Congo

( 131 )

Overview

Deep in the African rain forest, near the legendary ruins of the Lost City of Zinj, an expedition of eight American geologists are mysteriously and brutally killed in a matter of minutes.

Ten thousand miles away, Karen Ross, the Congo Project Supervisor, watches a gruesome video transmission of the aftermath: a camp destroyed, tents crushed and torn, equipment scattered in the mud alongside dead bodies—all motionless except for one moving ...

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Overview

Deep in the African rain forest, near the legendary ruins of the Lost City of Zinj, an expedition of eight American geologists are mysteriously and brutally killed in a matter of minutes.

Ten thousand miles away, Karen Ross, the Congo Project Supervisor, watches a gruesome video transmission of the aftermath: a camp destroyed, tents crushed and torn, equipment scattered in the mud alongside dead bodies—all motionless except for one moving image—a grainy, dark, man-shaped blur.

In San Francisco, primatologist Peter Elliot works with Amy, a gorilla with an extraordinary vocabulary of 620 "signs," the most ever learned by a primate, and she likes to finger paint. But recently her behavior has been erratic and her drawings match, with stunning accuracy, the brittle pages of a Portuguese print dating back to 1642 . . . a drawing of an ancient lost city. A new expedition—along with Amy—is sent into the Congo, where they enter a secret world, and the only way out may be through a horrifying death . . .

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061782558
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/28/2009
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 196,856
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Crichton has sold over 200 million books, which have been translated into thirty-eight languages; thirteen of his books have been made into films. Also known as a filmmaker and the creator of ER, he remains the only writer to have had the number one book, movie, and TV show simultaneously. At the time of his death in 2008, Crichton was well into the writing of Micro; Richard Preston was selected to complete the novel.

Richard Preston is the internationally bestselling author of eight books, including The Hot Zone and The Wild Trees. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker. He lives with his wife and three children near Princeton, New Jersey.

Biography

Michael Crichton's oeuvre is so vivid and varied that it hard to believe everything sprang from the mind of a single writer. There's the dino-movie franchise and merchandising behemoth Jurassic Park; the long-running, top-rated TV series ER, which Crichton created; and sci-fi tales so cinematic a few were filmed more than once. He's even had a dinosaur named after him.

Ironically, for someone who is credited with selling over 150 million books, Crichton initially avoided writing because he didn't think he would make a living at it. So he turned to medical school instead, graduating with an M.D. from Harvard in 1969. The budding doctor had already written one award-winning novel pseudonymically (1968's A Case of Need) to help pay the bills through school; but when The Andromeda Strain came out in the same year of his med school graduation, Crichton's new career path became obvious.

The Andromeda Strain brilliantly and convincingly sets out an American scientific crisis in the form of a deadly epidemic. Its tone -- both critical of and sympathetic toward the scientific community -- set a precedent for Crichton works to come. A 1970 nonfiction work, Five Patients offers the same tone in a very different form, that being an inside look at a hospital.

Crichton's works were inspired by a remarkably curious mind. His plots often explored scientific issues -- but not always. Some of his most compelling thrillers were set against the backdrop of global trade relations (Rising Sun), corporate treachery (Disclosure) and good old-fashioned Victorian-era theft (The Great Train Robbery). The author never shied away from challenging topics, but it's obvious from his phenomenal sales that he never waxed pedantic. Writing about Prey, Crichton's cautionary tale of nanotech gone awry, The New York Times Book Review put it this way: "You're entertained on one level and you learn something on another."

On the page, Crichton's storytelling was eerily nonfictional in style. His journalistic, almost professorial, and usually third-person narration lent an air of credibility to his often disturbing tales -- in The Andromeda Strain, he went so far as to provide a fake bibliography. Along the way, he revelled in flouting basic, often subconscious assumptions: Dinosaurs are long-gone; women are workplace victims, not predators; computers are, by and large, predictable machines.

The dazzling diversity of Crichton's interests and talents became ever more evident as the years progressed. In addition to penning bestselling novels, he wrote screenplays and a travel memoir, directed several movies, created Academy Award-winning movie production software, and testified before Congress about the science of global warming -- this last as a result of his controversial 2004 eco-thriller State of Fear, a novel that reflected Crichton's own skepticism about the true nature of climate change. His views on the subject were severely criticized by leading environmentalists.

On November 4, 2008, Michael Crichton died, following a long battle against cancer. Beloved by millions of readers, his techno-thrillers and science-inflected cautionary tales remain perennial bestsellers and have spawned a literary genre all its own.

