The Hot Zone Book AnalysisThe Hot Zone is a non-fiction book surrounding the horrors of Ebola. Richard Preston begins thenovel, In Africa, 1980, speaking about the Marburg virus, and how it ultimately led to the goryand brutal death of Charles Monet.
Preston continues, now talking about the initial Marburgoutbreak in Germany. The outbreak started at the vaccine factory in Marburg, Germany, hencethe namesake of the virus. In Sudan, the narrative continues, recounting the tale of Yu G, astorekeeper who contracted the brutal virus, eventually spreading to and throughout his village,and ultimately the general area. Medical clinics all over the country have now caused theoutbreak of strain Ebola Zaire, as well as Ngalemia Hospital, leading to the story of Mayinga, anurse who contracted the virus because of medical negligence at the facility. Shifting to theAmerican influence, Preston then focuses the story to scientists in the U.S, one being NancyJaax.
Her speciality in medicine led to Jaax taking part in the race to find a cure for Ebola. As thenovel begins to focus on the Ebola strain discovered by Jaax in the1980’s in the Reston, Virginiamonkey facility, it delves into the biological side of the research and findings of the strains,explaining the details of the virus. Nearing the end of the book, Preston then describes theSWAT mission to break into the monkey facility and euthanize them, as well as take samples,not without risk of exposure, though. Their findings concluded that the strain is extremely deadlyin the primates but is undetectable in humans. Finally, Preston recounts his experience in theorigin Hot Zone, where the Marburg was first contracted, in Kitum Caveat.Five passages in this book utilizing biological principles are : As seen on page 135 (pictured in back few pages), the book uses biological lingo tocommunicate the dangers of the virus.
“That many particles of airborne Ebola could easily hatchout of a single cell. A tiny amount of airborne Ebola could nuke a building full of people if it gotinto the air conditioning system.” (Preston, 135). This quote shows how deadly the virus isbecause of how contagious it is. This also portrays how effectively their DNA is transmitted toother beings, leading to an outbreak in a community. Another example of the addition of biology in the novel is on page 155, “It was notmultiplying or doing anything, since the monkey’s cells were dead. But if the agent touchedliving cells, Nancy’s cells, it would come alive and begin to amplify itself. In theory, it couldamplify itself around the world in the human species.
” (155, Preston). This passage shows againthe maliciousness of the virus and how it functions. Preston likely included this for thescare-factor, and the biology makes the reader realize that yes, this is reality even though it is notunlike a horror story.
It has real science to back up its existence. Preston again utilizes biology in page 156, “In biology, nothing is clear, everything istoo complicated, everything is a mess, and just when you think you understand something, youpeel off a layer and find deeper complications beneath.” (Preston, 156). This quotation sums upbiology as an incredible and complex science, and how important it is, albeit frightening.
In thisEbola case, biology is where the virus exists, in the miniscule cells and nuclei. Preston includedthis quote because it effectively portrays how complicated biology is, and the amount of workthat goes into researching strains, like Ebola. On page 160, I noticed an amusing mix of humor and biological principles “He restedthat day in a hut, and gave himself a transfusion of two bags of blood serum that supposedlycontained antibodies that might protect him from Ebola virus – he had carried the bags with him,chilled on ice, and now he hoped they would save his life.” (Preston, 160). This passage showsagain how paranoid doctors would be around their patients, and how careless accidents can ruin alife. The physician here poked himself with a needle that was previously in a woman who wassuspected to have Ebola.
The antibodies spoken here were a person’s blood who is immune tothe virus, which shows the resolution many believed would work in this time of panic. Lastly, Preston uses this obvious allusion to biology “That sloughing of the gut was aclass sign. The intestine was blitzed, completely full of uncoagulated, runny blood, and at thesame time the monkey had massive blood clotting in the intestinal muscles. The clotting had shutoff blood circulation to the gut, and the cells in the gut subsequently died” (Preston, 183). Thisparagraph gives graphic imagery of the insides of the monkey and how the virus was wreakinghavoc on the cells and internal organs of the animals.
The description of blood and tissueportrays how brutal the virus is to the primates. This was likely included for the shock value weall felt as we witnessed the bloody aftermath of the virus. It is also useful in giving the novelscientific credibility, as using less scientific words would lead to a large misconception as to howserious the damage is.This book impacted me because I remember a few years ago, that many people were in a panicover the Ebola outbreak in Africa, and that it was brought over by some travelers. The frenzy itsent people into was terrifying, and the topic of Ebola made me think of the time that it wassuspected someone in Humble, down the street from my old school contracted the virus. H1N1was also prevalent in my younger years, as both my cousin contracted it, and my childhoodfriend. They both lived, but had mild cases and thankfully caught it early because of the paniceveryone felt when they got sick around those times.
Epidemics such as these are scary to usbecause of how contagious they are. I believe College Board thought this book would be beneficial to Biology studentsbecause it is a useful application to biology and it is relatable and easy to comprehend. It is veryeffective in scaring the reader into fascination with viruses and how they are as powerful as theyare. I think this book is a great one for biology students because it is very easy to read but alsosomewhat in depth in biology without going over the reader’s head. It is very useful fro applyingand understanding concepts learned in AP Biology.
I liked this book a lot because of how interesting it was that the novel was almostsuspenseful, although it was non-fiction. The book kept me extremely interested as to how thevaccine would be found, if it would be, and how many lives the virus would take. The symptomsand results of the virus was a very scary thing to read, and it makes the reader very paranoidabout viruses, as we should be