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Virus Hunter: Thirty Years of Battling Hot Viruses Around the World
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Virus Hunter: Thirty Years of Battling Hot Viruses Around the World

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  2,490 ratings  ·  65 reviews
A New York Times Notable Book

The man who led the battle against Ebola inThe Hot Zone teams up with the bestselling co-author ofMind Hunterto chronicle his extraordinary thirty-year career fighting deadly viruses.

For three decades, Dr. C. J. Peters was on the front lines of our biological battle against “hot” viruses around the world. In the course of that career, he
Paperback, 352 pages
Published April 13th 1998 by Anchor (first published 1997)
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  2,490 ratings  ·  65 reviews

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I've read this book nearly every year since it was published, and I still enjoy it. The science in this book is somewhat dated, but you still get an accurate account of what it's really like to work in this field. I wish Peters would write a follow-up to this book.

If you liked this book, you might also enjoy:

Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC - written by Epidemiologists working in the field

The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases - written by a journalist with a BS in Immunology, Garrett is
Apr 04, 2011 rated it liked it
It was books like this that made me want to be an epidemiologist at one point in my life. And then I realized that I hated studying science.

This book falls in the same line as The Hot Zone, but it is far more clinical than Preston's style. Peters has a long, and interesting history in the field of virology and epidemiology. He gives a very personalized version of major outbreaks over the course of a few decades. It shows his advancement as a doctor and a researcher while also giving the reader a
Betsy Curlin
May 30, 2012 rated it liked it
This book is a good account of what it's like working for the CDC and chasing after viral outbreaks around the world. It can be a bit tiresome to read at time, because there is a lot of prose, but if you can stick it out, you will learn a lot about the field experiences that come with this type of work, as well as the hazards of being exposed to deadly viruses. I just wished he had left out more of the stuff about his personal life, and stuck to his professional life.
Aug 26, 2009 added it
Awesome book. I have achieved a whole new level in my "Bubble Girl" secret identity.
Fred Dameron
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
For people who want to know how the U.S. used to go about finding and fighting disease, this is a good read. It is an autobiography so there are some dull spots where one wades through failed marriages and the pain they cause. But that is the price of being a type A person who is a workaholic. Work that has led to a lot of good science on how to handle hot viruses. Peter's also goes into some of the politics that goes on behind the scenes that has led to infighting between CDC, the Army, State ...more
Jan 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
Peters is first and foremost a scientist, and keeps to the facts while injecting portions of personal narrative and light humor. I found it the complete opposite of The Hot Zone, which fuels fear with gory, outright lies about Ebola victims "liquefying in their beds" and leans more toward Hollywood script than factual account. In particular, Peters' account of the demise of Donato was both a sad recounting and an important lesson about safety.

At times the writing can be a little dry, especially
Emma Chaney
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a good book. The book follows the author of this book a young man. It shows how he eventually became head at USAMRIID . When he was young, his mother battled cancer and died a slow and painful death. Though Peters didn't know it at the time, that would soon inspire him to look into the medical field. Peters decided to do work in Panama as a college student and became fascinated with tropical diseases. A cool connection between this book and what we're doing in English is that Peters was ...more
Graham Page
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book reads like a classic thriller at times, interspersed with reminiscing from a top notch scientist who has seen some hairy things and dealt with amazingly dangerous viruses. A great read that feels so fresh but was written over 20 years ago. Some of what C.J. Peters dealt with was so new and scary is still so unknown that it should scare the pants off of most who read this book. I enjoyed this one and liked how he slowly built up to the ebola outbreak on US shores. While we know so much ...more
Oct 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read18
in some areas has a lot more detail than 'The Coming Plague'. often too much- ie, the author's car they transferred the dead monkeys into in the parking lot in Reston, red. the details though are obviously from someone who spent 3 decades working right there in it. less biology than "The Coming Plague," more logistics and bickering between organizations. both books reach the same conclusion.
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is an autobiography, with personal details interjected into details of an impressive professional career. The book definitely focuses more on the career portion of the author, but aspects of his personal life are added to provide context and reference throughout the text. I know many people felt as if this was an unnecessary diversion, but I enjoyed these brief forays into humanity.

Many readers of books like The Hot Zone by Richard Preston will probably pick this up, and it should be
Nov 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
An excellent look at the career of C.J. Peters, one of the legendary virologists. His work at USAMRIID and the CDC was fascinating and vital to public health; the Ebola Reston crisis happened on his watch, and he handled the situation admirably.

Peters writes in a conversational style that should be fairly well understood by laymen. His technological explanations were, I thought, clear and didn't go into too much confusing detail.

His matter-of-fact tone when it comes to our now-defunct (uh huh)
May 09, 2011 rated it liked it
I Finally finished this book. It is certainly not for everyone - there were times when I didn't want to put it down, and also times where I opted to pick up and start another book instead. So it is a book that you need to want to finish.

That said, it is an interesting overview of the world of viruses, as told by C.J. Peters who has vast experience with a number of viruses. Hearing the stories of attempting to identify outbreaks, determine whether or not the virus is new or one that has been seen
John Daly
Oct 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
C.J. Peters is one of a rare breed. He has gone to the ends of the earth to seek out the most infectious and lethal diseases -- diseases for which there were no treatments -- in order to provide a scientific basis for their control. A highly trained physician and immunologist, spent his life in government agencies and universities when he could easily have earned more in private practice.

