The Hot Zone by Richard Preston (1994-09-20)

by Richard Preston

Hardcover, 1994

Call number




Random House (1750)


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 virus. The book tells this dramatic story, giving an account of the appearance of rare and lethal viruses and their "crashes" into the human race.

User reviews

LibraryThing member BrianDewey
Richard Preston. The Hot Zone. Anchor, New York, 1995. A little too much melodrama at times, but overall a well-told tale. I never knew how close I was to dying a horrible death! That's the most amazing thing... a major biocontainment episode in my back yard and I knew nothing about it.
LibraryThing member benjamin.duffy
The opening chapters of this book are utterly revolting. In a good way. Seriously. After about page 40, I set the book down and went and washed my hands nine times in a vat of boiling Purell. Afterwards, I returned to the book, only to find it settling into the groove of a pretty standard, maybe better than average, "true medical thriller." Still a good, creepy read, though.… (more)
LibraryThing member BookConcierge
WOW - Ebola and other killer viruses and the scientists who study them. Did you know there was an outbreak of Ebola virus among monkeys kept in a suburban Washington DC laboratory? Neither did I, until I read this book. Nonfiction that reads like the best medical thriller.
LibraryThing member dlgiddings
When I was working at Barnes and Noble this book made a reading list for high school students. It was after the second year that it was required reading that I decided I wanted to read it as well. I bought a copy thinking I would read it in my spare time. Once I started reading it through I couldn't stop until I had finished the whole thing.

This book sent chills down my spine, and with it being a work of non fiction that says a lot about the book and what Preston wrote. I had nightmares for weeks about the Ebola virus. It is chilling and terrifying to know that this is what really goes on in our world, that a disease can do so much damage and no one can stop it right now.

This is a must read for anyone who likes horror novels, this really a non-fiction horror novel. It will scare you, enthrall you and really make you think twice before going into the darker regions of the world.
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LibraryThing member bragan
This is the bestselling non-fiction account of the mysterious history of the Ebola virus and of an outbreak of what appeared to be an airborne variant among monkeys in a facility outside Washington DC, which scared the pants off pretty much everybody when it was first published back in the early 90s. Everybody but me, that is, because for some reason it took me this long to finally get around to reading the thing.

Well, I can report that it's still really freaking scary. It is, in fact, terrifying and horrific and deeply fascinating, and so gripping that I truly had difficulty putting it down to go to bed (and not just because I was mildly worried that it might give me nightmares). And now I don't think I'm ever going to be able to look at any of those plague-wipes-out-humanity post-apocalyptic science fiction stories the same way again. That scenario is way, way more plausible than I really want to think about.
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LibraryThing member kazzablanca
Richard Preston has taken a technically difficult subject and made it accessible to the masses.
LibraryThing member Sturgeon
Stephen King said it best: "The first chapter of The Hot Zone is one of the most horrifying things I've ever read in my whole life..."
LibraryThing member gretchenlg
The first non-fiction book I read that wasn't assigned by a professor. Scared the daylights out of me. The movie stunk.
LibraryThing member ddelmoni
Hands-down, THE most frightening non-fiction I've ever read. An absolute thilling, page-turner. I still have no clue where they got the story for that horrible movie based on this book!
LibraryThing member develynlibrary
Very intresting about viruses in cluding Ebola and the outbreak near Washington D.C.

Great book. Reads like a thriller.

Reads as fiction. Scary because it isn't fiction.

Very very good read. Totally awesome.

Nerve-wraking. Great read.

Scarier than most fiction, horror books because of detail and fact that it all actually happened. Very exciting.

Amazing. Easy read and very informative.

