mobilized to stop the outbreak of this exotic "hot" virus. "The Hot Zone tells this dramatic story, giving a hair-raising account of the
appearance of rare and lethal viruses and their "crashes" into the human race. Shocking, frightening, and impossible to ignore, "The Hot Zone proves that truth really is scarier than fiction.
"From the Paperback edition.
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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.
One cannot help but to realize how at risk we humans are that a virus hidden deep in the jungles of Africa could hop-scotch around the world in a day, traveling incognito inside its naive host. Ebola is even now on the Tarmac at an African airport, waiting in silence, undetected. We skim the headlines on the internet and give it a mental shrug, Sudan, it's a long ways away but this is happening, right now!
Oh, the FIFTH-STAR is for Amazon's WhisperSynch (audio enhanced Kindle books). Love it, makes reading and listening to audiobook into one; no time lost while driving, pick up reading back at home. Just open the iPad Kindle app and it knows automatically where it left off on the iPhone, driving in from Lubbock. Sorry, the Kindle reader still doesn't do it for me and neither does the PaperWhite connect with WhisperSynch. Hillbilly
The Hot Zone was published in 1994 by the book's author, Richard Preston. Richard Preston is a scientifically-minded man who earned his Ph. D. in English from Princeton University and has written many books on scientific topics including diseases and virology. Preston has written over six books and several newspaper articles, one of which, “Crisis in the Hot Zone” was published in 1992 by The New Yorker and was the basis of the inspiration for The Hot Zone.
Despite the author's enthusiasm for science and virology, his educational background in English makes this book more enjoyable through story and description than it is enjoyable due to science as Preston's science is shaky at best, even to a student such as myself, and even to some more qualified reviewers who agree that much of Preston's scientific descriptions of Ebola were at best exaggerated. Preston's usage of descriptive adjectives such as “liquefy”, “bleeding out”, and “cell wall” – the latter when describing a human cell, when it should only be used in plant cells – are far more enhancing to the story because of the way they portray a vision and not because of scientific accuracy.
Although the science can be somewhat shaky, the book itself is very entertaining and I recommend it to those who are avid readers and enjoy horror novels, science fiction, and books about plagues or epidemics. And though the plot and characters can be one-dimensional at times, the book is very well organized! Preston divides the book into four major sections: The Shadow of Mount Elgon (Part 1), The Monkey House (Part 2), Smashdown (Part 3), and Kitum Cave (Part 4), then proceeds to have both a list and description of main characters as well as a glossary for complete clarification and cross-referencing. Due to the way the book is organized, as well as a very unique and meta introduction to the reader to put them in a suitable frame of mind for reading the book.
There are many intensely graphic and potentially disturbing passages which depict medical and viral scenarios, therefore reader discretion is advised. However if you have the stomach and the interest in the topic such as I did, then you have a very good chance of enjoying this book which describes a real-life situation which occurred that was barely noticed by the “outside world” but was the closest we have ever – at the time of the book being published – been as a species to seeing a full-scale Ebola outbreak world-wide. Our species simply never knew the entire story until the writing of this book.
Besides describing the crisis outside Washington D.C., at Fort Detrick, Maryland which almost caused an Ebola outbreak of epidemic proportions, Preston also traces the origins of Ebola as well as other similar thread-shaped viruses such as Marburg from their apparent beginnings to how they are transferred among species and across species. Though the book is written in the style of Michael Crichton with a hint of Stephen King, there are more scientific aspects to this book including some fascinating up close microscopic photographs of various viruses including several strains of Ebola.
In conclusion, although this book can at times seem to focus more on the “horror and thriller” aspect of things and over-exaggerate certain points, the science behind the book is sound - however sometimes severely outdated, and is a great basis for learning about the Ebola virus and other filoviruses and deadly pathogens. If you are looking to read a true story of horror that includes scientific fact as well as historically accurate situations, I highly recommend you read this book!