World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Richard Preston

Richard Preston (born August 5, 1954) is a New Yorker writer and bestselling author who has written books about infectious disease, bioterrorism, redwoods and other subjects, as well as fiction. Whether journalistic or fictional, his writings are based on extensive background research and interviews.


  • Biography 1
  • Bibliography 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Preston was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He graduated Wellesley High School in Massachusetts in 1972 and attended Pomona College in Claremont, California.

His 1992 New Yorker article "Crisis in the Hot Zone" was expanded into his breakout book, The Hot Zone (1994). It is classified as 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. The book served as the (very loose) basis of the Hollywood movie Outbreak (1995) about military machinations surrounding a fictional "Motaba virus".

Preston's novel The Cobra Event (1998), about a terrorism 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.[1] The book strove to tell a fast-paced thriller narrative within the bounds of well-researched bio-terrorism possibility, and was reportedly pressed upon Clinton by a molecular biologist when he was attending a Renaissance Weekend event.[2]

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.

First Light and American Steel are non-fiction books addressing astrophysics and the steel industry. Preston was sued for the inflammatory and crude portrayal of Fritz Zwicky in First Light.

Preston's personal hobby of recreational tree climbing is introduced in The Wild Trees (2007).[3] His climbing experience likely led him to 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.

Preston's Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science is a collection of essays related to his experiences researching his previous books.

In November 2009, Preston was selected by Harper-Collins and the Michael Crichton estate to complete his unfinished novel Micro after Crichton's death in November 2008. The book was released on November 22, 2011. Approximately a third of Micro was completed by Crichton. Preston completed the book according to the author's remaining outline, notes, and research.[4]

Preston resides in Hopewell, New Jersey with his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters and one son.[5] He is also the brother of best-selling author Douglas Preston.




  • 1998 —  
  • 2003 — The Boat of Dreams: A Christmas Story. illus. George Henry Jennings. New York: Simon & Schuster.  
  • 2011 —  


  • 1987 — ISBN 9780871132000; OCLC 16004290  
  • 1991 — American Steel: Hot Metal Men and the Resurrection of the Rust Belt. New York: Prentice Hall Press.  
  • 1994 —  
  • 2002 —  
  • 2007 —  
  • 2008 — Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science. New York: Random House.  


  • Preston, Richard (December 3, 2012). "The Talk of the Town: Gone South: Flight of the Dragonflies".  


  1. ^ Judith Miller and William J. Broad (April 26, 1998). "EXERCISE FINDS U.S. UNABLE TO HANDLE GERM WAR THREAT".  
  2. ^ Review of Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War, by Judith Miller, et al., in Washington Monthly, 2001
  3. ^ Preston, Richard (2007), The Wild Trees: A Story Of Passion And Daring. Allen Lane Publishers.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Donahue, Deirdre. "Richard Preston will press your buttons in 'Panic in Level 4'", USA Today, June 16, 2008. Accessed February 15, 2011. "Author Richard Preston at the 75-acre farm where he lives in Hopewell, N.J."

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.