by Michael Crichton

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307816504
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/14/2012
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 33,901
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Michael Crichton’s novels include The Andromeda Strain, The Great Train Robbery, Congo, Jurassic Park, Rising Sun, Disclosure, and The Lost World. He was as well the creator of the television series ER. Crichton died in 2008.


Los Angeles, California

Date of Birth:

October 23, 1942

Date of Death:

November 4, 2008

Place of Birth:

Chicago, Illinois

Place of Death:

Los Angeles, California


B.A.. in Anthropology, Harvard University, 1964; M.D., Harvard Medical School, 1969

Read an Excerpt


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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Congo 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 157 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Carlosdogsmynombre More than 1 year ago
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.
MarekMS More than 1 year ago
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.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
LouCypher on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Another good Crichton book. Reading this in 2011, 31 years after it was written it was pretty cool to see all the technology that was expected to come about and seeing what has and has not developed as Crichton wrote. Fast paced action as always with his work made this a very fast and enjoyable read.
Michael_P on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Pretty much an average Crichton novel, but just a bit slower in portions and a bit more detached than usual. With that being said though, the ending was rushed and anticlimatic. Amy the gorilla was a wonderful character, but not enough to carry the novel. You could skip this one and not miss anything.
deslni01 on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Taken for what it is, Congo is actually an entertaining read. It follows Dr. Karen Ross, Dr. Elliot, and his gorilla-friend Amy (who has the wonderful ability to speak using Ameslan!) in the Congo. Dr. Ross is pursuing a rare blue diamond that has certain attributes which would enable technology to make a tremendous leap forward; Dr. Elliot is in the Congo to help Amy identify and get over her nightmares.This is a Crichton novel, so of course there are other 'teams' also after the diamonds, and of course a dash of the scientifically possible, yet horrifically deadly animals.The science and technology in this novel - now nearly 30 years old - hardly seems dated, which is surprising and shows how powerful technology was at the time. The many characters in the novel offer entertainment and help flush out the main characters, yet as usual of a Crichton book most of the characters are flat and suffer from extreme tunnel-vision.Regardless, this is an entertaining and quick read that brings to life the Congo forest and the creatures that may silently wait within...Please, do not watch the movie..
StormRaven on LibraryThing 3 days ago
I have come to regard Congo as a sort of dress rehearsal for Jurassic Park. There are significant differences - obviously there are no dinosaurs in Congo, just modified gorillas, and evil corporate greed turns out to end the book rather than set the book in motion; but the lost world aspect of the story, with unpredictable new creatures is the central theme of both stories. Congo is also a lesson on the dangers of writing a "near future" science fiction story - much of the cool technology described in the book was obsolete within a few years of publication, some was obsolete even before the book was actually on the market.Still, the story remains fun in a kind of King Solomon's Mines sort of way, evoking an H. Rider Haggard or Edgar Rice Burroughs feel with updated technology, and outsiders seeking to exploit Africa's resources not just to plunder gold and treasure for its own sake, but to build high technology computers.Oddly for a Crichton novel, shortsighted corporate greed doesn't cause the problem - a long gone civilization's attempts to protect their precious resources does. There also isn't the usual anti-technological fear mongering either. On the other hand, reckless corporate greed does cause a huge disaster that wipes out most of the discoveries found in the book, so that it pretty predictable for a Crichton novel.There really isn't anything particularly noteworthy about this novel, it reads well, the plot is interesting, and the characters are fairly well written, but there isn't anything here that makes this more than a standard techno-thriller.
vaillance on LibraryThing 3 days ago
Michael Crichton has written a fast-paced thriller that takes his reader into the heart of the African jungle. Although the main character, scientist Karen Ross, is not developed to any great depth, the tension-filled plot carries us along and builds suspense to the final chapter.
susanbevans on LibraryThing 5 days ago
