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Cannonball Read IV: The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

By genericwhitegirl | Book Reviews | July 6, 2012 | Comments ()


coverhot-zone.jpg

This book, like my previously reviewed one (The Red Market) involves exotic locales, disturbing subjects, and how these things can affect the United States. The exotic locale? Africa. The disturbing subject? The Ebola virus. And what do these things have to do with the United States? Just the simple fact that there was nearly an Ebola breakout in Virginia in the late 1980′s.

Preston begins his tale in Kitum cave in Kenya, a possible origin of the ebola virus. He details accounts of people who have suffered from the virus, or similar viruses and describes their symptoms in horrifying detail. Besides Ebola itself, Preston gives a lot of interesting information about viruses in general, viruses related to Ebola, and how viruses are studied and tracked by organizations such as the USAMRIID (US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases). Some of my favorite parts of the book involve his descriptions of researchers who study risk group 4 pathogens. He describes the safety measures they must take, the environment they must work in, and yes, the close calls they face when things don't always work properly.

Preston focuses the second half of his book on a monkey holding facility in Reston, Virginia that quarantines monkeys from around the world destined for US research laboratories. When monkeys at this facility begin dying, a crisis begins behind the scenes in the United States that many people are probably not aware of.

This book is a great example of why I love the non-fiction genre. It truly can be stranger than fiction. And more horrifying.

For more of genericwhitegirl's reviews, check out her blog, The B List

This review is part of Cannonball Read IV. Read all about it.



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Comments Are Welcome, Douches Are Not


  • genericwhitegirl

    Oooh, a lot of book suggestions, thanks!

  • KateNonymous

    I really liked this book, but couldn't stand The Cobra Effect. Really? He needed to fictionally out-gross Ebola?

  • I read about half of this then had to take the book back to the library but I plan to finish it one day. I found it quite an interesting read, you would think the subject matter would make it rather dry, but he has a very readable syle.

  • gunnut2600

    "The Coming Plague" is a much better book. It details the history of various campaigns to wipe out diseases. "Hot Zone" is a lot of fluff, written by someone who obviously didn't get too far into biology 101.

  • Poopy McFartypants

    And your proof that Preston is lying is, what precisely? Let's see at least 5 valid reliable certified double blind studies refuting all the facts Preston lays out in the book or retract you r lying bullshit and apologize completely and unreservedly and never post here again.

  • GunNut2600

    And someone never got through fucking reading comprehension...

    I would ask you to explain where I implied or stated that Preston lied in his book but you are obviously too busy not writing out three letter words to think rationally.

    Murica FUCK YEAH!!!!

  • jannymac

    Fascinating book that I read in a single weekend and was the chief source material for a documentary series in the mid 90's, I was involved in the development of the series and got to meet Laurie Garret. She had lots of great stories that didn't end up in the book. I would say it was great dinner table conversation except you wouldn't want to go anywhere near food after hearing most of them.

  • jannymac

    Preston's other non-fiction book, "The Demon in the Freezer" is the far more frightening of the two. It talks about smallpox and how the Soviets have bred a super pox as part of germ warfare and the U.S. followed suit. If you watched the movie "Contagion" the final CDC scene of the bolted and locked freezers looks like it's right out of this book.
    Funny how we are so concerned with nuclear annahiliation and this stuff flies under the radar. Do you think all the interest in zombie movies of late are a subconcious way to deal with this fear?

  • marya

    In a word? Yes.

  • Rotwang

    The first chapter of Hot Zone made my blood run cold.

  • badkittyuno

    A good *fictional* counterpart to this book is The Cobra Event. My best friend and I read the two back-to-back in 6th grade and spent a lot of time grossing each other out with the best scenes.

  • One of my favorite nonfiction books! I remember reading this as a kid while on vacation with my family, and sharing some of the more horrifying passages out loud. Man, I was a brat. But who doesn't like to share interesting facts?

  • BiblioGlow

    I did the same thing! And then again with The Andromeda Strain, which I still love to this day. They were both so full of interesting facts! My family thinks I'm weird.

  • mswas

    You'll always have a home here!

  • BiblioGlow

    That is why I almost put 'anthropomorphic personification of Pajiba' on my Pajiba Ten list.

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