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The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

Non-fiction that reads like a sci-fi story

This book was recommended to me after I had commented about non-fiction books that weren't dry and dull. I picked the book up and read it straight through. Parts of the book actually creeped me out thinking about what is actually out there around us and how fragile hu...
This book was recommended to me after I had commented about non-fiction books that weren't dry and dull. I picked the book up and read it straight through. Parts of the book actually creeped me out thinking about what is actually out there around us and how fragile human life really is. Unlike some books this title reels you within the first 10 pages. I would recommend this book to anyone who needs information on the Ebola virus or just wants a, 'different read'.

posted by lost_in_a_book on May 7, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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posted by 18649186 on October 29, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 14, 2012

    Highly recommended

    I read this book when it first came out. I just bought it again because I loved it sooo muchand wanted it as a ebook. It scares me that it is a true story. I think it is a MUST READ for everyone.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2013

    The amazing writing makes this book worth reading. I never woul

    The amazing writing makes this book worth reading. I never would have bought the book because I had no interest in horrible diseases. I started reading this book on an airplane only because another airline customer had left it behind. I could not put it down.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2012

    Scary non-fiction read

    This non-fiction book, about the outbreak of the Ebola virus, is terrifying on a visceral level. To learn about the details of how the virus works, and how close we have come to a epidemic, is chilling. Preston writes in a very journalistic fashion, which is factual and clear, but can be a bit repetitive at times. Overall, a great read that will keep you up at night!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2011

    I really recommend this novel

    I would recommend the novel, The Hot Zone, because it shows how easily an unknown virus could harm the human race. The Hot Zone also makes one realize the fragility of humanity
    I chose to read and do the assignment on a novel because I love to read anything I can get my hands on and I enjoy writing. I chose this book particularly because I find learning about viruses, the food chain and the science of biology interesting. It is fascinating to learn that humans are still prey to some organisms and humans are not the most dangerous species to other life on Earth. I learned a great deal from this novel about Bio-safety containment. For example the fact that hot agents are kept in negative air pressure so if there is a breach in security they will go into the other zones instead of the outside world. (Page 57) and I also learned how viruses manifest in organisms. There are only two negative aspects about this novel: the first is that it needs to be read in a short period of time or you risk forgetting characters and their relationship to the virus and other characters. "Her immediate superior was Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Johnson (he is not related to Gene Johnson, the civilian who was the head of the Ebola project." (Page 65). The second negative component is the author's detailed description about what the virus will do to the victim's body. "The muscles of his face droop. The connective tissue in his face is dissolving, and his face appears to hang from the underlying bone, as if the face is detaching itself from the skull."(Page 17).
    The Hot Zone it is a great reading experience and assisted me in understanding viruses. It also makes me ponder what other virus are out there undiscovered waiting to make the leap into infecting the human race.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A good and scary read for all ages

    I liked this book the most because It is true. If it weren't for that than it would not be nearly as good.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 16, 2014

    In 2014 with Ebola once again un the news, I found this book fas

    In 2014 with Ebola once again un the news, I found this book fascinating.  Filled with informative details about viruses, animals and human biology and nature, this book is anything but dry.  It is written as a great story that kept me riveted page after page.  Anyone who wants to learn about modern day virus outbreaks and how the government and news media  might handle such events would like this book.  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2014

    Good book on a current topic Good book

    I read this years ago and found it fascinating and frightening. The current Ebola epidemic in Africa makes this a timely read. Highly recommend!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2013

    The story was very exciting and interesting at the beginning but

    The story was very exciting and interesting at the beginning but it didn't keep my attention on every page like
    I would have liked it to. As for the character,s there were many of them and the book wasn’t focused on any
    certain one so it was hard to follow. I did find myself waiting to see what they would do and how they would
    deal with Ebola, though; if they would continue research with a family at home that needed them, what one
    of the characters was going to do when her father was dying, if anyone was going to get infected, and so on.
    The story took place in many different towns, even different countries. At first, the story took place in Kitum Cave
    and then it moved to places like Sudan. The viruses took over hospitals and houses, so it took place there, too.
    It took place on airplanes and in buildings. Wherever the Ebola virus could have traveled, the story took place.
    In the middle, it took place in Reston, Virginia in a monkey house. It ended touching on Kitum Cave and the
    monkey house in Reston again. It was terrifying to read about how the viruses affected the body. At one point,
    I had a stomach ache from envisioning the details. Considering it's nonfiction, it's definitely believable.

