The Hot Zone

The Critical Review of the Style and Narration of The Hot Zone

December 10, 2020 by Essay Writer

“Style Critique on The Hot Zone”

“Lassa is a Level 4 virus from West Africa, and it was one of Peter Jahrling’s favorite life forms-he thought it was fascinating and beautiful, in certain ways. He had held in his gloved hands virtually every hot agent known, except for Ebola and Marburg. When people asked him why he didn’t work with them, he replied, “I don’t particularly feel like dying.”

Richard Preston traces the known paths of Ebola and Marburg in The Hot Zone. He tells of their discovery, effects, and the outbreaks. Level 4 scientists for the Army, the CDC, and several civilian scientists track down the viruses in order to conduct tests and find the secret hiding place of the viruses. The height of the story occurs when Ebola Zaire is discovered in a monkey house near Washington, D.C. and the Army has to decontaminate the entire facility. Luckily, the airborne strain only affected monkeys and didn’t infect humans. Preston concludes with his own trip to Africa to look at a possible reservoir of the viruses.

Preston’s style is sensational journalism. He uses graphic detail when describing the effects of the viruses to make it sensational. Doctors would be brief and scientific in their reports on the symptoms. Preston description’s are not brief and are graphic. ” His face lost all appearance of life and set itself into and expressionless make…the eyeballs themselves seemed almost frozen in their sockets, and they turned bright red. He began to look like a zombie…and then you see that his lips are smeared with something slippery and red, mixed with black specks, as if he has been chewing coffee grounds. …. He is going into shock. He leans over, head on his knees, and brings up an incredible quantity of blood from his stomach and spills it onto the floor with a gasping groan. The only sound is a choking in his throat as he continues to vomit while unconscious. Then comes a sound like a bedsheet being torn in half, which is the sound of his bowels opening and venting blood. The blood is mixed with intestinal lining.” No doctor would ever describe the effects like Preston did. He is graphic to make it more interesting and exciting. He “spices” it up to attract and draw the attention of the reader, to get his point across.

Preston occasionally adds the character’s thoughts as they recalled them during their interviews with him. Preston states that ” if you ask a person, “What were you thinking?” you may get an answer that is richer and more revealing of the human condition that any stream of thoughts a novelist could invent.” He’s right; fact is stranger than fiction. ” Aw, crap! They’ll put me into the Slammer. And Tony will be filling out accident reports while I’m breaking with Ebola. And a week later, I’ll be in the Submarine. Shit! Jerry’s in Texas. And I didn’t go to the bank today. There’s no money in the house. The kids are home with Mrs. Trapane, and she needs to be paid. I didn’t go the market today. There’s no food in the house. How are the kids going to eat if I’m in the Slammer?” Preston used their thoughts to make it more realistic and to give the human perspective. Their thoughts showed that some were “*censored* scared” and didn’t want to touch it while others were fascinated with the virus and wanted to work in Level 4.

Preston tries to develop the characters, make them more reals. He gives background information, physical description, and occasionally talks about some personal habits or what others thought of them. “Some of the officers at Fort Detrick had noticed a certain abrupt quality in her hand motions and had accused her of having hands that were “too quick” to handle delicate work in dangerous situations. Nancy had begun martial-arts training partly because she hoped to make her gestures cool and smooth and powerful, and also because she had felt the frustrations of a woman officer trying to advance her career in the Army.” Preston’s outline of the characters makes it easier to understand their actions and why they were involved with the viruses. It makes them more of a human, not just a character in some story.

The story narrated by Preston. He is the omniscient narrator; he comments and acts like he knows their thoughts. “First Nancy inspected the monkey, looking through the bars. It was a large male, and he looked as if her was really dead. She saw that he still had his canine fangs, and that made her nervous.” Periodically he tells about his interviews in the 1st person, “Are you worried about a species-threatening event?” He stared at me. “What the hell do you mean by that?” “I mean a virus that wipes us out.” The final chapter, when he visits Kitum Cave in Africa, is also told in the 1st person. Preston uses the 1st person to make it more personal. He also uses it at the end in order to portray his feelings toward the subject.

” Ebola had risen in these rooms, flashed its colors, fed, and subsided into the forest. It will be back.”

