Mandy Moody's Reviews > Panic in Level 4: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science

Panic in Level 4 by Richard   Preston
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's review
Oct 15, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, audio-book

I love Richard Preston and was excited to read some short stories by him - thinking that the shorter format would be easier to get through - less back story.

This was a mixed bag, however.
Story #1, The Mountains of Pi, is about the Chudnovsky brothers, their super computers, and the quest for patterns in the number pi, bored me to tears overall. There were parts that were interesting, but for the most part I just wanted to get through it. Had I been reading, I would have skipped ahead. Since I was listening, I suffered through it. 1 star for this story.

The second story, A Death in the Forest, is about the death of hemlocks by the woolly adelgid, a parasitic insect from Asia. It was actually far more interesting than it sounds, I would have given it 3 stars if rating it on it's own.

Story #3, The Search for Ebola, covers the 1994 outbreak in Kikwit. A microcosm of one of the stories in the Hot Zone, I really enjoyed this one. 4.5 stars.

Story #4, The Human Kabbalah, is about the Human Genome Project and the companies involved in mapping the genome. Though some of the political details were a bit tedious, I did enjoy this story. 3.5 stars.

Story #5, The Lost Unicorn, examines the series of seven tapestries titled The Hunt of the Unicorn. The history was fascinating, and the catalogueing was also interesting. The Chudnovsky brothers part in this story was a fun crossover. 3 stars.

The Last story, The Self-Cannibals, is about a horrific and heartbreaking genetic disorder known as Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome, which causes (among other things) involuntary self-mutilation. This story was terrifying and heartbreaking. Another 4.5 star story.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Clearly my interests dictated which stories I liked best.

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