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The Hot Zone
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The bestselling landmark account of the first emergence of the Ebola virus.

About the Author

Richard Preston was born in 1954 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and received a Ph.D from Princeton University. He is the author of The Hot Zone; American Steel (about the Nucor Corporation's project to build a revolutionary steel mill); and First Light (about astronomy and astronomists) which won the American Institute of Physics award in science writing. An asteroid has been named 'Preston' in honour of First Light. Preston is a lump of rock the size of lower Manhattan. It is likely some day to collide with Mars or the Earth. Richard Preston is a regular contributor to The New Yorker, and has won numerous awards, including the AAAS-Westinghouse Award and the McDermott Award in the Arts from MIT.

Reviews

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

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.)

Preston argues that dangerous viruses like HIV have emerged with the destruction of jungles and rain forests. Excerpted in The New Yorker in late 1992.

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