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Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science | [Richard Preston]

Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science

Bizarre illnesses and plagues that kill people in the most unspeakable ways. Obsessive and inspired efforts by scientists to solve mysteries and save lives. From The Hot Zone to The Demon in the Freezer and beyond, Richard Preston's best selling works have mesmerized readers everywhere by showing them strange worlds of nature they never dreamed of.
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Publisher's Summary

Bizarre illnesses and plagues that kill people in the most unspeakable ways. Obsessive and inspired efforts by scientists to solve mysteries and save lives. From The Hot Zone to The Demon in the Freezer and beyond, Richard Preston's best selling works have mesmerized readers everywhere by showing them strange worlds of nature they never dreamed of.

Panic in Level 4 is a grand tour through the eerie and unforgettable universe of Richard Preston, filled with incredible characters and mysteries that refuse to leave one's mind. Here are dramatic true stories from this acclaimed and award-winning author, including:

  • The phenomenon of "self-cannibals", who suffer from a rare genetic condition caused by one wrong letter in their DNA that forces them to compulsively chew their own flesh - and why everyone may have a touch of this disease.
  • The search for the unknown host of Ebola virus, an organism hidden somewhere in African rain forests, where the disease finds its way into the human species, causing outbreaks of unparalleled horror.
  • The brilliant Russian brothers - "one mathematician divided between two bodies" - who built a supercomputer in their apartment from mail-order parts in an attempt to find hidden order in the number pi (Ï�).

    In fascinating, intimate, and exhilarating detail, Richard Preston portrays the frightening forces and constructive discoveries that are currently roiling and reordering our world, once again proving himself a master of the nonfiction narrative and, as noted in The Washington Post, "a science writer with an uncommon gift for turning complex biology into riveting page-turners".

    ©2008 Richard Preston; (P)2008 Random House, Inc.

  • What Members Say

    Average Customer Rating

    3.7 (162 )
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    3.8 (73 )
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    4.0 (72 )
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     (27)
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    3 star
     (17)
    2 star
     (2)
    1 star
     (1)
    Performance
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    •  
      Doug Austin, TX 07-05-11
      Doug Austin, TX 07-05-11 Listener Since 2003
      HELPFUL VOTES
      310
      ratings
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      46
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      "WAIT! Maybe this isn't what you think...."

      I wanted a book on killer viruses and deadly jungles. I wanted to be scared. When the book switches over to two Russian scientists trying to calculate pi, I waited for this to tie into viruses. Oops. This book is a collection of unrelated essays. One talks about the insects in trees, another about an ancient tapestry, and yet another discusses an odd kind of self-mutilating autism. Oh, and then there's the opening essay about viruses. I really think this book was designed to grab the Hot Zone audience and make us listen to other essays we wouldn't normally seek out. All the same, they were interesting and well written by a skilled journalist. Very interesting, but...eh....there are other books out there.

      13 of 14 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Tom J. 01-03-09
      Tom J. 01-03-09 Member Since 2003
      HELPFUL VOTES
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      "Marvelous Tales from the Trade"

      I have always founf myself transfixed by the works of Richard Preston. The Hot Zone and Demon in the Freezer scared me witless. This time, Mr. Preston has thrown some of his research data together into a type of short story format. Mr. Preston begins with the familiar Ebola virus and what he had to do to learn enough about it to write a book as frightening as Hot Zone. The he shifts gears and talks about two brothers and their obsession with the mystical number Pi. This is a wonderful tale of determination. From their you go on a journey in the woods of the Eastern US to discover how such very tiny insects and fungi are wiping out some of the largest trees in North America. Then there is the tale of how many became millionares while working on the human genome project, only to lose it all in only a few days. The last is my favorite. The tale of the Lesh-Nyhan syndrom. If you like reading about viral conditions, molecular studies, genetic mapping and very small numbers, give this book a listen. I find it well worth the time and the money. Thank you Mr. Preston!

      6 of 6 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Spencer Conider, CO, United States 09-26-08
      Spencer Conider, CO, United States 09-26-08 Member Since 2006
      HELPFUL VOTES
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      "A book about how he wrote a book, but boring."

      In the first half of this pretty bad book the author tells stories about how he actually wrote a good book, The Hot Zone. It is like one of those "The Making Of ______" movies where all the actors tell you how they knew right away the movie would be a huge success. Those movies about making movies are boring. Imagine how much more boring it would be in book form. The title is misleading because the majority of the book has nothing to do with what is in the title. The author is obviously in a slump or in need of money as the quality here is way below what he has done in the past.

      9 of 10 people found this review helpful
    •  
      moe 02-07-10
      moe 02-07-10 Member Since 2007
      HELPFUL VOTES
      3
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      5
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      "Where's the panic?"

      If you're looking for a dangerous situation where life threatening things happen, this is not the book for you. I was ready for an adventure into the unknown but feel like I was at a very boring seminar about nothing relevant. When it was over I felt like I deserved a medal for listening, save your credits for something good.

      2 of 2 people found this review helpful
    •  
      JoAnn Marcon 11-13-08 Member Since 2001
      HELPFUL VOTES
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      "Needs to be shorter"

      First of all, several of these stories have been in the New Yorker already, so if you read The New Yorker, you may be disappointed that the stories are not new. I agree with the other reader reviewers that all the stories go on far too long and I lost interest with all the detail.

      4 of 5 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Rebecca 08-26-12
      Rebecca 08-26-12 Member Since 2012
      HELPFUL VOTES
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      "Not what I was expecting"
      What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

      I love Richard Preston's full length books, but I didn't realize that this was several different short-stories.


      1 of 1 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Dennis Arlington, VT, United States 07-23-12
      Dennis Arlington, VT, United States 07-23-12 Member Since 2008
      HELPFUL VOTES
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      "Interesting in parts"

      I really like the way Preston writes and researches his material, but there were some parts of this book that I fast forwarded through. He has much better books than this here - please look for them, they are worth a listen over this choice.

      1 of 1 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Barry J.H. Groenewald Milan, Italy 12-26-11
      Barry J.H. Groenewald Milan, Italy 12-26-11 Member Since 2008
      HELPFUL VOTES
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      "Boring, with wrong title"
      What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

      The real world of Viruses is immense and awesome, much wider selection, and less


      What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

      Boring


      Any additional comments?

      Would have loved a way to exchange this book for anything else

      3 of 4 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Rachel United States 12-26-11
      Rachel United States 12-26-11 Member Since 2011
      HELPFUL VOTES
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      "Boring"
      What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

      By deleting the long introduction where the author tells you for 2 hours what he is going to tell you later in the book or what he has already told you in other books or articles.


      What could Richard Preston have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

      Just present the interesting science, don't tell the audience how you gather information and how you will tell us all about it in upcoming chapters. Also multiple chapters on Pi is way too many


      What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

      Disappointment


      Any additional comments?

      Yes, I felt used by buying this book.

      2 of 3 people found this review helpful
    •  
      B Daigle Louisiana 07-29-11
      B Daigle Louisiana 07-29-11 Member Since 2006
      HELPFUL VOTES
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      "I like Preston's other works, but..."

      I could not get through the first hour of this book. Maybe it is different further on, but this is not at all like The Hot Zone or Demon in the Freezer. This book is about Preston writing those other books. It is basically a trip down memory lane for him, with loads of tips for aspiring authors. Perhaps it gets better, but I could not finish it.

      2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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