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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 (�).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.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Doug on 07-05-11

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, are other books out there.

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24 of 25 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Tom J. on 01-03-09

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!

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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