Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come

Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come

The 2013-2014 Ebola epidemic was the deadliest ever--but the outbreaks continue. Now comes a gripping account of the doctors and scientists fighting to protect us, an urgent wake-up call about the future of emerging viruses--from the #1 bestselling author of The Hot Zone, soon to be a National Geographic original miniseries.This time, Ebola started with a two-year-old chil...

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Title:Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come
Author:Richard Preston
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Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come Reviews

  • Toya

    I read The Hot Zone over a decade ago, and I instantly fell in love with Richard Preston’s writing. As someone who has always loved science, especially virology, Ebola was always the virus that I found to be the most fascinating and also most terrifying. It’s one of the simplest viruses (as contagious as the common cold), it has the capacity to cross-species jump and evolve, and it completely decimates the human immune system in just 7-10 days (something that takes YEARS for HIV to do). That bei

    I read The Hot Zone over a decade ago, and I instantly fell in love with Richard Preston’s writing. As someone who has always loved science, especially virology, Ebola was always the virus that I found to be the most fascinating and also most terrifying. It’s one of the simplest viruses (as contagious as the common cold), it has the capacity to cross-species jump and evolve, and it completely decimates the human immune system in just 7-10 days (something that takes YEARS for HIV to do). That being said, I have always dreamt of becoming an epidemiologist for the CDC and working in the Hazmat suits on Biosafety Level 4. When I found out that he was doing a follow up to my beloved The Hot Zone, I couldn’t request the book fast enough!

    Richard Preston does an incredible job of immersing you into the gruesome reality of Ebola outbreaks. He doesn’t spare you the gorey details. When The Hot Zone was first released in 1994, the seriousness of the Ebola virus did not really register for many Americans since it was a virus that was mostly confined to Africa, and there wasn’t widespread media coverage in the 1970s to really highlight the grim reality. The recent outbreak in 2014, brought Ebola into international spotlight, and The Crisis in the Red Zone provides the details that the media outlets did not have access to.

    Preston is able to humanize Ebola. He is able to take the medical and scientific jargon surrounding viruses as a whole and make them digestible to all audiences. He recounts stories of medical workers who attempted to save patients and their horrifying experiences in the Ebola wards. (If medical procedures and bodily fluids that are described in painstaking detail make you queasy, this will most definitely not be for you.) The story alternates between the original 1976 outbreak to the 2014 outbreak to answer what has been learned about Ebola and its evolution during that time period.

    Overall, this was another fantastic piece by Richard Preston that gives even more insight into this virus as well as provides hope for a future where we are ultimately able to eradicate this virus once and for all.

    Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for providing an eARC. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

    4.5/5 stars, rounded up!

  • Jo Burl

    Thank you NetGalley for this advanced reader's copy.

    I believe I've read all of Richard Preston's books, and didn't think he could improve on the Hot Zone, but he has!

    This is a truly frightening book, and if it were fiction, I would have thought that it came from the mind of Stephen King. It is much scarier because it is true. The monster in this case is the improved (?!) version of Ebola virus, the Makona Ebola. The Hot Zone gave us a "primer" on what Ebola is and does. Now imagine that the viru

    Thank you NetGalley for this advanced reader's copy.

    I believe I've read all of Richard Preston's books, and didn't think he could improve on the Hot Zone, but he has!

    This is a truly frightening book, and if it were fiction, I would have thought that it came from the mind of Stephen King. It is much scarier because it is true. The monster in this case is the improved (?!) version of Ebola virus, the Makona Ebola. The Hot Zone gave us a "primer" on what Ebola is and does. Now imagine that the virus has mutated in just one letter of its genetic code to allow it to be MORE infectious. How do health care givers deal with something even more virulent? How does a community?