    The science content presented is definitely accurate. I don’t think it kept my attention very well, constantly
    discussing the facts and details and using big words, but in the end it made me realize that those things
    actually kept me understanding how real it was. While I was reading the book, I started looking up things
    about Ebola because I wanted to learn more. It’s a very scary virus. 

    I would give the story a four out of five stars and recommend it to people who are interested in viruses and
    epidemiology. I wouldn't recommend it to people who lose interest easily because there were some points
    where it got extremely boring. Teenagers and up is an appropriate age range along with both males and
    females. People who are interested in science would definitely enjoy the book.  

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2012

    The book The Hot Zone, by Richard Preston, is a riveting nonfict

    The book The Hot Zone, by Richard Preston, is a riveting nonfiction thriller. It captures the reader’s attention during the first chapter, and keeps it through the last page. Preston gives a terrifying and detailed description of the effects of the filovirus Ebola, which is a level four “hot agent,” which means that it is lethal, highly contagious, and potentially airborne.
    Once you begin reading this book, you won’t be able to put it down. You are wondering nonstop who has contracted the virus, and whether or not it will spread.
    Although the virus originated in Africa, it shows up in the Reston Monkey House, just outside of Washington DC. To prevent a massive outbreak of the horrific virus in the human population, the United States army gets involved.
    Preston introduces you to many of the characters, making you care about them, and then puts them in a position where they could potentially contract Ebola. This makes the book even more exhilarating.
    Although this is a nonfiction read, it has just as much action and excitement as any science fiction novel. This makes it the perfect book to read for science courses, because it is educational as well as interesting. Although I personally read this book for school, I would highly recommend it to anyone who wanted to read it for leisure as well.
    The fact that this is a true story makes is even more shocking and frightening. It makes readers realize just how fragile life is. A virus so small that it cannot be seen with the naked eye has the capability to kill ninety percent of the people who come in contact with it. The Hot Zone has made me appreciate the value of true stories. I never used to enjoy nonfiction, but now I know that there are nonfiction books out there that are thought-provoking and fun to read.
    I for one will be looking for another book by Richard Preston. He definitely knows how to capture a reader’s attention.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2012

    Disgusting yet amazing

    I felt like puking, in fact i did. Good book CONTENT VERY VERY GRAPHIC

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 18, 2014

    This non-fiction book, reads a lot like a fiction read. I don't

    This non-fiction book, reads a lot like a fiction read. I don't typically like non-fictions, but I had to read this as part of my Microbiology class. I wrote a 14 page essay on it, and I very much enjoyed the book. I highly recommend The Hot Zone! 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2014

    Very real and scary! Could happen at any time.

    Couldn't put it down. It's so amazing in out ability to ward of any disease from a bug that's unknown to our bodies but picked up from some far away place/culture. I get the feeling the book of Revelations in the Bible - this type of pandemic will be the "fire" that destroys the earth. Or one of the pestilences that will come in the days leading up to it. (Aids is the 1st).

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  • Posted February 17, 2010

    A frightening true story

    I am currently reading The Hot Zone and so far, I've found it absolutely frightening, more-so because it's a true story. The detail that the author goes into is incredible and it's obvious that he's done his research well. The story itself is incredible, but I find the writing to be downright annoying at times. The author isn't the best writer ever and has a tendency to repeat the same word over and over throughout a single paragraph. This, however, doesn't detract from the story much. It is definitely a must-have book.

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  • Posted February 7, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Micro life forms that kill humans, and it's non-fiction.

    The Hot Zone is a very well writtin book about deadly viruses and cases of the humans that get infected with them. This book mainly describes the Ebola virus, which is the most deadly of them all, and its sister virus, Marburg. And all sorts of different senarios in wich people from all corners of the world somehow get infected with this deadly virus and their enevidable journy towards death where they "crash out". The author also talks about the life of being a scientist in the military who spend their whole life studing or chacing down where these viruses came from. And about labs where truck loads of infected monkeys are carrying the disease into america and how the virus almost sneeks its way into Washington D.C.
    A major theme in the book is how delicate human life is and how violent, brutal, and unforgiving nature can really be. What i liked alot about this book was how it was writtin. Richard Preston has a characteristic in his wtriting and it shows throughout this book. Also what i loved about this book is the imagry, even though it is rather crude, the truth is is that it is all natural and true, and VERY graphic. When reading this book, my eyes widened, my jaw droped, and my spine tingled. The only thing i disliked was the amount of characters the author kept referring to, it was just a little confusing at times because it was difficult to remember all of the people, but all of the people didn't really matter too much for the plot's sake.
    If someone is looking for something "different", expecially for a non-fiction, they should read this book. Its one of those books that once you start reading, you wont stop, its a great book to get lost in.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2009