Fantastic! Easy to read because it seems like fiction- but it's NOT!
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LibraryThing member kraaivrouw
Excellent suspenseful book that will make you eye nondescript buildings in nondescript office parks very warily.
LibraryThing member JBreedlove
Non-fiction about emerging virus' from Africa and an out break at a primate facility in Reston, Virginia in 1989. Well written and preachy at the end but I was enlightened about an event that didn't make it onto the radar.
LibraryThing member heinous-eli
The best dramatization of true events that I have ever read, period.
LibraryThing member elkeursin
Wow, what an experience it was reading this piece of non-fiction. My field is in environmental health and this really is like the type of thing that epidemiologists prepare for yet hope never happens. It's frightening and real and a very good read.
LibraryThing member damcg63
Scared the heck out of me.
LibraryThing member mkofz6
I read this in 7th grade and it launched a thirst for 'bug' books. I really enjoy reading books about viruses and other bugs and this one does not disappoint. It grabs your attention from the start and holds it until the end and leaves you wanting more.
LibraryThing member Matsar
Terrifying, disgusting, unsettling...and completely fascinating. Not for the squeamish or those who are not interested in this type of subject. Written in a very entertaining style that reads like fiction without any dry, scientific information that would put the non-scientist to sleep.
LibraryThing member csayban
We humans like to think we are at the top of the food chain. We are the ultimate predators capable of dispensing with anything that gets in our way. Our biggest threat is really only to each other. Right? In a word…wrong. There are predators that have been around since long before we came out of the trees – predators that we can’t fight, can’t stop – can’t even see. And they have been right on our doorstep and we didn’t even know it.

“In biology, nothing is clear, everything is too complicated, everything is a mess, and just when you think you understand something, you peel off a layer and find deeper complications beneath. Nature is anything but simple.”

The Hot Zone reads like a fiction thriller. In fact, Richard Preston is a best-selling fiction writer. He is also a journalist who has traveled to where the nastiest viruses on earth have originated. However, The Hot Zone isn’t fiction. It is an unnerving account of how one of the deadliest viruses on earth – Ebola – which kills up to 90% of the individuals infected with it, in a unimaginably gruesome way, ended up finding its way in to a monkey house in a suburb of Washington D.C.

The Hot Zone is very well written and chilling in how it relates two things. First, how viruses such as Ebola and Marburg can evolve and mutate entirely on their own, disappear from view and reappear when we least expect it. The second – and most unsettling to me – is how powerless and ill-prepared we are to deal with something like this. It can be spread around the world in a day and infect large numbers of people killing most and there is no cure. In this era of jet travel, something like this represents nature’s ultimate doomsday device.

Any nonfiction book that can make Stephen King call it “one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever read,” and Suzanne Collins say “I just read it a few weeks ago. Still recovering,” is something that needs to be read. It will certainly give you pause – if not the creepy-crawlies – after reading it.
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LibraryThing member seldombites
This was an interesting book. It was a little disconcerting jumping around between events, but the reasoning was clear and the flow relatively seamless. The descriptions of the virus were fascinating, though a little scary. I sure would not want to ba around if the human strain becomes airborne! This is a little dry at times but very interesting and well worth reading.… (more)
LibraryThing member ehines
As seems to be the usual with these books, a bit on the alarmist side. BUT lots and lots of great stories of outbreaks, near outbreaks, scientific triumphs and scientific infighting from all over the world.
LibraryThing member stipe168
Totally interesting, very gripping, great writer, great language, held
me close all the way through..until it got to a point where it was more of a rescue operation rather than the virus. at that point it kinda died.
LibraryThing member eenee
I'm not sure when exactly I read this..5th 6th grade? All I remember is loving it. For years afterward I wanted to work at the CDC. Liquefied organs, bleeding out your eyes; I read snippets out loud to friends. Needless to say, I was a morbid child. A thrilling and super grotesque portrait of a virus that is more terrifying than you can imagine.… (more)
LibraryThing member manyalibrarian
Riveting and terrifying book about the spread of fatal infectious diseases, such as ebola. Ebola kills 9 out of 10 victims and might be spread through the air. If it is, we could be looking at another world-wide epidemic.
LibraryThing member Shirezu
We're doomed. This book truly is scary. I had heard of Ebola many times but this really brought to home just how horrifying and deadly it really is. The day that virus mutates into an airborne pathogen is the day the human race faces extinction.

And if you thought descriptions of the Black Plague were bad you ain't seen nothing yet. Death by filovirus would have to be one of the worst ways to go. Your body literally liquifies while you are still alive. Blood pours from every orifice. Every organ fails and half of them pass out of your body before you're gone. You end up a mess of slime and bone.

We have close many times and it's getting more likely that we will soon face a serious pandemic. Let's just hope it's not something with a mortality rate like Ebola Zaire.
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LibraryThing member Stbalbach
The classic account that introduced the Ebola virus to modern imagination. Since I live nearby the laboratory where this takes place it was great fun and I still remember the Washington Post reports when it was happening (though they were much less concerned at the time then in retrospect). Preston has been accused of overplaying the disease and danger but that doesn't take away from the essence of it. A little fictive makes is easier to sleep. A classic of narrative nonfiction.… (more)
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