    This book, while explaining the how, also looks at the personal impact to people. We see what life is like for the unfortunate people who have been infected, the families of these people and how social customs help the virus to propagate itself. As Preston said, "The virus, a true monster, followed the bonds of fealty and love that joined the hospital's caregivers to one another and ultimately to every other person on earth". We are given the stories of the ambulance driver who was infected, the many nurses who had direct patient care and the doctors who were also infected. Each story is more heartbreaking than the last, with very few happy endings, one or two of which you may remember from the news. As you read this, you’ll realize who the real superheroes are, more than the Avengers or Superman, they are the people who rushed to give aid to people who so easily could kill them just by an accidental transference of bodily fluids. I yelled at the caregivers more than once.

    There were issues that I was unaware of at the time, such as the controversy and ramifications of using the untried in humans drug, ZMapp. This part made truly angry. Without spoiling the book I’ll leave that for you to discover and have your own reactions. Days after finishing it, I’m still shocked by this section.

    I work in a non-clinical position in a hospital and I remember this unfolding in 2014 and discussions of how our hospital would deal with Ebola if it showed up here. At the time, I found it an intriguing, disturbing thought, but considered it outside of the realm of possibility. Now I know how close a call the whole world had with this outbreak.

    The book is fascinating and hard to put down. It will make you a bit paranoid in public with everyone who coughs or sneezes, or even hiccups!

    If I could change anything, I would have a map and photos of the main people in the book. I had to constantly google this information.

  • Elizabeth

    Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come

    Author: Richard Preston

    Pages: 400

    Genre: Science

    Pub date: July 23,2019

    The 2103-2014 was the deadliest ever--but the outbreaks continue. Now comes a gripping account of the doctors and scientists fighting to protect us, an urgent wake-up call about the future of emerging viruses--from the #1 bestselling author of The Hot Zone, soon to be a National Geographic original miniseries.

    This time, Eb

    Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come

    Author: Richard Preston

    Pages: 400

    Genre: Science

    Pub date: July 23,2019

    The 2103-2014 was the deadliest ever--but the outbreaks continue. Now comes a gripping account of the doctors and scientists fighting to protect us, an urgent wake-up call about the future of emerging viruses--from the #1 bestselling author of The Hot Zone, soon to be a National Geographic original miniseries.

    This time, Ebola started with a two-year-old child who likely had contact with a wild creature and whose entire family quickly fell ill and died. The ensuing global drama activated health professionals in North America, Europe, and Africa in a desperate race against time to contain the viral wildfire. By the end--as the virus mutated into its deadliest form, and spread farther and faster than ever before--30,000 people would be infected, and the dead would be spread across eight countries on three continents.

    In this taut and suspenseful medical drama, Richard Preston deeply chronicles the outbreak, in which we saw for the first time the specter of Ebola jumping continents, crossing the Atlantic, and infecting people in America. Rich in characters and conflict--physical, emotional, and ethical--Crisis in the Red Zoneis an immersion in one of the great public health calamities of our time.

    Preston writes of doctors and nurses in the field putting their own lives on the line, of government bureaucrats and NGO administrators moving, often fitfully, to try to contain the outbreak, and of pharmaceutical companies racing to develop drugs to combat the virus. He also explores the charged ethical dilemma over who should and did receive the rare doses of an experimental treatment when they became available at the peak of the disaster.

    Crisis in the Red Zone makes clear that the outbreak of 2013-2014 is a harbinger of further, more severe outbreaks, and of emerging viruses heretofore unimagined--in any country, on any continent. In our ever more interconnected world, with roads and towns cut deep into the jungles of equatorial Africa, viruses both familiar and undiscovered are being unleashed into more densely populated areas than ever before.

    The more we discover about the virosphere, the more we realize its deadly potential. Crisis in the Red Zone is an exquisitely timely book, a stark warning of viral outbreaks to come.