    Scientifically Interesting

    I only began reading this because my daughter needed it as reference for a project in science. We were heading on vacation and thought it sounded interesting - about deadly viruses. The author intrigues you with his first hand experiences, stories, interviews, etc. I read this book within a month, which for me is good. I am not an avid reader but I know when a book is good if I can't wait to get back to reading it. This was one of those books - leaves you thinking about what is coming next.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2007

    A reviewer

    The Hot Zone is an excellent novel that is entertaining, exciting, and educational all at the same time. The book discusses various diseases, focusing on Ebola, that are ¿hot agents¿, or extremely lethal. These diseases are the most deadly and frightening of all other viruses. The book teaches about these diseases through exciting scenarios that allow the reader to understand the true impact of the disease. The characters in the book are fascinating, and very interesting to read about. Overall, the author does a great job of tying together an interesting story filled with awesome information that deeply educates about the diseases and other scientific aspects in the book. The Hot Zone was different than any other book I had ever read before. Normally, when I would have to read a non fiction book, it would seem like torture. Most of the non fiction books I¿ve read just seem like a never ending book of useless facts. But in The Hot Zone, that is definitely not the case! Although it is a science book, it is written in the style of a thriller. The intense danger of the diseases are accurately portrayed by the creepy tone of the book and by the situations used. It has you on the edge of your seat, and there are many surprising events that occur that wouldn't be expected. Richard Preston , the author, turns facts into a bone chilling novel that educates and entertains in a perfect combination. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in medicine, biology, chemistry, or just science in general. Reading the book greatly improves your knowledge on diseases, viruses, being a scientist, how scientist work with diseases, how diseases are handled, how people and animals are effected by diseases, and so much more! The book also has GREAT vocabulary, and I learned so many new, interesting words after reading it! Also, in the back of the book there is a glossary, which is very helpful to aid in comprehension of the book and to highlight some of the main vocabulary. The Hot Zone is a unique, exciting, and educational book that is highly enjoyable and quite a thriller. So go check it out today!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2007

    insane ride

    I almost gave up 10 pages in as I started to feel a little queasy...I consider myself to have a strong stomach but this was just over the top. As someone else said, definately not for the faint hearted. But the gore factor gets better, not because it ends, but because you become desensitized to it. But besides that, this book was intriquing and horrifying. It's scary, but well written. And dont't read this book if you have any notions of going backpacking through Africa or the like...you won't want to go after this

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2007

    Freakiest thing I've read for a while.

    Richard Preston writes precisely. His fact-checks and concision are impressive. And his description chilling. Everytime I suffer a minor ailment, I promise myself it's the ebola virus. His narration of the man with the ebola virus marked me. Not marked but *engraved.* His writing isn't very good, it's a bit boring at times, but it's okay.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2006

    Discovering Mother Nature

    The Hot Zone is an exciting piece that delves into some of the deadliest viruses in the world. Ebola and Marburg are specific types of viruses that Richard Preston talks about, having done research on many different real life outbreaks and revealing them in his book, including what could have been a potentially fatal case of Ebola Reston the area outside of Washington D.C.. Preston does give a lot of examples of outbreaks in Africa outside of his main story, which can become fairly repetitive, yet he does an excellent job in explaining the disease and its affects on the body, including the transmission of it. Overall, the book is very interesting, something that most people would not want to put down until they¿ve heard all the terrors that await those infected and the dangers that exist. For those that do not like graphic descriptions, especially blood, I DO NOT recommend this book. It contains detailed descriptions of what Marburg and Ebola do to your body, both internally and externally. However, I would recommend this book to those who are interested in science, Mother Nature, and the true horror that the beauties of our world hides.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2005

    Thoughts of Ebola haunt you for days.

    This book will utterly and completely horrify you. Terrifying in its implications, the concepts it suggests are enough to keep you up at night and leave you a petrified hermit for weeks. Totally true and based off of real life people and accounts, The Hot Zone talks about the deadly 'hot' virus Ebola and its the effects it has when exposed to primates and eventually humans. Gruesome in its descriptions of the conditions one experiences after being exposed, if the first 20 pages don't leave you cringing with fear of viral infection, the rest of the book will. Similar to the SARS outbreak, the book also talks about the global effects Ebola could potential have if unleashed. Well written and easy to read, Richard Preston does a good job of holding the readers attention. Though some parts tend to somewhat repeat, your curiosity of the deadly infection will keep you turning the page night after night. Very interesting and extremely frightening, it is a fine read and I recommend it to all who are not already apprehensive of communicable disease.

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