Main theam of The Hot Zone by Richard Preston?

What is the main them of The Hot Zone by Richard Preston. I'm a little confused, and honestly don't know where to begin.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
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    Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone is an excellent nonfiction account of a deadly virus from the central rain forests of Africa that suddenly appears in the suburbs of Washington DC. The Virus is highly contagious and has no cure. This book describes many frightening encounters with this virus and the effects it has on the human body, getting more and more graphic as the book continues. It also attempts to explain where and why the viruses originated.

    From reading The Hot Zone one can interpret two main themes, the first of which involves the idea that the Ebola virus could spread very rapidly if airborne. In today’s society, with the worldwide use of airplanes, an airborne virus could travel from country to another in a matter of hours. Many of the outbreaks occurred as a result of infected people traveling to other areas and infecting people there. With the use of airplanes a virus such as an airborne strand of Ebola could destroy the world. Another major theme in this book is Preston’s idea that disease is nature’s defense. Preston says,

    . . .

    It was still a great book, but it would have been better had Preston interwoven his theme throughout the entire book. It was almost like he realized that he needed to have a reason for writing the book and tried to sum it up in the last 20 pages. The Hot Zone opens with a vivid telling of Charles Monet’s infection and how it eats away at his body. Perhaps the biosphere does not ‘like’ the idea of five billion humans.

    Preston believes that the horrible viruses are the earth’s way of punishing the human race for taking over and for preventing their future expanse. The earth’s immune system, so to speak, has recognized the presence of the human species and is starting to kick in. The earth is attempting to rid itself of an infection by the human parasite. The tone of the book becomes much more matter-of-fact, and much drier.

    For the most part The Hot Zone is a very interesting book. The organization could have been better.

    The last chapter of the book was also out of place. The rain forest has its own defenses. Or it could also be said that the extreme amplification of the human race, which has occurred only in the past hundred years or so, has suddenly produced a very large quantity of meat, which is sitting everywhere in the biosphere and may not be able to defend itself against a life form that might want to consume it.

  • Megan
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Yep, I like books about horrible diseases. First he gives a graphic description of the illness and death of a man with Marburg. It is very similar to ebola, with a slightly higher survival rate. The man finally collapsed in an airport waiting area, in a pool of vomited black blood. In the language of the medical people, he "crashed and bled out." Ebola and marburg are not spread by casual contact. But if you get stuck with a needle that was previously stuck into a person with ebola, or if an ebola patient vomits in your face, you are in trouble. He tells the story of a young woman in Africa who got ebola from (I think) a patient throwing up in her face. When she started getting sick, she should have suspected what it was, but she wandered all over town and was in contact with many people; she even shared a coke with at least one person, drinking from the same bottle. She died, but nobody caught ebola from her. He tells the story of a doctor who went to a village to treat ebola patients. The pilot of the tiny airplane probably would not have brought him if he had known. The dr. was shown into a hut full of sick people. He started to take blood samples. One of the patients thrashed, and the dr. got stabbed with the needle. He decided to go on working, he would know soon enough if he was infected. He lived. The patient didn' have ebola, but something else. In Reston, West Virginia, there was a company that imported monkeys for laboratory use. The monkeys were getting sick with a suspicious illness, and they sent a lab sample to a lab. The container broke. The lab worker wrote a note to the monkey place scolding them for not packing it properly. "Good thing it ain't marburg," he said. Then he tested it. It wasn't marburg. It was ebola! This led to all the animals in the lab being slaughtered and the place fumigated to such an extent that not one single microbe could have been left alive. The people who worked there or had any contact were blood-tested. Several tested positive for ebola. None of them ever got sick. Blood tests showed that, in time, ebola was no longer present. They got "well." Apparently it was a new strain of ebola that is asymptomatic in humans. Just lucky. The animal place started back into business. Some time later, they started getting sick monkeys again. They had the same ebola. This time nobody freaked out. They killed all the monkeys, and laws were passed preventing any more ebola monkeys from being imported, so that was good. This isn't really a summary, just some highlights I recall. I found this book fascinating. Some people say the author exaggerates the gruesomeness of the illnesses.

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