Read this unassuming book and you will discover a lot about emerging diseases, especially Ebola and its
Apr 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
Peters has lead quite the life, travelling around the world chasing viruses. I was really in it for the microbiological/scientific/medical aspect and, at first, was a little concerned about how much personal, straight autobiography there was. As I moved along, though, I found that to be an important part of the book. Reading about his life really gives the reader a great sense of how all-encompasing this particular type of work is. Most people's jobs effect their life, but not always to this ...more
Elaine Ossipov
Jul 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Very good book, great empirical structure to it, the characters are well developed if perhaps a bit shallow as you don't really know anything about their histories before or after the book.

I enjoy medical thriller's and have read many which are not on my shelves. Almost all of Robin Cooks novels, most of the FBI profiling & Serial Killer profiling books,

Virus Hunter was a great one, which I think I need to put on my 're-read' shelf after finally getting around to writing a review on it.

Lori Clark-Erickson
Lexile: 1340
Historical Event/ Time Period: 1950 19s-90 19s
Liked I liked the ideas and stories present in the book. The concept was good as well.
Disliked: It was pretty boring and gave a lot of detail on the diseases, which was gross. Also, it didn 19t fit with any of the projects and isn 19t really historical in any way.
Summary: This is a first person account of C.J. Peters 19 adventures while fighting diseases around the world. It tells his stories about finding diseases and figuring out how to
Feb 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Amy by: School Library
I won't try to describe all the stuff this guy did, but it's fascinating to hear about all the different viruses he's dealt with.

There's a lot of complex concepts in here, but it's worth trying to figure out.

The only thing I don't like about him is that his first two marriages ended in divorce. Well, I don't think he liked that either, though, so I won't go on about it.

C.J. Peters is one heck of an epidemiologist.
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you have any interest in medical research and/or epidemiology, this book is pretty much mandatory reading. CJ Peters has a very distinguished career in his chosen fields, having been a colonel in USAMRIID as well as the head of Special Pathogens in the CDC.

This book is essentially an autobiography with a focus on his work in chasing viruses.

It's very well written, and I think it could be enjoyable to both the layman as well as the epidemiology geeks.
Corey Ferguson
Jul 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very interesting perspectives on the world of infectious diseases: human error, politics, emotion, and of course evolution.

- Convincing a small tribe to give blood samples with no obvious advantage to the people in that community.
- Politics at play between "competing" organizations.
- Animal testing and euthenasia.
- Working with deadly viruses with no cure + inevitable human error.
- Medical history.
- Some personal background and history of the author.
Nov 02, 2009 rated it liked it
This book offers good and interesting insight into the world of biotechnology, virology, and the life of a virus hunter. It's more informational that conversational but still an interesting story. I recommend that someone read the Dark Biology series by Richard Preston first to take their first steps into this genre and if still interested, then read this book for additional interesting information. I have read it multiple times and I still enjoy it. This genre is a favorite of mine.
Mar 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
While at first I was a little put off by the very personal focus of this book (I picked it up expecting something more science and less memoir), I nevertheless found it very engaging and interesting once I realized that my preconceptions were off. CJ Peters' career and the viruses and other pathogens he's studied are both dangerous and fascinating. This book is a fun, fast read.
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Definitely a page turner in parts, mixed with some informative aspects. Plenty of calls for scientific funding, which I am a big fan of. I get the sense from this book that Dr. Peters has a good scientific mind, and I found that somewhat inspirational or motivational to continue my studies. At other times, I wished I stayed in the biochemistry track to become a virologist. Great book overall.
Oct 04, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in science
I just recently finished this book. It was a bit boring at times and very intense at other times. I found it much more interesting to read about the deadlier diseases than the "dull" ones. Go figure. I'm morbid. Anyway, I love epidemiology and virology, so this book was definitely good, but somewhat slow at times.
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015-read
Despite the dorky title VIRUS HUNTER was really great and full of stories from an experienced epidemiologist’s lifelong career in the field. Peters has a “modern cowboy” attitude which makes the read even more fun.
David Henry
Sep 09, 2012 rated it liked it
The man had a pretty interesting career, but I was not a big fan of the writing style or commentary. He definitely came off as a twat the way he spoke of his 2nd - or was it 3rd? - wife. No respect for the neglectful family man.
May 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a great book for those interested in infectious diseases who want to go into the field. Some others I know who have read the book were bored, but they were expecting more adventure and less science. It's a great book for real, raw information; if you want an adventure book, try fiction.
Jun 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
Why have I had a thirteen-year long obsession with the Ebola virus? I do not know -- there are many mysteries to life. But my alter-ego is a virus hunter, and this would be my memoir. Fighting crime and viruses wherever I go.
Sep 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Finally finished I just couldn't get through the last chapter not that it wasn't interesting or that it wasn't scary. I found this book realistically disturbing if any virus ever hits at the right place at the right time we are probably finished.
Sep 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Interesting book about work at CDC and the most sexy stories of being an epidemiologist. I got it when I was just starting my career in this field and was like a dream, I even got my copy autographed by CJ Peters. Unfortunately I got bored and could never finish it
Nov 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Part autobiography, part medical thriller, this chronicles the career of C.J. Peters, virus hunter. It was an interesting read, and I liked reading about the Reston Ebola outbreak from his point of view, as well as learning about other horrific diseases around the world.
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