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Literary Analysis of The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

December 10, 2020 by Essay Writer

The Hot Zone


The setting g takes place in two major places. Reston Maryland which is a suburb of Washington DC. and the second major area is in Kenya Africa. The story takes place in the 1980’s.

Main Characters:

Since this story is a true story there is no one character that is a main character. The author does not create the story around any one main character so I’ll just list every character I can remember from the book.

  1. Charles Monet: He was the first host to the deadly ebola virus breakout in Africa. He was 56 years old and was kind of a loner according to the authors interviews with people.
  2. Dr. Mosoke: He was Charles Monets doctor when Charles crashed and bled out which means when the host suddenly starts bleeding infectious blood out of every orifice in the body.
  3. Nancy Jaax: She was a veterinary pathologist at a military fort in Maryland..
  4. Jerry Jaax: He was a veterinarian and husband to Nancy Jaax.
  5. Peter Jahrling: He was a disease expert at Fort Detrick
  6. Gene Johnson: He was in charge of the Reston operation. He also was the discoverer of Ebola Sudan.
  7. Nun: The Nun’s name was unknown but she had the very first recorded case of Ebola Zaire which is the most dangerous of the three strains.


This is a true story. On New Year’s Day 1980 a man named Charles Monet went on a trip with a girl friend of his up to Mnt. Elgon in West Kenya. They spent the night there and went to a large cave there called Kitcum cave. After his trip to Kitcum cave he went home and three days later had a huge headache that wouldn’t go away. That is the first symptom of this deadly disease. A few days later he went to the doctors and they told him he should go to a bigger hospital in Nairobi. Charles caught a flight to Nairobi an the ninth day after his visit to kitcum cave. All through the flight to Nairobi he was throwing up blood mixed with a black liquid. When he got to the hospital he sat down and waited to be served. Then his spine went limp and nerveless and he lost all sense of balance. he started going into shock. He then started throwing up an incredible amount of blood from his stomach and spilt it on to the floor. The people who were there said the only sound was the choking in his throat from his constant vomiting while he is unconscious. Then came the sound of bed sheets being torn in half which is the sound of his bowels opening up and venting blood from the anus. The blood is mixed with intestinal lining. His gut is sloughed. The linings of his intestines come off and were being expelled from his body along with huge amounts of blood. This dying process which happens to nine out of ten people who come in contact with the deadly disease is called crashing and bleeding. Samples of his blood were flown to all the major disease labs in the world. The disease was a Marburg Strain.

In Sudan the same types of deaths were wiping out whole tribes. So Gene Johnson flew over there and worked with sick members of the tribes to try and find a cure. This strain of Marburg was called Ebola Sudan for were it was found. Later in Zaire there was an out post of missionaries who would give vaccine shots and penicillin to local tribes. One of the nuns there became sick with a similar disease. She died and her blood was sent to disease labs all over the world. The strain was called Ebola Zaire since it was discovered in Zaire.

In Reston Maryland there was a monkey house that would ship monkeys all over the US. to labs for medical experiments. Suddenly all the monkeys started dying in one room. Tom Jahrling from fort Detrick came down and took a look at the monkeys and took some samples. He took back and he and Tom Geisbert looked at it and thought it was just a small monkey virus and try smelled it which is a way to tell what something was. They couldn’t tell what it was so they looked at it under a electron microscope and it looked allot like Marburg. They were scared because they had smelled the container of the marburg. They didn’t tell anyone that they had been exposed.

The Military and the C.D.C. (Center for Disease Control) sealed off the whole building and Nancy Jaax and Jerry Jaax led squads of people inside the building wearing space suits. Two people while working inside the building were cut and their space suits were torn which means they were exposed to the virus. They found out that the virus they were working with was a close relative to Ebola Zaire. They killed all the monkeys in the building and locks their corpses up because they were predicting that if the virus got out it would total the human population. It would be like another Black Plague, but the Black Plague only killed 50% of those infected while this killed 90%. They put a special chemical in the building and let it sit four three days. After the tree days nothing was alive in the entire building not even a tiny microscopic virus could live. But four people had been exposed to the virus and surprisingly they all lived they later realized that the virus must have mutated so it would not harm humans but if it mutated again and could effect humans it would be devastating. This new virus was called Ebola Reston.


I thought the book was really scary. It was scary to see that there are diseases that could completely wipe us out and that we got really lucky at Reston. I thought the book was also very educating. From a scale of one to ten I give it a ten because the author uses great detail. for instance when the author tells the effects of the disease.