Good To Know

Some interesting outtakes from our 2005 interview with Crichton:

"I'm very interested in 20th-century American art."

"I have always been interested in movies and television as well as books. I see all these as media for storytelling, and I don't discriminate among them. At some periods of my life I preferred to work on movies, and at others I preferred books."

"In the early 1990s, interviewers began calling me ‘the father of the techno-thriller.' Nobody ever had before. Finally I began asking the interviewers, ‘Why do you call me that?' They said, ‘Because Tom Clancy says you are the father of the techno-thriller.' So I called Tom up and said, ‘Listen, thank you, but I'm not the father of the techno-thriller.' He said, ‘Yes you are.' I said, ‘No, I'm not, before me there were thrillers like Failsafe and Seven Days in May and The Manchurian Candidate that were techno-thrillers.' He said, ‘No, those are all political. You're the father of the techno-thriller.' And there it ended."

"My favorite recreation is to hike in the wilderness. I am fond of Hawaii."

"I used to scuba dive a lot, but haven't lately. For a time I liked to photograph sharks but like anything else, the thrill wears off. Earlier in my life I took serious risks, but I stopped when I became a parent."

"I taught myself to cook by following Indian and Szechuan recipes. They each have about 20 ingredients. I used to grind my own spices, I was really into it. Now I don't have much time to cook anymore. When I do, I cook Italian food."

"I read almost exclusively nonfiction. Most times I am researching some topic, which may or may not lead to a book. So my reading is pretty focused, although the focus can shift quickly."

"I have always been interested in whatever is missing or excluded from conventional thought. As a result I am drawn to writers who are out of fashion, bypassed, irritating, difficult, or excessive. I also like the disreputable works of famous writers. Thus I end up reading and liking Paul Feyerabend (Against Method), G. K. Chesterton (Orthodoxy, What's Wrong with the World), John Stuart Mill, Hemingway (Garden of Eden), Nietzsche, Machiavelli, Alain Finkielkraut (Defeat of the Mind), Anton Ehrenzweig (Hidden Order of Art), Arthur Koestler (Midwife Toad, Beyond Reductionism), Ian McHarg (Design with Nature), Marguerite Duras, Jung, late James M. Cain (Serenade), Paul Campos.

"Because I get up so early to work, I tend to go to bed early, around 10 or 11. So I don't go out much. I suppose I am borderline reclusive. I don't care."

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    1. Also Known As:
      John Michael Crichton (full name), Jeffery Hudson, John Lange
    2. Hometown:
      Los Angeles, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 23, 1942
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Date of Death:
      November 4, 2008
    2. Place of Death:
      Los Angeles, California

First Chapter

Congo

Chapter One

ERTS Houston

Ten thousand miles away, in the cold windowless main data room of Earth Resources Technology Services, Inc., of Houston, Karen Ross sat hunched over a mug of coffee in front of a computer terminal, reviewing the latest Landsat images from Africa. Ross was the ERTS Congo Project Supervisor, and as she manipulated the satellite images in artificial contrast colors, blue and purple and green, she glanced at her watch impatiently. She was waiting for the next field transmission from Africa.

It was now 10:15 P.M. Houston time, but there was no indication of time or place in the room. Day or night, the main data facility of ERTS remained the same. Beneath banks of special kalon fluorescent lights, programming crews in sweaters worked at long rows of quietly clicking computer terminals, providing real-time inputs to the field parties that ERTS maintained around the world. This timeless quality was understood to be necessary for the computers, which required a constant temperature of 60 degrees, dedicated electrical lines, special color-corrected lights that did not interfere with circuitry. It was an environment made for machines; the needs of people were secondary.

But there was another rationale for the main facility design. ERTS wanted programmers in Houston to identify with the field parties, and if possible to live on their schedules. Inputting baseball games and other local events was discouraged; there was no clock which showed Houston time, although on the far wall eight large digital clocks recorded local time for the various field parties.

The clock marked CONGO FIELD PARTY read 06:15 A.M. when the overhead intercom said, "Dr. Ross, CCR bounce."

She left the console after punching in the digital password blocking codes. Every ERTS terminal had a password control, like a combination lock. It was part of an elaborate system to prevent outside sources tapping into their enormous data bank. ERTS dealt in information, and as R. B. Travis, the head of ERTS, was fond of saying, the easiest way to obtain information was to steal it.

