Richard Preston’s critically and commercially acclaimed books have cemented his status as a first-rate investigative journalist and gifted storyteller, as well as put him in the forefront of the emerging diseases and biotechnology arenas. Preston first took the world by storm with The Hot Zone, the international best-seller that introduced the world to the threat of Ebola and other rain forest viruses. Spending 42 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list, The Hot Zone inspired several fictional adaptations (including the hit film “Outbreak” starring Dustin Hoffman and Renee Russo) and has been translated into over 30 languages.
In The Cobra Event, also a bestseller, Preston turned his attention to the very real threat of biological terrorism. Although his tale unfolds as fiction, it is backed by nearly three years of in-depth research at the highest levels of American and international intelligence, including the FBI, the Pentagon, the Centers for Disease Control, intelligence officers in foreign governments and scientists who have been involved in the development and testing of strategic bioweapons.
The Demon in the Freezer takes us back into the hot zone, delving with unprecedented detail into the government’s response to the anthrax attacks of October 2001–the first major bioterror event in the U.S. and the second largest investigation in FBI history. With devastating clarity, Preston shows what is at stake for the scientists fighting to stay one step ahead of the new disease, and what it could mean for all of us.
Preston’s The Wild Trees, is an account of scientific and spiritual passion for the tallest trees in the world, the coast redwood trees, Sequoia sempervirens. He expertly explores the startling biosystem of “the canopy” and shares the story of those who are committed to the preservation of this astonishing and largely unknown world.
Most recently, Preston co-authored Michael Crichton’s latest technological thriller, Micro, about a biotech company in Hawaii and graduate students who end up stranded in a rain forest. Preston used Crichton’s personal reference material, outline and notes to finish the novel as Crichton only completed about one-third of it before he passed away from cancer in 2008. Micro released in November, 2011.
Whether delivering a grim account of what biological terrorism is capable of, sharing the inside story of how scientists are finding ways of protecting civilian populations, or revealing the dangerous and hauntingly beautiful lost world above the canopy, Preston shows audiences the world in a slightly different light than ever seen before.
At A Glance: In addition to these and other novels, Preston is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and is a recipient of the American Institute of Physics Award, the AAAS-Westinghouse Award and the McDermott Award in the Arts from MIT. He is the only non-physician to have received the Champion of Prevention Award from the Centers for Disease Control.
As a result of his work and scientific contributions, an asteroid has been named “Preston,” which may someday collide with Mars, causing an explosion visible throughout the solar system.
Richard Preston lives outside NYC with his wife and children. He climbs trees with them for fun.