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A skilled U S journalist and author of the 1994 bestseller The Hot Zone, A Terrifying Real Story, Richard Preston’s imaginative abilities revolve around worrying disease epidemics and bio- terrorism. The research study by Preston for his 1992 New Yorker post, “Crisis in the Hot Zone” forms the basis of this non-fiction bio-thriller.
The Hot Zone delineates a dramatic, chilling and reasonable tale of an Ebola infection break out, which takes place in a monkey storage warehouse in a rural Washington D.
C. laboratory in 1989. In this lab, monkeys being utilized in clinical experiments rapidly sicken and die due to a filovirus. It informs about an explosive chain of lethal transmissions begins far from Washington, D.C. lab and enables the lab to end up being a ‘hot zone’. Preston goes on diligently about how these viruses work and the signs that appear in humans. He traces the history of these viruses from their discovery and analyzes their very first known index cases in detail.
He also delves deeply into tales of previous deadly outbreaks in Africa out of these filoviruses.
The Hot Zone employs a 4 fold structure. The first section of this non- fiction, “The Shadow of Mount Elgon” serves as the exposition of the story. It zeroes- in on the history of the infective representatives and speculation about the origin of HELP. The reader is introduced to the Marburg Infection, via people who have actually contracted it. This area narrates the story of Charles Monet who captured Marburg from Kitum Cavern in Central Africa.
It analyses in information the progress of the illness, from the initial headache and backache, to the last stage in which Monet’s internal organs bleed out and fail in Nairobi healthcare facility.
The second part of the book entitled “The Monkey House” depicts the discovery of Ebola Reston Virus among imported monkeys in Reston, Virginia. This also includes tidbits on what steps have actually been required to decontaminate the contaminated beings.
The third section, “Smashdown” serves as the climax of the story. Here, the major characters like Major Nancy Jaax, Colonel Jerry Jaax, Dan Dalgard, Gene Johnson, and Colonel C J Peters etc must encounter the virus face- to-face in the monkey house. Some hair- raising events are there during the destruction of animals, like an escape of one monkey and failures in the protective suits worn by personnel.
The fourth section, entitled “Kitum Cave”, signals the denouement of the story. Here Preston reflects on the origin and spread of AIDS. The Hot Zone highlights the impact of lethal viruses on human and animal population. The stars of the hot zone are these two viruses, Marburg and Ebola. These are considered to be ancient and their potential to eradicate huge masses is really high, as more and more humans encroach on the rain forest. There are well- establish cases in which Ebola and Marburg have been transmitted from captive monkeys to humans. Preston points out in The Hot Zone that these viruses have ‘jumped species’ from monkeys to humans at the time human activity is upsetting the habitat and survival of her primates. His first case history of
Charles Monet exemplifies this. Charles Monet, a French expatriate working in a sugar plantation in Kenya, becomes mysteriously ill after visiting Kitum Cave. He experiences head aches and back aches for several days before spiking a fever and vomits huge amounts of blood with black specks. Finally the virus, Marburg completely devours him. In 1989, Ebola traveled to Reston, Virginia in a shipment of a hundred crab eating monkeys from the Philippines, imported by Hazleton Research products for medical and pharmaceutical research. The final irony is that one version of Ebola turned out not to be toxic in humans. The author also creates an effectual atmosphere of fear by showing that doctors, who are almost always viewed as being heroic, can so easily contract this virus.
The Hot Zone is a Jurassic park with germs, not of dinosaurs. Here Preston constantly reminds of how tiny and how hazardous a virus is. The impact of Ebola or Marburg could destroy the entire planet if it got a grip. Within 24 hours, a virus could make its way out of Africa on a plane and into such places like London, Paris, or New York and then spread out to the rest of the world. The tiny HIV virus has already spread destruction throughout the human population of the globe, and this is a point the author drives home again and again. A very minute amount of contaminated blood is enough to infect a human with the Ebola virus, so those working in the Hot Zone must constantly be careful for the smallest little tear that might allow it into their space suits.
Preston makes an effort to draw attention to the AIDS epidemic in this bio –thriller. The HIV virus was in reality just making its way into the human population about the time that Charles Monet contracted Marburg. It appears that the origins of Marburg and HIV are almost similar. Both seem to have originated in African monkeys, and they undergo genetic change and ‘jump’ into human beings. C.J. Peters spends some time comparing AIDS and Ebola, as well. In the last section of the novel, the author explains the idea that as humans capture and destroy more and more of the rain forests, they may discharge many more unidentified viruses. It is as if the viruses act as the forests’ immune system, which is truly ironic since HIV and AIDS destroy the human immune system.
In the book, Preston emphasizes the potential of such a little beasts, that are only microns in size, to wipe out the human population of the planet. In fact, the strength and appeal of this book come from the fear evoked in the reader. The gruesome, horrific deaths of Charles Monet, Nurse Mayinga, and Peter Cardinal set the reader in tension and dread of what will happen if the virus at Reston jumps into the human population.
The majority of The Hot Zone is written from the third-person omniscient point of view. The author is not simply composing characters’ thoughts and emotions. This book recounts a true story, and Richard Preston interviewed many people to learn directly from those involved. Therefore, the reason the author is able to be omniscient is because he has taken great pains to be accurate in his telling of the tale.
If he describes someone’s internal reaction to an event, he is relating what that person told him. He is also careful to give credibility to everyone’s viewpoints in the cases where people have conflicting recollections of a sequence of events. There are a few places in which the point of view switches to first person. This is a result of the author’s reporting on his interviews with the various people engaged in the crisis at Reston, as well as those involved in earlier Ebola outbreaks. This serves to remind the reader that the story is not a piece of fiction, and it also allows the author to tell portions of the story in the participants’ own words.
There are multiple settings in the book because it spans a long period of time (1980 to 1993) and follows viruses all over the world. Much of the African portion of the story takes place in Kenya and Sudan, and the real centerpiece is Kitum Cave in Western Kenya. The story starts and ends there though under very different circumstances. On the international level, there are also references to the Marburg virus’ stint in Germany, and a monkey farm in the Philippines. Aside from these brief mentions, the true settings of the story are Africa and the United States. The fact that the potential Ebola outbreak is happening so near the capital of one of the most powerful nations on earth definitely adds to the tension of the story.
The language used in The Hot Zone is very explanatory. The novel could easily have been a litany of medical terms and acronyms. It is a factual story involving science, medicine, government, and military. The author is concerned with drawing the reader into the story. He wants to generate such a vivid picture that it is sporadically quite upsetting. Richard Preston’s capacity to write literature is also obvious. His use of imagery is very successful. By the time there is an outbreak in the monkey house, the reader has been thoroughly apprised of the terribly agonizing, fierce death that awaits anyone infected by the virus. Throughout the entire story, Preston amalgamates scientific perception with fictional writing.
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