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

Richard Preston. Random House, $28 (391p) ISBN 978-0-812998-83-2
Preston follows up his 1994 book The Hot Zone with another terrifying real-life thriller about the threat of viruses—in this case, Ebola. He leavens the subject’s essential grimness with inspiring portrayals of men and women who risked, and sometimes lost, their lives battling the virus’s resurgence in West Africa in 2013 and 2014. They include Lisa Hensley, an American researcher and single mother who chooses to travel to Africa to offer what help she can, and Humarr Khan, a physician who, even before the Ebola outbreak, had already decided to stay in his native Sierra Leone and fight Lassa, another virus endemic in West Africa, rather than pursue a lucrative American career. Along with character sketches, Preston delves into the moral complexities that can arise in disease research, in this case when an apparent miracle cure—dubbed wow “because everybody was typing Wow in their emails”—yields amazing results in monkeys and the researchers must decide whether to experiment with its efficacy for humans. His concluding sections establish why this story remains relevant, as the Ebola outbreak is a cautionary tale of what could happen if a similar mutated supervirus reached cities. This nonfiction page-turner will both educate and scare readers. (July)
Reviewed on : 06/10/2019
Release date: 07/23/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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