She crossed the room with long strides. Karen Ross was nearly six feet tall, an attractive though ungainly girl. Only twenty-four years old, she was younger than most of the programmers, but despite her youth, she had a self-possession that most people found striking -- even a little unsettling. Karen Ross was a genuine mathematical prodigy.

At the age of two, while accompanying her mother to the supermarket, she had worked out in her head whether a ten-ounce can at 19¢ was cheaper than a one-pound-twelve-ounce can at 79¢. At three, she startled her father by observing that, unlike other numbers, zero meant different things in different positions. By eight, she had mastered algebra and geometry; by ten, she had taught herself calculus; she entered M.I.T. at thirteen and proceeded to make a series of brilliant discoveries in abstract mathematics, culminating in a treatise, "Topological Prediction in n-Space," which was useful for decision matrices, critical path analyses, and multidimensional mapping. This interest had brought her to the attention of ERTS, where she was made the youngest field supervisor in the company.

Not everyone liked her. The years of isolation, of being the youngest person in any room, had left her aloof and rather distant. One co-worker described her as "logical to a fault." Her chilly demeanor had earned her the title "Ross Glacier," after the Antarctic formation.

And her youth still held her back -- at least, age was Travis's excuse when he refused to let her lead the Congo expedition into the field, even though she had derived all the Congo database, and by rights should have been the onsite team leader. "I'm sorry," Travis had said, "but this contract's too big, and I just can't let you have it." She had pressed, reminding him of her successes leading teams the year before to Pahang and Zambia. Finally he had said, "Look, Karen, that site's ten thousand miles away, in four-plus terrain. We need more than a console hotdogger out there."

She bridled under the implication that that was all she was -- a console hotdogger, fast at the keyboard, good at playing with Travis's toys. She wanted to prove herself in a four-plus field situation. And the next time she was determined to make Travis let her go.

Ross pressed the button for the third-floor elevator, marked "CX Access Only." She caught an envious glance from one of the programmers while she waited for the elevator to arrive. Within ERTS, status was not measured by salary, title, the size of one's office, or the other usual corporate indicators of power. Status at ERTS was purely a matter of access to information -- and Karen Ross was one of eight people in the company who had access to the third floor at any time.

She stepped onto the third-floor elevator, glancing up at the scanner lens mounted over the door. At ERTS the elevators traveled only one floor, and all were equipped with passive scanners; it was one way that ERTS kept track of the movements of personnel while they were in the building. She said "Karen Ross" for the voice monitors, and turned in a full circle for the scanners. There was a soft electronic bleep, and the door slid open at the third floor.

She emerged into a small square room with a ceiling video monitor, and faced the unmarked outer door of the Communications Control Room. She repeated "Karen Ross," and inserted her electronic identicard in the slot, resting her fingers on the metallic edge of the card so the computer could record galvanic skin potentials. (This was a refinement instituted three months earlier, after Travis learned that Army experiments with vocal cord surgery had altered voice characteristics precisely enough to false-positive Voiceident programs.)

Congo. Copyright © by Michael Crichton. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 131 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(56)

4 Star

(44)

3 Star

(25)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 131 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2000

    A Great Story That Will Catch And Keep Your Attention Throughout The Whole Book.

    Micheal Crighton has written such a richly detailed story that you are drawn into the Congo woirld as if you are there. The research he has done for this book makes it a realistic, and an excellent story for any type or age of reader. The realism and suspense in a dangerous situation earn this book its five star rating.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 6, 2012

    READ THIS BOOK

    This book has been one of the most suspenseful, interesting, and exiting books I have read so far. I had to choose a book from a list for an English presentation, and when I read Congo's summary I knew this book would not be boring. And in fact I was right. From the very start of this book I was hooked, when the eight man expedition team suddenly died by a mysterious jungle killer. When I read this I just flipped through the pages just to find out some answers. I literally couldn't put down this novel. Also when Michael Crichton added in another story about finding the lost city of Zinj that caught my attention even more. The way Crichton was able to develop Congo's story line amazed me. I feel that his style of writing will interest many readers of all different ages.
    The perfect use of detail added to this book too. It seemed like the author knew the right spots to add in description. For me, I enjoyed the parts were he described the Congo rain forest. For example, when the new team from ETRS steppes foot into the jungle, Crichton did a good job of explain the scenery. I really felt like I was one of those explorers trekking through the forest, in search of my fellow team member and the lost city.

    By far the most aspect of this book I enjoyed was the feeling of adventure and suspense. You couldn't even tell what going to happen next. Every story that Karen and her crew faced, was a fascinating. The book did a good job of keeping the reader on their feet. This is why Congo caught my attention as one of my most favorite books I have read so far.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 21, 2010

    CONGO!!!!!