    My thoughts

    Rating: 5

    Would I recommended it? yes

    Will I read anything else by this author? yes

    This is the first time I've ever read anything about the Ebola virus and I'm glad that I decide to pick this up, First off the author brings to live and gives an in dept look of the Ebola virus and how it affects the body and how its passed from one person to the next , he goes also in dept of how the doctors and nurses puts their very live at risk to help fight this virus and the steps they and they government as well as the NGO take as well, he brings to life not only the virus but the people who fight and died from it , as well as how the families of the deceased and how the villagers treated their lost ones and goes into explaining how the virus was past though out the families as well as the villagers. He also tells you about the six different types of Ebola .Yes you read right there are six different types .And those

    6 known species of Ebola is : Zaire Ebola, Sudan Ebola, Reston Ebola, Tai Forest Ebola, Bundibugyo Ebola and Bombali Ebola, their know as the six Ebola sisters,and that

    Out of the 6 ,the most lethal is the Zaire or is the homicidal elder sister. not only is it the most deadly of the five Ebolas but it is also the most deadly of all known filoviruses, that includes the Ebolas. It's the Lord of the strains.

    After reading this book I can understand a little bit better why we need to study these types of virus and how to fight them , but it also scare to think what would happening if they ever got lose of here , or someone using them as a weapon but over all its still a good book to read with that said I want to thank Netgalley for letting me read and review it .

  • athenap

    Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the ARC of Crisis in the Red Zone. As a health professional and public health grad student concentrating in infectious diseases, I was particularly interested in this book as the subject is right up my alley. Having previously read about and researched the 2013-14 West Africa Ebola outbreak, I thought I knew a lot about what had happened. Turns out I didn't know as much as I thought I did.

    Preston masterfully delves into the details and charac

    Thank you to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the ARC of Crisis in the Red Zone. As a health professional and public health grad student concentrating in infectious diseases, I was particularly interested in this book as the subject is right up my alley. Having previously read about and researched the 2013-14 West Africa Ebola outbreak, I thought I knew a lot about what had happened. Turns out I didn't know as much as I thought I did.

    Preston masterfully delves into the details and characters of the tragic events of the first appearance of Ebola in Yambuku in 1976, and then in 2013 starting in Guinea. I learned much more about the backstory (e.g. development of ZMapp and other experimental drugs) and people (I discovered I personally know someone mentioned in the book), which proved very satisfying. There were a few typos and a couple of points in the text where I felt the language was overly dramatic, but overall, I think it's difficult NOT to tell a story in this manner when a deadly virus and life-0r-death situations are involved. It was a gripping account and admittedly, I went through a gamut of emotions as I progressed through the book. I felt immense sadness when reading about the sacrifices made by the workers at Kenema hospital, and -- as a nurse -- anger when simple life-saving measures were withheld (details in the book, though I'm not convinced the reasons made by individuals/organizations were justified). I can't imagine the ethical conflicts that some of the characters faced when confronted with issues of deciding who was to receive treatment. It's a fascinating narrative that highlights differences in cultural beliefs and practices, Western and tribal folk medicine, and how the two often clashed.

    The fact that these events happened only 5 years ago and currently another outbreak rages in the DRC and has spread into Uganda illustrates how utterly real, terrifying, and devastating the threat of disease-causing microbes is. It can't be understated how important it is, as citizens and nations, to stay vigilant and prepared for "war" against lethal viruses and bacteria.

  • Donna Backshall

    Wow, wow, just wow. A good thriller is that much scarier when IT'S FREAKING REAL.

    Review to come, but first I need to bathe, to scrub my skin raw and try to shake the feeling that everything and everyone I've come in contact with is teeming with the ebola virus. Seriously, I'm terrified. We all should be.

    ------------------------------------

    Okay, review time!

    can write a true thriller like no one else I've read. He gets into the grit of recent events as they unfold and puts us RIGHT

    Wow, wow, just wow. A good thriller is that much scarier when IT'S FREAKING REAL.

    Review to come, but first I need to bathe, to scrub my skin raw and try to shake the feeling that everything and everyone I've come in contact with is teeming with the ebola virus. Seriously, I'm terrified. We all should be.

    ------------------------------------

    Okay, review time!

    can write a true thriller like no one else I've read. He gets into the grit of recent events as they unfold and puts us RIGHT THERE. This is why I've read practically everything he's ever written, and have yet to be disappointed.

