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The Demon in the Freezer: A True Story | [Richard Preston]

The Demon in the Freezer: A True Story

"This book will give you nightmares," cautions The New York Times. Richard Preston takes us inside the ongoing war against bioterrorism, investigating the anthrax attacks of October 2001 and the potential for a future bio-attack using smallpox or, worse yet, a new superpox virus resistant to all vaccines. "As exciting as the best thrillers, yet scarier by far, for Preston's pages deal with clear, present and very real dangers," says Publishers Weekly.
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Publisher's Summary

The first major bioterror event in the United States - the anthrax attacks in October 2001 - was a clarion call for scientists who work with "hot" agents to find ways of protecting civilian populations against biological weapons. In The Demon in the Freezer, Richard Preston takes us into the heart of USAMRIID, the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland.

Peter Jahrling, the top scientist at USAMRIID, has ORCON security clearance that gives him access to top-secret information of bioweapons. His most urgent priority is to develop a drug that will take on smallpox - and win. Eradicated from the planet in 1979, the smallpox virus now resides, officially, in only two high-security freezers - at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, and in Siberia, at a Russian virology institute called Vector. But the demon in the freezer has been set loose. It is almost certain that illegal stocks are in the possession of hostile states, including Iraq and North Korea. Jahrling is haunted by the thought that biologists in secret labs are using genetic engineering to create a new superpox virus, a smallpox resistant to all vaccines.

USAMRIID went into a state of Delta Alert on September 11 and activated its emergency response teams when the first anthrax letters were opened in New York and Washington, D.C. Preston reports, in unprecedented detail, on the government's response to the attacks and takes us into the ongoing FBI investigation. His story is based on interviews with top-level FBI agents and with Dr. Steven Hatfill.

©2002 Richard Preston; (P)2002 Random House Inc., Random House Audio, a Division of Random House Inc.

What the Critics Say

"This book will give you nightmares. Preston...turns a story about science and medicine into a theme-park ride of a thriller." (The New York Times)
"As exciting as the best thrillers, yet scarier by far, for Preston's pages deal with clear, present and very real dangers." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (172 )
5 star
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4.4 (42 )
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4.3 (42 )
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  •  
    Mark Winston Salem, NC, USA 12-14-02
    Mark Winston Salem, NC, USA 12-14-02 Member Since 2002
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Excellent and Timely!"

    Preston does it again (also wrote the Hot Zone about Ebola virus) with an outstanding depiction of the current smallpox crisis. If this doesn't send chills up your spine, nothing will. Excellent descriptions of the effects smallpox has on the body and how easily it can spread. He takes you behind the scenes with the real life people working on this problem today. Narration quality - very good. Very highly recommended.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike Seattle, WA, USA 05-11-09
    Mike Seattle, WA, USA 05-11-09 Member Since 2007
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    "Will make you wash your hands a lot more often"

    Excellent book, even if a bit dated in parts (Iraq was still being run by Sadam at the time of publishing). Still, a very good synopsis of the science behind microscopic weapons of terror, complete with graphic descriptions of the deadly effects (that you know you want to hear).

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephen ALAMO, CA, United States 12-19-02
    Stephen ALAMO, CA, United States 12-19-02 Member Since 2002
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    "Riveting..."

    Anybody who has ever thought of Smallpox as "not that big a deal" or referred to it as "a bad case of Chicken Pox, right?" has GOT to hear this book. Extremely detailed without being gratuitous, the author really drives home the reality of deadly substances like Smallpox virus and Anthrax, and their consequences to our everyday lives. I literally could not pull myself away from my iPod!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phyllis Carbajosa de la Sagrada, Spain 12-14-12
    Phyllis Carbajosa de la Sagrada, Spain 12-14-12 Member Since 2007

    5 stars - books that I will listen to again and again. 4 stars - books that I might listen to again someday. 3 stars - books that I probably won't listen to again. 2 stars - books that I know I will never listen to again. 1 star - books that I should have never listened to in the first place.

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    "It's True, May Provoke Nightmares!"

    This is one of the few Audible books I've downloaded that is Abridged. And boy am I glad it didn't last longer than 6 hours because I just couldn't stop listening until it was finished! This book ended up being a very quick, very informative and very frightening 6 hours.

    The story opens with the 2001 anthrax outbreak, but it quickly shifts to Preston's greater concern, smallpox. Unlike anthrax, smallpox is highly infectious. We are led to believe that smallpox was stamped out in the 1970s. Supposedly, the only samples left of the virus were kept frozen in guarded vaults in Atlanta and Moscow. We NOW know that in the 1980s the Soviet Union's military produced the smallpox virus in large quantities, for use in special warheads. That effort is over, however, absolutely NO ONE is SURE how much of the material escaped destruction. Nor does anyone know what unauthorized stocks of the virus are kept by other military forces, and by which nations.

    All the information presented by Richard Preston is factual and frightening! James Naughton does a wonderful job with narration. Definitely recommended as a quick and informational listen!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K Alpine, UT, USA 01-09-09
    K Alpine, UT, USA 01-09-09 Member Since 2005
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    "Very Well Written and Enlightening"

    This book makes you aware of how easy it really is for terrorists to use tools against us that could literally destroy us in a matter of weeks. It should change the mind of any skeptic who thinks terrorists can be dealt with peacably and explains very simply the problems with the United Nations and even Americans who live in a state of denial and prefer to keep their rose-colored glasses on. This book is based on very rational facts and takes fear and places it exactly where it should be. There are no scare tactics here, simply facts and logic and anyone interested in an honest portrayal of the war in Iraq and the goings on in countries such as Russia and Iran needs to listen to this book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Naperville, IL, USA 05-10-03
    Jeff Naperville, IL, USA 05-10-03
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    "Eye Opening Great Read"

    "The Demon in the Freezer" reads like a good novel, yet is all too real. Richard Preston does a great job of detailing the history of small pox, its impact on society, and the potential for its use as a weapon.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Tulsa, OK, USA 03-11-03
    Robert Tulsa, OK, USA 03-11-03
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    "Preston Strikes Again"

    Never read a book by Preston if you wish to sleep soundly. As usual, this very gifted science writer has delivered a chillingly accurate study of a biological menace albeit human controlled, this time. A superb read and a "must read" considering the present world situation.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    andrea Annandale, NJ, United States 05-04-12
    andrea Annandale, NJ, United States 05-04-12 Member Since 2010

    I love the outdoors and the warm weather!! And I never leave home with out my I-Nano. It should be surgically placed into my ear. I live and breath for books.

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    "Informatinve and a bit scary."

    The book is very informative on all types of disease and bio war fare. How it can spread from person to person. The only reason I did not give a book a 5 star rating. It was a bit drawn out. But if you like medical thrillers it's not bad.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Yvette D Woodward Baton Rouge, LA United States 04-27-09
    Yvette D Woodward Baton Rouge, LA United States 04-27-09 Listener Since 2006

    luvmygsds2001

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    "Informative and enjoyable"

    The topic of disease and biological warfare is dark subject indeed, but this book handled it well. Although it was chilling to read the vivid descriptions of the effects of smallpox and other virulent pathogens on the body, the subject was handled well. It was accurate without being melodramatic. For such an unappetizing subject matter, the book was surprisingly enjoyable and I would recommend it to others.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lisa Kihei, HI, USA 09-20-06
    Lisa Kihei, HI, USA 09-20-06
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    "Loved it!"

    This book kept me on edge almost the whole way through. It is a must read based on the times we are in. I had no idea about the severity of biological warfare! I feel like my eyes have been opened. I would suggest it to everyone.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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