Richard Preston

Richard Preston

Richard Preston (b. August 5, 1954) is a "New Yorker" writer and bestselling author best-known for his alarming books about infectious disease epidemics and bioterrorism, although he has written other non-fiction works. Whether journalistic or fictional, his writings are based on thorough background research and extensive interviews. He is also the brother of best-selling author, Douglas Preston.

Preston's personal hobby of recreational tree climbing is introduced in his book (2007) "The Wild Trees". [Preston, Richard (2007), "The Wild Trees: A Story Of Passion And Daring". Allen Lane Publishers.] . This climbing experience helped him write about the largest known redwoods like Lost Monarch in the Grove of Titans, or Iluvatar, described in that book along with delicate forest canopy ecosystems.


Richard Preston attended Pomona College, in southern California, and received his Ph.D. in English from Princeton University.

His 1992 "New Yorker" article "Crisis in the Hot Zone" was expanded into his best known book, "The Hot Zone" (1994). It is a "non-fiction thriller" about the Ebola virus. He came to know the virus through such contacts as U.S. Army researchers Drs. C.J. Peters and Nancy Jaax. His fascination began during a visit to Africa where he was an eyewitness to epidemics.

Preston's novel "The Cobra Event" (1998), about the terroristic release of a fictional virus combining various qualities of different diseases upon New York City, alarmed even then-President Bill Clinton who, shortly after reading it, instigated a review of bio-terror threats to the U.S. The book strove to tell a fast-paced thriller narrative within the bounds of well-researched bio-terroristic possibility, and was reportedly pressed upon Clinton by a molecular biologist when he was attending a Renaissance Weekend event. [ [ Review] of "Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War", by Judith Miller, et al., in Washington Monthly, 2001] ]

"The Demon in the Freezer" (2002) covers the story of the eradication of smallpox, perhaps the most destructive virus to have plagued mankind. It details the survival of the virus in research labs and bio-weapon programs of Russia and other nations, despite its eradication in the human population. The narrative continues with Anthrax, a bacterial disease of cattle and humans, used in a failed attack against former Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

"The Hot Zone" served as the (very loose) basis of the Hollywood movie "Outbreak" (1995) about military machinations surrounding a fictional "Motaba virus".

"First Light", "American Steel" and "The Wild Trees" are non-fiction on completely different topics, addressing astrophysics, the steel industry and California Redwoods respectively.

He currently resides in Hopewell, NJ with 2 daughters and 1 son who is in the 2012 class of The Lawrenceville School.



*cite book | year = 1998 | title = The Cobra Event | publisher = Random House | location = New York | id = ISBN 0-679-45714-3
*cite book | year = 2003 | others = illus. George Henry Jennings | title = The Boat of Dreams: A Christmas Story | publisher = Simon & Schuster | location = New York | id = ISBN 0-7432-4592-X


*cite book | year = 1987 | title = First Light: The Search for the Edge of the Universe | publisher = Atlantic Monthly Press | location = New York | id = ISBN 0-87113-200-1
*cite book | year = 1991 | title = American Steel: Hot Metal Men and the Resurrection of the Rust Belt | publisher = Prentice Hall Press | location = New York | id = ISBN 0-13-029604-X
*cite book | year = 1994 | title = The Hot Zone | publisher = Random House | location = New York | id = ISBN 0-679-43094-6
*cite book | year = 2002 | title = The Demon in the Freezer | publisher = Random House | location = New York | id = ISBN 0-375-50856-2
*cite book | year = 2007 | title = The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring | publisher = Random House | location = New York | id = ISBN 978-1400064892
*cite book | year = 2008 | title = Panic in Level 4:Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science | publisher = Random House | location = New York | id = ISBN 978-1400064908


External links

* [ Official website]
* [ Video conversation with Preston] and Carl Zimmer on

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