    We all know the Ebola hemorrhagic fever virus is terrifying, and we have heard about recent outbreaks. But we didn't know what was actually happening, and we have been sheltered by the media from the news that there are still outbreaks in Africa that could threaten the globe. Do we know to be prepared to hole up, if an outbreak hit our cities and towns? Do we understand the concept of reverse quarantine and how it has helped prevent the spread across African countries? There is so much to learn, and

    offers current and vital information to add on top of

    ,

    , and the others.

    I was fascinated to find out that, like climate change deniers, there are Ebola deniers. One of the biggest reasons Ebola was spreading so quickly five years ago is that there were many who didn't believe this is a real disease, spread by a wet virus. They thought it was some kind of conspiracy created by the white men coming in and putting up hospitals, or it was a demon or gods getting them. These Ebola deniers wouldn't take those infected to the hospitals, and were even stealing infected people from hospitals and taking them home.

    Equally fascinating was the ritual of rinsing (Ebola-covered) family members' bodies after death, then giving honored family members the gift of rinsing with that same water, so they may bathe in the loved one's essence. Yes, literally taking all the active Ebola particles that clung to the deceased's body, rinsing them into a basin and pouring them onto oneself. I am still dumbstruck that these kinds of burial practices haven't destroyed civilizations, given all the plagues and viruses that have attacked humanity over millenia. Or maybe it has?

    "Behavior changes. This is how all outbreaks end."

    "Ebola outbreaks end when people decide they're going to end."

    The changes that took place to slow this current spread of Ebola were intriguing. It sounds so simple -- isolate, wash with bleach, be careful -- but considering the "it's fake news" beliefs of the affected populations, it seems unlikely modern medicine could make an impact, though it's a relief to hear something finally changed.

    "The Ebola war wasn't won with modern medicine. It was a medieval war, and it went down as a brutal engagement between ordinary people and a life form that was trying to use the human body as a means of survival through deep time. In order to win this war against an inhuman enemy, people had to make themselves inhuman. They had to suppress their deepest feelings and instincts, tear down the bonds of love and feeling, isolate themselves from or isolate those they loved the most. Human beings had to become like monsters, in order to save their human selves."

    My heart goes out to each and every healthcare worker who, against horrifying odds, stepped up and put their lives on the line to battle this disease. Many lost their lives in the fight, and it's unfortunate they are not mourned more publicly.

    We have not seen the last of Ebola, for sure, but we can hope for continuing vaccine research and public acknowledgement of the dangers. There will always be a new virus, a new threat, but what we can realistically hope for within our lifetimes is an eradication of the hideous death we expect from Ebola.

  • Jan

    Worse than Yellow Fever, Typhoid, or Malaria but mimicking both for a time, the scourge of Ebola was first seen in a village in Zambia in 1976. It certainly didn't stop there but went on a killing spree that spread and defied the medical field and investigators.

    Written in a style that translates Medicalese into a language that anyone can understand and occasionally using very short sentences to emphasize the unthinkable, this is not just a history, but a warning. The scope of Ebola is somewhat

    Worse than Yellow Fever, Typhoid, or Malaria but mimicking both for a time, the scourge of Ebola was first seen in a village in Zambia in 1976. It certainly didn't stop there but went on a killing spree that spread and defied the medical field and investigators.

    Written in a style that translates Medicalese into a language that anyone can understand and occasionally using very short sentences to emphasize the unthinkable, this is not just a history, but a warning. The scope of Ebola is somewhat diminished today, but who knows what other virus could mutate into the next horror.

    I requested and received a free ebook copy from Random House Publishing Group via NetGalley.

  • S.L. Berry

    What would you do if a loved one came down with Ebola? Do you remember when if you went to a doctor's office they asked if you had traveled outside the U.S. within a certain time period and where?

