Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone" provides information about the history of the Ebola virus and other similar viruses. It includes the story of a man who caught the Marburg virus, and discusses actions taken to control and contain viruses. The book has four sections: "The Shadow of Mount Elgon," "The Monkey House," "Smashdown" and "Kitum Cave."
"The Shadow of Mount Elgon" has information about the history of certain viruses. It also follows a man, called Charles Monet in the book, who visited Kitum Cave, located on Kenya's Mount Elgon. He caught the Marburg virus and eventually died from it. A physician treating him also caught the virus. Preston goes into extensive detail regarding the symptoms of the virus.
"The Monkey House" focuses on the Reston virus, including its discovery amongst certain monkeys, and attempts to control the virus. "Smashdown" contains more information about this virus, including scientists' discovery that it doesn't harm humans.
In "Kitsum Cave," the author travels to Africa and reflects on AIDS. He puts on a Hazmat suit to visit Kitum Cave.
"The Hot Zone" was successful commercially and critically, becoming a best seller and receiving many positive reviews. However, it received criticism for an inaccurate and misleading portrayal of certain events, such as symptoms of viruses and the Center for Disease Control's actions.