The Hot Zone

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Major General Philip K. Russell Character Analysis

Russell is the commander of the United States Army Medical Research and Development Command, and controls USAMRIID. David Huxsoll notifies him about the Ebola Reston virus, and he in turn consults his friend Frederick Murphy. A figure of authority and intensity, he helps to keep his researchers focused and calm as they attempt to decide what to do about the infection.

Major General Philip K. Russell Quotes in The Hot Zone

The The Hot Zone quotes below are all either spoken by Major General Philip K. Russell or refer to Major General Philip K. Russell. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Anchor Books edition of The Hot Zone published in 1999.
Part 3, Chapter 7 Quotes

My God, with certain small changes, this virus could become one that travels in rapid respiratory transmission through humans. I’m talking about the Black Death. Imagine a virus with the infectiousness of influenza and the mortality rate of the black plague in the Middle Ages—that’s what we’re talking about.

Related Characters: Major General Philip K. Russell (speaker)
Page Number: 275
Explanation and Analysis:

Philip K. Russell, the Army general and doctor who made many of the major calls during the Ebola Reston outbreak, looks back on the incident as he speaks with Richard Preston. Another important pattern within The Hot Zone comes up within this passage: that of the near miss. Russell emphasizes that if the Reston virus had been even slightly different genetically, it could have easily traveled through the air and killed humans, just as it seemed to be doing to monkeys. (The idea that the Reston virus did become airborne has later been disputed, however.)

The fact that Russell compares the potential damage of Ebola to famous epidemics of the past is also vital. Both he and Preston are implying that humans must learn from the catastrophes of the past in order to prevent similar such catastrophes from occurring in the future. Although medical technology has advanced a tremendous amount since the days of fatal influenza and black plague, it has no mechanisms with which to stop Ebola—and in fact other technologies, such as modern transportation, actually make it easier than ever before for disease to spread on a global scale. 

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Major General Philip K. Russell Character Timeline in The Hot Zone

The timeline below shows where the character Major General Philip K. Russell appears in The Hot Zone. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 8: Chain of Command
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
...commander of USAMRIID, and an expert on biohazards. Upon hearing the news, Colonel Huxsoll telephones Major General Philip K. Russell, MD , the commander of the United States Army Medical Research and Development Command to set... (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
...the same time, the Army does have more manpower and ability than the C.D.C. does. General Russell asserts that this operation will function best if it is staffed by soldiers, because of... (full context)
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
General Russell adds that they need to contact Frederick A. Murphy, the director of the National Center... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 11: Shoot-Out
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
...monkeys, C. J. Peters runs a huge meeting in the conference room of Fort Detrick. General Russell sits in to chair the meeting, hoping to keep it from turning into a contest... (full context)
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Innovation and Curiosity vs. Hubris  Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
...both the monkey corpses and the virus. Fred Murphy urges McCormick to cool down, while General Russell steps in, suggesting that the Army and the C.D.C. split management. Eventually they come to... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 3: Tangos
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
Bravery and Teamwork Theme Icon
...rejects. Dalgard and Peters work together to develop a written agreement, which Peters carries to General Russell . They sign it without consulting lawyers and fax it back to Dalgard. (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 7: The Most Dangerous Strain
The Power of Nature Theme Icon
Human Error and Fragility Theme Icon
General Russell reveals to Preston that he was even more terrified of Ebola after the mission was... (full context)