    That is what Richard Preston's forthcoming book, Crisis in the Red Zone is about. It is the account of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and other countries in West Africa that started with one boy and then traveling through the Makong Triangle and spreading outwards until it rea

    What would you do if a loved one came down with Ebola? Do you remember when if you went to a doctor's office they asked if you had traveled outside the U.S. within a certain time period and where?

    That is what Richard Preston's forthcoming book, Crisis in the Red Zone is about. It is the account of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and other countries in West Africa that started with one boy and then traveling through the Makong Triangle and spreading outwards until it reached Dallas, Texas and New York. Ebola killed thousands as it spread like wildfire until finally villagers began taking the fight to Ebola through implementing the Ancient Rule -- understanding that Ebola is not a white man's myth but a deadly wet virus that is spread through contact with bodily fluids, recognizing the symptoms of Ebola, isolating of and removal from contact with those infected with Ebola, and destruction through fire or protected burial of the deceased and everything that the deceased may have come in contact with. It is the story of giving (or protecting) life through temporarily changing practices, habits, and deeply ingrained customs and a way of life so that those who are not already infected with Ebola do not break with it and succumb.

    Crisis in the Red Zone is also the story of the intersection of modern medicine and ways with ancient tribal medicine, folk healing, and culture and the clash between the two as seen in the struggle of Doctors of Without Borders in their "moon suits" to locate and then isolate and treat those infected with Ebola. To be clear, there were other similar conflicts elsewhere that rose to the level of near war between villagers and those who fought Ebola.

    Preston's account also delves into the conflict that developed between the World Health Organization, Doctors with Borders, and governmental agencies, in Africa and outward including the U.S. and how this clash led to the death of the doctor of the of the Kenema Government Hospital's Ebola ward, Humarr Khan. It is the story of how adherence to inflexible practices and procedures can kill through ignorance of and the overriding local traditions that in turn creates conflict with local populations who have had limited contact with outsiders. This conflict and misunderstanding then creates myths and superstition in the minds of the villagers that eventually leads into war between the villagers and outsiders.

    Crisis in the Red Zone also relates the superhuman efforts of Doctors Without Borders, World Health Organization doctors, outside experts and local medical personnel to struggle beyond the point of collapse and utter chaos to combat Ebola in situations that were war-like inside the treating areas.

    Preston also details the evolution of Ebola vaccines and treatments, the Level 4 containment and care that is required to stop an outbreak through in essence creating a fire break in the path of the disease and the history of Ebola including the 1976 outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the lessons learned there which became known as the Ancient Rule and was ultimately implemented by the villagers and medical personnel in the 2014 outbreak.

    This reader learned a lot through Preston's cogent and in-depth writing and analysis that was easy to understand. At times, in the early part through mid-way, the writing had the annoying quality of like talking to a child. It was not enough to distract this reader. Also, at some point, Preston begins to write part of the time in the first person as he starts to relate to readers his investigation and research for the book. The first time a section appears this reader thought it was an error. It is not as later in the narrative, it becomes clear what the author is doing. Other than that, Preston's account is a fascinating, if chilling, account of how linked this world and how societies and worlds can be destroyed by a microscopic invader.

    Copy provided by the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Laura

    I’m exhausted from grimacing as I read this book, but it’s a very important account. Preston has brought to life the dedicated doctors and nurses who were on the front lines of the deadliest Ebola outbreak ever. His book highlights both how much committed people can do in the face of the horrors of a deadly disease and how wholly unprepared our society is for the next outbreak.

  • Amanda

    Having just recently read Richard Preston's hit book The Hot Zone, I was excited to see that he was releasing a follow up dealing with the recent Ebola outbreak in Africa in 2013-2014. I loved The Hot Zone and had even watched the National Geographic miniseries based upon the book. However, I must say I was deeply disappointed in Preston's newest Ebola story.

    Crisis in the Red Zone tells the story of the recent spread of Ebola through Africa, particularly in Guinea and Sierra Leone. Starting with

    Having just recently read Richard Preston's hit book The Hot Zone, I was excited to see that he was releasing a follow up dealing with the recent Ebola outbreak in Africa in 2013-2014. I loved The Hot Zone and had even watched the National Geographic miniseries based upon the book. However, I must say I was deeply disappointed in Preston's newest Ebola story.

