The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story

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Overview

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 acccount of the appearance of rare and lethal viruses and their "crashes" into the human race. Shocking, frightening, and impossible to ignore, The ...
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The Hot Zone: A Terrifying True Story

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Overview

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 acccount 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.

The true story of how a deadly virus from the central African rain forest suddenly appears in a Washington, D.C., animal test lab. In a matter of days, 90% of the primates exposed to the virus are dead, and secret government forces are mobilized to stop the spread of this exotic "hot" virus.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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. Sept.
Library Journal
Expanded from Preston's 1992 New Yorker article, this account of a lethal virus run amok is Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain come true. In the fall of 1989, imported monkeys at a Reston, Virginia, facility began dying of a mysterious illness. Was it simian hemorrhagic fever fatal to monkeys but harmless to humans or was it Ebola, an extremely deadly tropical virus that had devasted villages in Zaire and the Sudan in 1976? Writing in a breathless novelistic style, Preston American Steel, LJ 4/15/91 follows a military SWAT team as they don biohazard space suits to enter the "hot zone" and contain the alien virus. While this is thrilling reading there are plenty of gruesome descriptions of Ebola's effects on human victims, one does wonder how much Preston sensationalized events for the sake of a good story. He also only sketchily discusses the possiblity that the destruction of the rainforests are releasing unknown viruses into the human population. Still, with a forthcoming movie starring Robert Redford and Jodie Foster, there will be demand. Buy multiple copies. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/94]-Wilda Williams, "Library Journal"
School Library Journal
YA-Warning-not for faint hearts or weak stomachs! In 1989, an obscure filovirus travels from the African rain forest to a lab near Washington, D.C., where the monkeys quickly sicken and die. Preston traces the history of the Warburg and Ebola filoviruses in minute, horrific detail that is as fascinating to read as it is alarming to contemplate-these filoviruses have the capability to mutate and possibly cross species. There are extraneous descriptions of scenery and of the characters' lives, but these passages serve to relieve the mounting tension and terror as the virus spreads and the CDC, the Army, and a private firm work out a containment plan to prevent a mass epidemic. YAs interested in science or fans of Stephen King or Michael Crichton will find this a fast-paced medical chiller right to the last disturbing page.-Judy Sokoll, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Booknews
Look for a pot-boilin', splatter flick from this fictionalized medical horror story. On the filovirus out of Africa & the Philippines and its ghastly symptoms in man & monkey. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher
"One of the most horrifying things I've ever read. What a remarkable piece of work."
—Stephen King

"Popular science writing at its best and the year's most infectious page-turner."
People

"A top-drawer horror story...the best literary roller coaster of the fall."
Newsweek

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671506988
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Publication date: 10/28/1994
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Abridged, 2 cassettes, 3 hrs.
  • Product dimensions: 4.57 (w) x 7.07 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Preston

Richard Preston is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Cobra Event and The Demon in the Freezer. A writer for The New Yorker since 1985, Preston won the American Institute of Physics award and is the only nondoctor ever to have received the CDC's Champion of Prevention award. He has an asteroid named after him and lives outside of New York City.

Biography

Richard Preston is a versatile and unique writer. He's penned nonfiction and fiction, both to popular and critical acclaim. A frequent contributor to The New Yorker, he's written books about the vast intricacies and limitlessness of outer space; about microscopic, infinitely complex and deadly viruses; and—well before September 11—about the all-too-real threat of biological terrorism.

Preston is best known for creating a media frenzy and subsequent shockwave of terror in 1994 with his critically acclaimed, No. 1 New York Times bestseller, The Hot Zone. In a gripping, narrative style, The Hot Zone, relates a gripping true tale: In late 1989 in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., strands of the Ebola virus were found in the carcass of recently imported monkey from Africa. The book recounts the heroic efforts of soldiers and scientists as they attempted to avert a deadly outbreak of the virus, which is highly contagious and reputedly kills 90 percent of those it infects. Stephen King called it "one of the most horrifying things I've ever read."