    Congo, by Michael Crichton, depicts the race between two rival companies for blue diamonds in King Solomon's Mines. The last ETC team that went into the Congo were killed by gray gorilla. Eager to prove herself, Karen Ross, travels into the Congo to excavate the mines. Munro, the guide and Peter Elliot with his signing gorilla, Amy, join the ETC team. The team explores the endless jungles of the Congo fraught with danger.

    ETC has found a contract offering big money for rare blue diamonds; however the last ETC team got their heads smashed by a primate never seen by the world before. Peter Elliot, a Primatologist from California, and his signing Gorilla, Amy are offered a part in helping to find the King Solomon's mines. Peter Elliot has recently seen Amy draw pictures of the Lost City of Zinj and decides it might be best if she travels with the group. The ETC group is off in a race against similar rival companies.

    Michael Crichton creates an action packed story with danger at every turn of a page. Crichton creates a novel that is exciting and thrilling. I overall found the book very interesting, but I also found it a little dull at some times when they discussed the company.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2001

    It could have been better, but not much.

    A team from the company ERTS is suddenly demolished in the African Congo. What does that mean? It means that another Crichton thriller is on your hands. Another team is sent, which includes a techno bug named Karen, a signing ape named Amy, her owner Peter, and a white-hunter named Munro. It was a great book that followed in the steps of Sphere for the cut away from the world thrill. Not as good as JP or Sphere, but it was better than The Lost World.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2001

    The Temple wasnt found

    It was too explanitory and it wasnt grabing a picture out of my mind.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014

    Great book!

    Great book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    Lo v e d i t

    G e a t b o o k

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    Wonderful

    I personally love everything Michael Crichton writes, however this was an exceptional book. It really went into detail and excavated to the points and gave a lot of background to every individual element. I can appreciate that in writing like this.

    I definitely recommend this book and think that anyine who reads it would be just as satisfied.

    Hope this helps!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2012

    Very good.

    I liked the part where Amy was cleaning up her paper before going on the trip.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2012

    Loved it

    Really interesting

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Review

    An entertaining action story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2010

    waste of time and money

    this book was a compleat waste of time and money not recamended to anyone

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Congo

    I really enjoyed this book. I thougth it was believable. I am always amazed at how forward thinking he was. It seemed like he knew things we didn't. I am not normally into monkeys, apes, gorillas, but this story was so much more than that. Don't waste your time with the movie, read the book instead.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    An awesome thriller for any time

    When a team of explorers disapears, all of the evidence is on tape. A mysterious dark figure was seen walking away from the campsite. Now it is up to the exploration company to continue the expidition and find out what happened to their lost comrades.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2009

    Great Story

    This book is compelling. Crichton masterfully describes the Congo and the story flows together well.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2009

    Congo

    This is an interesting read. Although the overall plot included some topics not often included in other novels, the book was not my favorite. I have to say that I liked Jurassic Park a lot better. Good for those interested in gorillas and archaeology.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2009

    Great Book

    I am currently reading this book. I am a big Michael Chrichton fan. I have read Jurassic Park, & the lost world. Many good characters and lots if adventure awaits.

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  • Posted January 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    VERY EXCITING BOOK!!!

    I loved this book. Keeps you interested throughout the whole book. I love how Crichton doesn't dumb it down but, you can still understand it. Very interesting story line. I'm going to go try to find the movie now. Can't wait to read another Crichton book.

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  • Posted November 12, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Crichton's second best

    Congo is a great, fun, adventure of a book! Other than Jurassic Park I would say this is Crichton's best. It's original and I think, timeless. I read it in 8 hours because I just couldn't put it down. It's really intense at times, which I think is one of the best parts. It's hard to find books that have the same intensity as Congo. A perfect read for any age. Michael Crichton was a brilliant writer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2008

    congo is awsome

    In my opinion this is Crichton¿s best book yet. Congo started off with a bang and just kept going. His plot was deep and he used foreshadowing extensively, this kept me trying to guess what was going to happen next. I finished this book over one weekend it was so good. Every suspensefull page kept me hanging on the edge of my bed wanting to find out the next twist or turn in the book. I think it defiantly deserves 5 stars and now its got me hooked on all of Crichton¿s books. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a really good read, or even anyone who needs a book to read. I would have to say that this is one of the best books I¿ve read all year. Thank you Michael Crichton for writing this awesome novel.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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