Crisis in the Red Zone

JB Shreve
September 21, 2019 3 mins to read
Reading Time: 2 minutes

I finished the book, Crisis in the Red Zone, this week and was very surprised not only by how informative it was but how easy the reading was.

Crisis in the Red Zone – The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and the Outbreaks to Come by Richard Preston

If you follow the End of History blog, then you know I track the current Ebola outbreak in the DRC pretty closely. There is a strong possibility of this crisis spreading beyond the borders of DRC (to a small extent it already has). Currently, it is the second deadliest Ebola outbreak in history. The most deadly happened in 2014. I well remember that crisis at the time. The world was afraid that it would reach American and European borders or land in one of the major cities of Nigeria like Lagos. Reading this book, it was even more dangerous and those threats more real than I realized.

crisis in the red zone
2014 Ebola Outbreak

The real surprise in the book, however, is the way it is written. This isn’t a clinical report on the crisis (what I was expecting). It is written in a style that I can only compare to a spy novel. You get to know the people who were on the frontlines fighting this outbreak, including some of the relatively unknown characters who did not make it out of the crisis alive.

In the opening chapter, we see the discovery of Ebola. Then in 2011, we see the way by which the outbreak spread. The author also looks at how they finally contained the Ebola outbreak. The most frustrating aspect of the book is the role that bureaucracy and interagency protocols held up a test vaccine that proved very effective when it was finally used.

crisis in the red zone
Red Cross workers carry away the body of a person suspected of dying from the Ebola virus, in the Liberian capital Monrovia, on October 4, 2014. By far the most deadly epidemic of Ebola on record has spread into five west African countries since the start of the year, infecting more than 7,000 people and killing about half of them. AFP PHOTO / PASCAL GUYOT. (Photo credit should read PASCAL GUYOT/AFP/Getty Images)

More than 11,000 people were killed in the 2014 Ebola outbreak. If you were paying attention at the time you might remember how air traffic was affected and the fears of a global contagion were very present.

This is an excellent book that is easy to read and will give you a head start on understanding what is unfolding today.

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