The Hot Zone succeeded, not solely because the story was infectiously compelling and masterfully told, but because it was chilling to the bone. People were genuinely frightened. Everyone wanted to know, "Can this actually happen?" and "Are we really prepared if it does?"

Preston's next project, The Cobra Event, still has readers asking these same questions. The amazing achievement here: It's a work of fiction. About a biological terror attack on New York City, the plausibility of such a scenario is now, in our post-9/11 world, even more believable and scary. In fact, when then-President Bill Clinton read The Cobra Event, he was horrified. The New York Times reported: "Mr. Clinton was so alarmed by The Cobra Event that he instructed intelligence experts to evaluate its credibility." Preston recalled in a magazine interview: "So I get this frantic series of calls on my answering machine; 'Newt Gingrich is trying to reach you. He's been instructed by the President to call you and get your advice.' So I think, right, sure. But I end up talking with Gingrich for quite some time about biological terrorism." Preston has since appeared before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism & Government Information and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Chemical and Biological Weapons Threats to America.

Of The Cobra Event,Newsweek wrote, "…Preston has inadvertently created a new hybrid of fact and fiction…" Inadvertent or not, Preston's almost indistinguishable blending of fact and fiction makes for a great read. Like his nonfiction, the characters are highly developed and the pacing is swift. And the fear factor: intense long after the last page is read.

Like fellow nonfiction writers Mark Bowden (Black Hawk Down) and Jon Krakauer (Into Thin Air) and novelist Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park, Timeline, etc.), Preston has perfected the art of character. Science provides the backdrop to his work, but it never gets in the way of the story. After all, he's not a scientist. "I'm a writer, pure and simple," Preston once said. "I write about people."

Good To Know

An asteroid is named after Richard Preston. Called Asteroid Preston, it is approximately 3-5 miles across, and could actually collide with Mars—or Earth!—in approximately 100,00 years.

The Hot Zone inspired the 1995 hit movie Outbreak, which attracted an all-star cast led by Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, Cuba Gooding, Jr., and Donald Sutherland. The actual film version of Preston's book never got made; it stalled, and the competing project that became Outbreak was the one that made it to theaters.

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    1. Hometown:
      Hopewell, New Jersey
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 5, 1954
    2. Place of Birth:
      Cambridge, Massachusetts
    1. Education:
      B.A., Pomona College, 1976; Ph.D. in English, Princeton University, 1983
    2. Website:

Table of Contents

Part 1 The Shadow of Mount Elgon 1
Part 2 The Monkey House 155
Part 3 Smashdown 283
Part 4 Kitum Cave 373
Main Characters 412
Glossary 414
Credits 419
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 266 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(177)

4 Star

(63)

3 Star

(22)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 266 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    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 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'.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2013

    Great read, absolutely loved it!

    This book was extremely enjoyable. When I wasn't glued to its pages, I was thinking about it. I didn't sleep for days because it was absolutely terrifying. I am paranoid whenever I get a headache, but it is worth it. This book has made me interested in pathology and virology and of course Ebola.

    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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  • 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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I was going to pick up The Hot Zone by Richard Preston on Thanks

    I was going to pick up The Hot Zone by Richard Preston on Thanksgiving, but then thought better of it when I realized it was about the Ebola virus. Ebola virus and handling raw turkey and tons of food. . . probably not a good idea.

    So after Thanksgiving, I picked up The Hot Zone, and flew through this book. This true story is part history of the Ebola virus, and part horror story about its outbreak in Africa and, in the 1990s, near Washington, D.C.

    The Ebola virus is a "hot" virus, meaning that it spreads like crazy with victims having little chance of getting better after being infected. Ebola is transferred through minuscule amounts of blood and possibly through the air. Up to 90% of people infected with Ebola will die within a very short period of time, and die a very gruesome death.

