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The Hot Zone Review

The Hot Zone Review - Christie Strawser Book Review#1...

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Christie Strawser Date Due: 5/6/2008 Book Review #1 Date Submitted: 5/6/2008 Earth’s Defense If I wouldn’t have been warned that the book I was reading was nonfiction, I would’ve thought it to be a very interesting scenario with a rather non-climatic ending. However, this story involved real people and a real threat that lingers among us every day. “In a sense, the earth is mounting an immune response against the human species. It is beginning to react to the human parasite, the flooding infection of people, the dead spots of concrete all over the planet, the cancerous rot-outs in Europe, Japan, and the United States, thick with replicating primates, the colonies enlarging and spreading and threatening to shock the biosphere with mass extinctions. Perhaps the biosphere does not ‘like’ the idea of five billion humans…Nature has interesting ways of balancing itself (287).” This is a story of just exactly how Nature might do just that. The book entitled The Hot Zone by Richard Preston begins on Mount Elgon in North Central Africa. Charles Monet was a man who lived alone. He moved to Africa in the summer of 1979, around the same time that HIV had begun to emerge from the rainforests in the area. The author never discovered why exactly he had decided to live in Africa. He was a “good-looking man” and fifty-six years old. He worked at the local sugar factory operating water-pumping machinery. He didn’t interact much with very many people, except for prostitutes who lived in “towns around the mountains,” and his housekeeper, named Johnnie. I call the other women prostitutes because of a statement made on page 5… “He gave money to his women friends, and they, in return, were happy to love him.” Preston calls Monet an “amateur naturalist, fond of birds and animals of the country (3).” Those who knew him said he was affectionate with the wild monkeys and often fed the wild animals and sat perfectly still to observe them while they ate. Charles Monet was teaching himself to identify African birds, even bringing a sick one into his house, where it later died. Preston speculates that it may have died of a Level 4 virus, but
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acknowledges that no one will ever know that for sure. Charles Monet also had a friendship with a pied crow, which was friendly, intelligent, and liked to perch on the roof of Monet’s bungalow. It would walk right inside his home when it was hungry and Monet would feed the bird from the table. During his Christmas vacation, Monet decided to take a camping trip to Mount Elgon, which is beautifully described throughout the book. Mount Elgon was about 25 miles form where he lived and visible from the field through which he walked every day to work. No one remembered the name of the woman who he asked to go with him on his trip. They traveled all the way up the volcano. “Mount Elgon straddles the border between Uganda and Kenya and is not far from Sudan. The mountain is a biological island of rain forest in the center of Africa, an
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