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The Critical Overview of Ebola’s Viral Strains based on The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

December 10, 2020 by Essay Writer

Quiet and undetected like a ninja, a virus can quickly attack. Richard Preston describes the stealth behaviors of the different viral strains of Ebola and its development in the non-fiction novel, The Hot Zone. The Hot Zone explains the outbreak of the Ebola virus, demonstrating the danger of exposure to this virus. Several outbreaks and deaths are described in the novel, but through all Preston’s research and writing on the book, he has learned how to keep himself safe during his explorations. Viruses are spread from the lack of resources such as clean medical supplies, funding, and a general lack of medical treatment knowledge.

In the novel, The Hot Zone, the Ebola virus was first discovered in Africa. It was a new type of virus that was unknown to the people there. When the virus started to infect patients in the hospital, it was not only because of the virus itself that caused it, but it was also the lack of clean medical supplies. When nuns were giving patients injections for protection from the Ebola virus, Preston described, “There were five needles a day to give injections to patients” (Preston 102). The nuns at the hospital were reusing dirty needles for hundreds of patients, and as a result, caused an Ebola outbreak. To clarify, when reusing dirty needles it is very dangerous because infected patients can leave behind minuscule traces of infected tissue, which then can be injected into healthy patients’ bloodstreams, therefore making them sick. For this reason, when there is a lack of clean medical supplies the possibility of a virus outbreak is high-risk.

Furthermore, a virus outbreak can arise effortlessly due to no money or an inadequate amount. Poor countries such as Guinea and Liberia, has a bad health infrastructure and young adults with little or none education. According to, “Road systems, transportation services, and telecommunication are weak. These weaknesses greatly delayed the transportation of the patient to treatment centres and samples to laboratories”. With no money to build a hospital, school, or transportation system, the likelihood of a virus spreading is more prone to occur. Compare to other countries that has a lot of money, people have less risk of dying or getting infected because they have educated doctors, special medicine, and good transportation system. Therefore, with no funding to stop the spread of a virus, it is likely for it to continue to infect others.

There are countless ways that a virus outbreak can occur, and another reason why is the lack of knowledge. Western African countries, which had never experienced an Ebola outbreak, were poorly prepared for this unexpected disease at every level. stated, “…early detection of the first cases to orchestrating an appropriate response. Clinicians had never managed cases. No laboratory had ever diagnosed a patient specimen. No government had ever witnessed the social and economic upheaval that can accompany an outbreak of this disease. Populations could not understand what hit them or why”. With no information about a new virus breakout, doctors do not know the symptoms of the virus as well as finding a vaccine for it. Because of this, the virus can spread even much faster to patients, family, and friends because they don’t know how to keep themselves safe as well as keeping it from spreading. In addition, presented, “When patients were taken to treatment or transit centres, anxious families often received little information about the patient’s condition, outcome, or even the place of burial”. This article expresses that with no knowledge of the virus, there are no treatments for it and doctors can’t do anything to help the patients. When there is no cure for a virus, victims often have shorter life spans so they die much faster. In brief, information and knowledge are very critical when a virus breaks out. Without an important pieces of information, countless people will fall victim to the virus.

In summary, there are many factors that will lead to a virus outbreak such as, lack of resources which includes clean medical supplies, no funding, and a lack of general medical treatment knowledge. These examples demonstrated different types of situations that would emerge when a virus breaks out. There are many ways to prevent a virus from spreading as well as many other factors that contribute it to infect people. With this in mind with enough resources and knowledge about medical treatment, a virus outbreak can be prevented.

Though Miss Brill and Granny Weatherall seem to lead absolute different lives they are both very observant women. Miss Brill was quite observant on her Sunday afternoons in the park. She sat in her “special” seat and observe everything and everyone. She could notice any slight change from last Sundays afternoon. “Wasn’t the conductor wearing a new coat, too?” (Mansfield, 101).

Granny Weatherall is in touch with reality while Miss Brill fantasizes up a life on her Sunday afternoons to forget about everything else. Miss Brill is lonely while Granny Weatherall is overwhelmed with company. One main characteristic the two protagonists have in common is their observant eye. Ultimately Miss Brill and Granny Weatherall have more differences then similarities.

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