    This book was not gory (except in one or two quick parts), but the Ebola virus sure is! The virus can cause humans to "bleed out" of every opening in their bodies, turning their insides to mush.

    The Hot Zone is a fantastic book about the outbreak of the Ebola virus, a supremely deadly virus without a cure or vaccination. But it sure makes me want to wash my hands a lot!!!!

    Have you read any good health or virus books?

    Thanks for reading,

    Rebecca @ Love at First Book

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 6, 2012

    Highly Recommended - an exciting read!

    The Hot Zone by Richard Preston was an amazing read that keeps you enthralled throughout the whole book. It starts off with the introduction of the Ebola virus into the world of the human beings. It describes the virus in such a vivid and descriptive way that even through all of the gore I was amazed by how the author could put such vivid descriptions in my head. There is no real storyline throughout Part 1 of this book but, with such detail it kept me wanting to read more every time I picked it up.

    The plot begins in Part 2 where we meet military microbiologists that research deadly diseases. Part 2 felt like a slow area to me where the setting and characters are introduced while the tension builds to a turning point. Each page of Part 2 leads the reader into a deeper part of the character's lives especially the Jaaxes.

    Then once at Part 3 the book explodes into a scene of chaos with the characters introduced in Part 2 being the main characters. I felt that Part 3 was the best part of this book because it had all the detail of Part 1, exciting and exhilarating action scenes, while keeping the plot going and still keeping the focus on the characters. Part 3 had a certain feel to it that conveyed emotions to me. When the action picked up and the characters were in a tense state, I could feel the tension from just reading. Richard Preston is a great writer in that he could make me feel those emotions with words. Overall, just the readability of this book is what got me. When I first picked up this book, I thought, "Oh, it's a science book, it's going to be boring." But, it was not. With the plot and detail, it hooked me instantly. I one hundred percent recommend for you to read this book, you will not regret it.

    2 out of 2 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2014

    Book that got me into reading!

    I read this book in high school after my biology teacher read the first couple chapters in class. I was hooked and this was the first book that I read for pleasure in my entire life. I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend it!

    1 out of 1 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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2013

    This book scared the hell out of me .... an excellent and thrill

    This book scared the hell out of me .... an excellent and thrilling read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2013

    Y

    Ytgf

    1 out of 3 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2012

    Five stars!

    A great read,hard to put down.

    1 out of 1 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!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2012

    i remember years ago --- working for ladenburge thalman in the m

    i remember years ago --- working for ladenburge thalman in the mailroom
    --- i was cool with one of the security guards ( an ex - marine)...he
    once suggested this read with a heads up, " no joke ". he was
    right on. i couldn't put this book down. a lucid read that will make
    your hairs stand up ( if you're bald, then this book will make your hair
    grow)...serious none BS read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2012

    I stumbled upon this book by accident, and it started me on my f

    I stumbled upon this book by accident, and it started me on my fascination with virology. Ebola is the monster of all viruses, and scares the heck out of me, and rightly so, so if you're squeemish you should avoid this book. The beginning is pretty graphic, and it will grab you at page 1. And, if you're paranoid, you should beware too...or else you'll end up living in a plastic bubble and will swear off traveling for the rest of your life. GREAT book, fascinating read, and very educational, too. Reads like a fiction novel, and a scary one at that. It should be a great wake-up call for all of humanity. Highly recommended. I actually own it and have read it 3 times...THAT'S how good it is.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2012

    I LOVED this book. I have always had a fascination with the end

    I LOVED this book. I have always had a fascination with the end of the world and this was the first book I read about how true it could have all been. Not to mention it was my first introduction into biology and how science can not only help us identify threats, but also lead us down a path of paranoia and useless precaution. It was the first time I realized that for all the saving grace science can provide, it will not always protect us. I always recommend this book to all of my apocalyptic enthusiast brethren because it shows how even the most careful precaution means nothing in the face of random events or how the most cutting-edge technology may provide a false positive on our doom.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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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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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 266 Customer Reviews

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