Crisis in the Red Zone

The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come
Narrated by: Ray Porter
Length: 13 hrs and 2 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (264 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER

The 2013-2014 Ebola epidemic was the deadliest ever - but the outbreaks continue. Now comes a gripping account of the doctors and scientists fighting to protect us, an urgent wake-up call about the future of emerging viruses - from the number-one best-selling author of The Hot Zone, now a National Geographic original miniseries.

This time, Ebola started with a two-year-old child who likely had contact with a wild creature and whose entire family quickly fell ill and died. The ensuing global drama activated health professionals in North America, Europe, and Africa in a desperate race against time to contain the viral wildfire. By the end - as the virus mutated into its deadliest form, and spread farther and faster than ever before - 30,000 people would be infected, and the dead would be spread across eight countries on three continents.

In this taut and suspenseful medical drama, Richard Preston deeply chronicles the outbreak, in which we saw for the first time the specter of Ebola jumping continents, crossing the Atlantic, and infecting people in America. Rich in characters and conflict - physical, emotional, and ethical - Crisis in the Red Zone is an immersion in one of the great public health calamities of our time.

Preston writes of doctors and nurses in the field putting their own lives on the line, of government bureaucrats and NGO administrators moving, often fitfully, to try to contain the outbreak, and of pharmaceutical companies racing to develop drugs to combat the virus. He also explores the charged ethical dilemma over who should and did receive the rare doses of an experimental treatment when they became available at the peak of the disaster.

Crisis in the Red Zone makes clear that the outbreak of 2013-2014 is a harbinger of further, more severe outbreaks, and of emerging viruses heretofore unimagined - in any country, on any continent. In our ever more interconnected world, with roads and towns cut deep into the jungles of equatorial Africa, viruses both familiar and undiscovered are being unleashed into more densely populated areas than ever before.  

The more we discover about the virosphere, the more we realize its deadly potential. Crisis in the Red Zone is an exquisitely timely book, a stark warning of viral outbreaks to come.

©2019 Richard Preston (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Richard Preston’s red zone - beset by ethical, medical, and epidemiological quandaries—shows us at our worst and at our best. This is a story about people, not pathogens, but, even as Preston focuses on one group of clinicians, nurses, and scientists at an underresourced hospital in West Africa, he makes devastatingly clear the worldwide fragility of our public-health systems. Global inequities have epidemiological consequences. This chronicle is haunting, yet not without hope. In spare, gripping prose, he illuminates how our interlinked age can make for enormous vulnerability - but also resilience.” (Kwame Anthony Appiah, professor of philosophy and law, New York University)

Crisis in the Red Zone reads like a thriller. That the story it tells is all true makes it all more terrifying, and there’s no one who could tell it better than Richard Preston.” (Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Much thriller, not so much science

I get it - this is not a molecular biology textbook. Still, being a physician, I couldn't help but cringe at some of the descriptions that the author gave when it came to details of the viruses and diseases. Usually it was not plainly wrong but in some places it certainly bordered on actually being incorrect. And while some technical details may not be all that relevant to a popular science audience, some of them actually are in my view. After all, this is a topic that could well be relevant to a large proportion of humanity in the coming decades and it wouldn't hurt to get a clearer understanding of the particulars - this book, sadly, often sacrifices that aspect in favor of shiny/terrifying catchphrases. It is decent storytelling but I wouldn't recommend it to someone who actually wants to get a slightly more profound understanding of what happened and what might be about to happen some day. It's certainly not a terrible title but there are a number of popular science books which do a better job - solid and thorough scientific information and gripping storytelling are not mutually exclusive, there's many books out there who manage that (not necessarily on that particular subject but the general point stands). To summarize, I was a bit disappointed, I have to say - feels like a missed opportunity.

19 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Informative sequel to The Hot Zone

The author weaves this story through intricate battles whether waged at a cellular, bureaucratic or personal level. The story is gripping and reminds of our precarious and evolutionary dance with viruses.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Must read for anyone interested in public health

Even knowing some of the details ahead of time, I was mesmerized by this well told account of the 2014 Ebola crisis. Thought provoking is so many ways. Science explained thoroughly and with the right amount of detail without being overwhelming.

2 people found this helpful

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Essential Ebola Update

Richard Preston is possibly my favorite nonfiction writer. Ray Porter is an excellent narrator.
I’ve been waiting for an in-depth story about the 2014 Ebola tragedy. Preston does not disappoint. Instead of a comprehensive view of the outbreak, he follows key women and men at the center of the event. His description of the outbreak and how responders quickly became overwhelmed and then sick themselves reads like a novel. The story of the spread of Ebola in West Africa should be used to inform and set protocols for future, inevitable emerging viruses.

2 people found this helpful

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Good

The description can turn your stomach and it is a little more intense than Hot Zone.

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Gory - beware of you are faint

As a woman who fainted once from her own heavy flow, and while reading about the Lasik procedure she would later have, beware. On recommendation by a coworker I downloaded this with much interest, as a followed the epidemic of 2014 closely. However, I couldn’t get through the prologue without nearly fainting. I had to lie down and listen to calming sounds to chill. I know I sound like a freak, but my coworkers are obviously familiar w me and gave me no heads up, so thought I’d pass the info along.

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The story of Ebola and why we should care.

This book tracés the history of the West African Ebola outbreak, the worst in history. It’s incredibly detail oriented and puts together a smooth flowing account of extremely chaotic events. I have been to Sierra Leone several times since the epidemic and my only complaint about the narration is that the town where Doctors Without Borders set up their treatment center is pronounced “K-eye lown”, rhyming with town and not rhyming with loon as the narrator pronounced it. Other than that he does a fantastic job! I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in Ebola, West Africa and fighting deadly viral diseases.

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Slightly dry but still good

The actual story was very interesting but the narrator had a pretty deadpan voice. I understand there was need to convey seriousness but it felt very dry at times.

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Important subject but difficult to follow at times

There were too many time jumps that I found confusing and a lot of names/story threads which were hard to follow listening to this book using audible.
Summary: lots of good people died, more than half the infected died, the virus is a wet virus that is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids, there is an experimental treatment that is not readily available for the poor/black Africans, and the US is hoarding one dose for the president. The US has only 500 hospital beds capable of treating this disease were it to get loose in a major US city. Make sure you have one month’s food and water at your home in case an outbreak happens here. Don’t touch people who are projectile vomiting.

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scary as hell, pulled me along wanting more

loved it if you can say terror is your thing. The author found a way to tell a portion of what hell can look like.