At the beginning Michael Crichton's Congo, a research team looking for blue diamonds deep withing the Congo region has been mysteriously killed - the prime suspect: a possibly new species of gorilla. A new team, including a university professor and his research subject Amy, a gorilla who communicates using American sign language, is quickly dispatched to find answers (and diamonds). Unfortunately for them, they seem to be no match for the cunning and ruthless killing machines they discover.I recently read and really enjoyed Jurassic Park. Having said that, Congo failed to entertain me in the same way. It's not that it wasn't a good story. The premise is incredibly clever, and the natural history of primates and language development are subjects that I find fascinating. The thing that bogged things down for me in Congo was really all of the technology crud. It was simply too over-the-top for me and didn't really add anything to the story.It is obvious that Micheal Crichton was a talented and creative writer. Technology plays a big part in both of the books I've read by him, but in Congo the sheer magnitude of scientific data completely overwhelms what could have been a truly fascinating story. I can't say I'd recommend Congo, but if you're interested in trying Crichton on for size, try Jurassic Park. I'll be picking up The Lost World next week and I expect it to be wonderful.
queencersei on LibraryThing 5 days ago
Michael Crichton has an inexplicable gift for weaving a unique story and then providing an utter letdown for an ending. Congo is no exception. Except unlike some earlier works, the plot is exceptionally thin and the storyline does not age well. Not his best effort at all.
mrtall on LibraryThing 5 days ago
I like Michael Crichton books on the whole, and was always under the impression that his earlier works were better than his late stuff, which became more and more issue-bound and prosaic. Not so. Congo is the very definition of prosaic, as its plot and characters provide a barely coherent frame on which to hang lengthy expositions on satellite communications technology in particular, IT in general, and of course gorillas. And given that Crichton wrote this in the 1970s, it's seriously dated. Not recommended.
BeeQuiet on LibraryThing 5 days ago
A bit of a popcorn book, nothing too intellectual here, although I suppose one can muse over our perceptions of primates and their differences from us. It's a well paced, very entertaining book though. It holds plenty of Crichton's trademark technological explanations, which add an extra dynamic.
Radaghast on LibraryThing 5 days ago
I'm almost tempted to call this "Jurassic Park, with monkeys." But it's too good to mock. Crichton's writing is never tighter or cleaner than in Congo. Like always, he shows his unparalleled ability to demonstrate just how powerful, wise, intelligent and yet also silly our science really is.
Anagarika on LibraryThing 8 days ago
I really loved the concept behind this novel. One of his best.
abbylibrarian on LibraryThing 8 days ago
In a race to find a particular diamond mine that could influence technology as we know it, 24-year-old Dr. Ross is determined to beat out the competition, no matter the cost. Peter Elliott is bent on figuring out the strange dreams his gorilla Amy has been signing about. They're all going into the Congo. And what they find there will astound them, fascinate them, and terrify them.Not my favorite of Crichton's thrillers, but this novel was okay. The 1970s technology holds up surprisingly well and it felt less dated than I thought it would. My problem is that there weren't too many likeable characters and I didn't really feel like I connected with any of them. There is a gorilla who speaks sign language, so that was pretty cool and finding out what happened to Amy the gorilla kept me turning the pages.
HenryGalvan on LibraryThing 8 days ago
I so enjoyed the movie and thought that the book would further expand on it. Most of the best scenes were made up for the movie. Some of the amusing characters didn't exist. And in the book the " great white hunter" was actually white.
shrut on LibraryThing 8 days ago
Splendid and well-written.
Anagarika-Sean on LibraryThing 8 days ago
I really loved the concept behind this novel. One of his best.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Needs a little more of the sample for a purchase of the book
israfel13 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
Three fourths of this book are decent, then disaster hits as Crichton steams to a rushed, unsatisfying ending. The book still manages to be better than the movie, albeit barely.
dcoward on LibraryThing 3 months ago
I remember liking this years ago when I first read it, but this book didn't age well. There is a large focus on science fiction-y computer progress, but what was fascinating speculation in 1980 is rather a yawn now.
Trogdor7899 on LibraryThing 3 months ago
This is a decent read. Much better than that horrid movie version, however, it isn't much better. A good time killer, but definitely not Crichton's best.
Anonymous 8 months ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book with great characters and a great story. I think that the description in this book was perfect. Overall i think this was his best book.