    Crisis in the Red Zone tells the story of the recent spread of Ebola through Africa, particularly in Guinea and Sierra Leone. Starting with the death of a small child, the Ebola virus quickly devastates many small villages and kills hundreds of people. As health officials worldwide become aware of the situation, doctors and scientists are sent in to try and contain the disease before it becomes a global pandemic. Scientists also try to discover the origin of the virus and realize that once it enters humans, the virus spread and mutates at an extraordinary level. Preston delves into the lives of those on the ground in the hot zones, from the doctors and nurses watching as patients suffer horrible deaths, to scientists in labs in the US, searching for answers. Some of these people do not survive the outbreak, and all are changed forever by the horrors they witness in the red zone.

    One thing I liked about Preston's book The Hot Zone was his ability to make us care about the people in the two main storylines of that book (the doctors in Zaire and the Jaxxs in Maryland). Again, in this book, Preston gets us to care about the people involved in this crisis; however, there are TOO many people to have to keep up with and care about in this book. He follows many characters, flipping back and forth between their stories from one paragraph to the next, and it makes it very difficult to remember who is who and to keep up with a streamlined narrative for each character. I feel this book would have been much clearer had it followed only a few characters that we can easily track through the entire book rather than quickly bouncing from one character to the next to the next. Preston also goes into significant detail about almost every topic in this book. While I appreciate the detailing of the virus and how it is composed, how it works and how it spreads, not everything that is discussed needs an extended explanation. I feel he gets bogged down in the details, repeating himself numerous times about unimportant facts, and forgets to get back to the main idea; I found myself becoming very bored as I read this book. For a story that is so horrifying and real, the way in which it is presented is meandering, slow-paced, and exhausting.

    This book is a scary read, like Preston's other works, and the fact that this story is a true story makes it all the more terrifying. I appreciate Preston bringing this story to light; I just wish it had been done in a more cohesive and thrilling manner.

    My thanks to Random House and Netgalley for providing this ARC of Crisis in the Red Zone by Richard Preston.

    Rating: ⭐⭐

  • Madison

    I received an uncorrected proof of this book thanks to NetGalley.

    Crisis in the Red Zone focuses on the deadliest Ebola epidemic (2013-2014) as well as the Ebola outbreak in 1976. The reader is given some history of the Ebola Virus and the ongoing fight to find a cure or vaccine. But, this is so much more than just a book about a virus. Richard Preston really focuses on human nature and the compassion of the people who were fighting this virus and the many who died. This is about the physical, e

    I received an uncorrected proof of this book thanks to NetGalley.

    Crisis in the Red Zone focuses on the deadliest Ebola epidemic (2013-2014) as well as the Ebola outbreak in 1976. The reader is given some history of the Ebola Virus and the ongoing fight to find a cure or vaccine. But, this is so much more than just a book about a virus. Richard Preston really focuses on human nature and the compassion of the people who were fighting this virus and the many who died. This is about the physical, emotional and ethical conflicts that were taking place across continents.

    Due to there being two timelines of Ebola outbreaks, I naturally found myself more interested in one than the other. I worked for a medical company during this epidemic in 2014, so that was the one I found myself far more invested in. I'm more familiar with it and it's one of the biggest reasons I picked this book up. So the numerous sections about the 1976 outbreak I found myself losing interest slightly. They needed to be there and they were written about very well, but it's a lot of information and characters to keep track of and I definitely didn't pay as close attention to those parts.

    I wish there had been more about the mass panic the media was able to stir up surrounding this crisis. Overall, though, I thought Preston did a great job portraying the difficult decisions that needed to be made in the midst of this devastating and chaotic epidemic where people have very little information. Those human moments are what make this book so well done!

    Emerging diseases are only going to become more prevalent. With the current Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo and WHO announcing this as an international concern, I can’t think of a book more important right now.

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