Books : reviews

Richard Preston.
First Light: the search for the edge of the universe.
Corgi. 1987

At seven storeys high and with a two-hundred-inch mirror which took fourteen years to cast, the Hale telescope is the biggest and heaviest working instrument of its kind in the world. It can peer into the farthest recesses of space and may hold the key to one of the great mysteries: the riddle of the beginning of time.

At the Palomar observatory in the Gabriel Mountains of California, a team of astronomers are looking at the edge of the universe and seeking to unlock the secrets contained there. First Light is their story, a fascinating and important search for enlightenment in the black abyss of space. It is a story of radical scientific advances, told through the characters involved, in the quest for the ultimate knowledge.

Richard Preston.
The Hot Zone.
Corgi. 1994

Imagine a killer with the infectiousness of the common cold and power of the Black Death. Imagine something so dealy that it wipes out 90% of those it touches. Imagine an organism against which there is no defence. But you don’t need to imagine. Such a killer exists: it is a virus and its name is Ebola.

The Hot Zone tells what happens when the unthinkable becomes reality: when a deadly virus, from the rain forests of Africa, crosses continents and infects a monkey house ten miles from the White House.

Ebola is that reality. It has the power to decimate the world’s population. Try not to panic. It will be back. There is nothing you can do…

Richard Preston.
The Wild Trees.
Random House. 2007

The largest organisms the world has ever sustained, coast redwood trees have trunks up to thirty feet wide and can rise more than thirty-five stories into the sky. Their mysterious canopies are rich with hanging gardens, blackened chambers hollowed by fire, and vast, aerial trunk systems fused into bridges and towers. In The Wild Trees, Richard Preston unfolds the spellbinding story of Steve Sillett, Marie Antoine, and the tiny group of daring botanists and amateur naturalists who have found a lost world above California that is dangerous, majestic, hauntingly beautiful, and largely unexplored. They scale these trees and move through the lush, intricate limbs and branches while suspended on ropes, knowing that a small mistake can mean a deadly plunge.

A work of cutting-edge science, heart-pounding adventure, and deep passion, Preston’s amazing account shows us that the Earth still holds great wonders to be discovered.