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Richard Preston Books In Order

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Publication Order of Richard Preston Standalone Novels

The Cobra Event (1997)Description / Buy at Amazon
Micro (With: Michael Crichton) (2011)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Richard Preston Short Stories/Novellas

The Boat of Dreams: A Christmas Story (2003)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Richard Preston Non-Fiction Books

First Light (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
American Steel (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Hot Zone (1994)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Demon in the Freezer (2002)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Wild Trees (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Panic in Level 4 (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
Crisis in the Red Zone (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Richard Preston has garnered considerable fame as a bestselling author, focusing his fiction and nonfiction works around science and the role it can play as a destructive weapon in the wrong hands. The writer is known for the considerable amount of background research he injects into his various works.


Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1954, Richard Preston grew up in Wellesley, a suburb of Boston; discovering books at nine, he has admitted to gaining a great love for the written word at quite an early age, this partly driven by his shy nature.

Finding an escape in books and the imaginative world they crafted, Preston spend a considerable amount of time at the local library after school, taking a particular interest in the science fiction section. He would learn about great names such as Edwin Hubble and his discoveries, the nature of galaxies and the very universe itself, gaining a great love for all things science related.

Richard Preston’s high school life at Wellesley High was far from pleasant, the future author boasting a fairly negative disciplinary record, this resulting from an altercation with a teacher. Bright spots during these formative years included Preston’s English teacher who proved to be an inspiration for Richard’s dreams.

Pomona college played a crucial role in nurturing Richard’s intellectual side, and his entrance into the institution was little more than luck, taking into account the fact that Richard was rejected by every college he applied to.

His future in Pomona came into being as a result of sheer determination, Richard, upon determining to attend the college, calling the Dean once every week until he grew fatigued enough and allowed Richard into Pomona.

Richard has spoken of finding great joy within Pomona’s walls, the college driving him to work harder than ever before and loving it; progressing through the education program alongside his brother and fellow author, Doug, Richard eventually justified the Dean’s faith in him by graduating Summa Cum Laude.

The author’s PhD in English emanated from Princeton. Richard’s dissertation focused on nineteenth century American narrative nonfiction writing. He would also enjoy the tutelage of esteemed New Yorker writer John MacPhee who has published more than 30 works of nonfiction.

It was from this class, The Literature of Fact, that Richard Preston gained a fascination for nonfiction and its potential as a powerful narrative. It was for this reason that Preston chose to pursue a career as a nonfiction writer rather than an English Professor.

Preston met his wife, Michelle Parham Preston, during John MacPhee’s course; the pair fell in love and got married. They have three children.

Writing Method

Despite being a humanist Preston’s interests largely lie in science; it is for this reason that all his books tend to focus upon scrutinizing nature and the dark and light facets of its existence, from galaxies to insects and viruses. That being said he places special emphasis upon human characters and the struggles they persevere through.

Richard Preston has gained considerable renown for the intense amount of effort he injects into his writing process; he has admitted to traveling with several notebooks within which he chronicles important matters regarding the world he is trying to create.

Usually keeping a camera on hand for more intricate research purposes, Richard has often described himself as a compulsive fact checker and will interview and re-interview people for several hours on end, ensuring to capture even the slightest detail that might best bring his world to life.

Richard has described his method as largely revolving around immersing himself in his subjects and their lives, experiencing their worlds as they view them and attempting to bring their unique perspectives to paper.

Writing Career

Richard’s first book came after he completed his PhD in 1983. The book was a work of nonfiction titled First Light and focused upon Astronomy, winning the American Institute of Physics writing award a few years later. Many consider First Light to be a science based classic.

Richard followed this work with American steel, a book about building a steel mill, quickly continuing to build momentum within the fiction and nonfiction field after this point.

-The Cobra Event- Most people would say that Preston didn’t enjoy true fame as an author until the release of The Cobra Event. The novel is a petrifying account of a bio terrorism attack and the devastating consequences that ensue.

It opens with 17 year old Kate Moran taking note of a cold one early morning. Her decision to ignore it proves disastrous. By lunch time she is overcome by violent seizures and a strange case of self cannibalization. Following Kate’s eventual death, a homeless man succumbs to similar symptoms and the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta puts pathologist Alice Austen to the task of investigating the incidents.

IN discovering a killer, Archimedes, determined to unleash the deadly cobra virus on New York City Austen finds herself at the center of a truly horrifying crisis.

The Cobra Event stirred interest in many circles, mostly because Preston spoke of the harrowing interviews of knowledgeable sources, many of whom spoke of the presence of biological weapons of varying degrees of potency in many nations around the world.

It has been said that Bill Clinton couldn’t put the novel down for two days, the 2001 anthrax terror event serving to present the realistic elements of Preston’s work.

-The Hot Zone- The Hot Zone was published before The Cobra Event but only garnered interest from a wide audience after the success of The Cobra event.

The novel revolves around the deadly virus that is Ebola which emerges in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. There is no cure and as such a large percentage of its victims perish within a week. A SWAT team is mobilized and tasked with stopping the virus and its spread, the novel making for a hair raising account of the lethal virus’ deadly assault on Washington.

Called shocking and impossible to ignore, The Hot Zone inspired the movie Outbreak’ which starred Renee Russo and Dustin Hoffman.

The Hot Zone, The Cobra Event and The Demon in the Freezer form a collection of stories about viruses called Dark Biology’. They are some of Richard Preston’s best works.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Richard Preston

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