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The Cobra Event (1977)

de Richard Preston

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1,567298,814 (3.76)48
The Cobra Event is set in motion one spring morning in New York City, when a seventeen-year-old student wakes up feeling vaguely ill. Hours later she is having violent seizures, blood is pouring out of her nose, and she has begun a hideous process of self-cannibalization. Soon, other gruesome deaths of a similar nature have been discovered, and the Centers for Disease Control sends a forensic pathologist to investigate. What she finds precipitates a federal crisis. The details of this story are fictional, but they are based on a scrupulously thorough inquiry into the history of biological weapons and their use by civilian and military terrorists. Richard Preston's sources include members of the FBI and the United States military, public health officials, intelligence officers in foreign governments, and scientists who have been involved in the testing of strategic bioweapons. The accounts of what they have seen and what they expect to happen are chilling. The Cobra Event is a dramatic, heart-stopping account of a very real threat, told with the skill and authority that made Preston's The Hot Zone an internationally acclaimed bestseller.… (més)
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It begins when a New York City teenager has a seizure in class and dies shortly after. CDC scientist Alice Austen is dispatched to observe the autopsy and try to determine if this is an infectious agent. She quickly determines that this is not an accident but an act of terrorism. A deranged, disgraced biotechnician is intent on releasing the deadly Cobra virus in New York, to kill as many “useless humans” as possible.

This is a great thriller, that kept me enthralled and turning pages as quickly as I could. I’d read Preston’s nonfiction bestsellers: The Hot Zone and The Demon In the Freezer, so I knew he had the research background to make this a very plausible scenario. Reading it in the era of COVID19 just makes it that much more frightening, and interesting. I loved the details on how the teams of scientists, public health officials and FBI agents worked to decipher the clues. ( )
  BookConcierge | Mar 28, 2021 |
By the time I finished this book, and remember it first came out in 1997, I am far more concerned with bioterrorism than anything North Korea is currently pulling with their missiles, or any other country's for that matter. ( )
  Eternal.Optimist | Aug 22, 2018 |
The technical information was fascinating, but it overshadowed the story. The characters were poorly developed and way too inhibited. I think Preston is a fine nonfiction writer, but not a fiction writer. ( )
  Deelightful | Sep 25, 2016 |
Richard Preston is best known for his nonfiction book The Hot Zone, a horrifying account of the Ebola virus, and other research based books. I was interested in reading his fiction book The Cobra Event. It is a chilling story about what a bioterrorist attack could look like today. Preston also has included in the story some of the history of bioweapons and information regarding bioengineering. If you want to be scared to death by a fiction book that is solidly grounded in fact and almost reads like nonfiction, The Cobra Event will fit that description.

The bioweapon used in Preston's The Cobra Event, is a genetically engineered viral brain pox being slowly "tested" on humans by one crazed man. After 2 suspicious deaths in NYC, the CDC sends Dr. Alice Austen to do the autopsy of a 17 year old girl who dies from this virus. The FBI is also called in and the search for what the virus is and who engineered it begins. There are several very vivid descriptions of autopsies and of the symptoms and ultimately the violent behavior the virus causes in humans (seizures, self cannibalism). This is a very gripping story because it is so based on real facts.

Ultimately, Richard Preston is a nonfiction writer and he writes like one. This isn't always bad, but it does mean that, for example, when describing his characters, he gives us just the facts. Do not expect lengthy descriptive passages that help develop well rounded characters. He gives us the basic information and then proceeds onto his fictionalized attack and real facts regarding bioweapons. His facts are gripping and the story certainly moves along, but The Cobra Event often reads like an nonfiction account of an event.
You'll never look at a runny nose the same way...
http://shetreadssoftly.blogspot.com/
( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
Read this one more than once, great book with a good twist at the ending.
Recently (2011-2013) the duo Preston/Child -series about Agent Pendergast took a turn I do not really appreciate with the Nazis. Being a German I that threat is all to real for me and I do not need them as villains in the fiction I read (with them being in the series from Rollins also and others).
This standalone novel is exceptionally good.
Page-turner, highly recommended.
Another book in the same genre, also highly recommended: [b:Quantico|214372|Quantico|Greg Bear|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1172766774s/214372.jpg|1430847]. ( )
  Ingo.Lembcke | Oct 27, 2015 |
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This book is dedicated to my brother
David G. Preston, M.D.,
and to
all public health professionals,
wherever they may be.
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Wikipedia en anglès (2)

The Cobra Event is set in motion one spring morning in New York City, when a seventeen-year-old student wakes up feeling vaguely ill. Hours later she is having violent seizures, blood is pouring out of her nose, and she has begun a hideous process of self-cannibalization. Soon, other gruesome deaths of a similar nature have been discovered, and the Centers for Disease Control sends a forensic pathologist to investigate. What she finds precipitates a federal crisis. The details of this story are fictional, but they are based on a scrupulously thorough inquiry into the history of biological weapons and their use by civilian and military terrorists. Richard Preston's sources include members of the FBI and the United States military, public health officials, intelligence officers in foreign governments, and scientists who have been involved in the testing of strategic bioweapons. The accounts of what they have seen and what they expect to happen are chilling. The Cobra Event is a dramatic, heart-stopping account of a very real threat, told with the skill and authority that made Preston's The Hot Zone an internationally acclaimed bestseller.

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