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 Books on Tape, Inc.
"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)
wow. dont start this before bed... not only will this book put the absolute fear of bioterror in you, but it is difficult to put down. far more sinister than any fiction, this book weaves the history of smallpox, anthrax, and 9/11. i'm a physician and had little education on smallpox, a simply horrific disease. bottom line, the averaqe american lives in ignorant bliss... and i'm not a fear mongering conservative.
I've enjoyed Richard Preston's work in the past, and I most likely would prefer to actually read a copy of this one. I found the narrator dull, lifeless and absolutely boring to listen to. There was no inflection of his voice, no intonation, just a monotone delivery that drove me to distraction! The material that I could manage to listen to was well written, but very poorly read. I think I"ll go buy a copy of the book and save myself the tedium of listening to this narrator. If I were basing this review on the quality of writing, this book would easily earn 4 stars, but because it's an audio version I can't give it more than 2.
I was sooo looking forward to this book as his previous books have been very entertaining and kept the interest high. Not this one. The narrator was bland, and the events that take place are disjointed- it doesn't flow smoothly. I hope the next one is better.
I enjoyed learning the scientific and deadly history of small pox. I had always thought it was similar to childhood chicken pox or measles. I had no idea how potentially dangerous it could be; how it could be used in warfare. How hard it was to rid ourselves of it on a widespread basis. Science disabled it, just like polio. All that thinking was naive. I was stunned by some scientists treating it like an endangered species. Why keep something so horrible unless it's used for no good. I did have trouble following some of the more scientific arguments. Since I now know way more than I did, I'm not frustrated by that.
I liked that the main characters were all treated fairly and the author showed no particular bias, like or dislike for any of them. He was reporting on small pox, not personalities.
I enjoyed the reader. He didn't stumble over complicated names or places; I'm sure he used retakes, but it was seamless. He had a pleasant, easy voice to listen to voice. I liked the book overall and I thought it was written extremely well for something based in science. I can tell you water = H2O, but that's the extent of my scientific IQ.
This could have been a better book if they did not describe it as a book about anthrax. This book is really about Polio and how the country worked to eradicate it.
Frustration. Because I really thought I was reading a book about Antrax.
The powers that be insist upon keeping small pox in existence, although it was eradicated in the wild. Genetic engineering persists ... in the name of saving mankind from future lethal pandemics.
An autopsy of an inhalation anthrax victim.
The reader gave accents to different characters, which was very distracting. The Australian accent was particularly egregious, and the CDC scientist from the South sounded a bit like Gomer Pyle.
It made me concerned about the availability of the smallpox genome sequence in public databases!
This story is terrifying, intense, suspenseful, and dramatic. And it is true. The author has taken interviews, and public documents and sewn together a fantastic story of the eradication of smallpox and the 2001 Anthrax attack and connected them using the real peoples life stories to bring it all together.
I like dramatized history, and scientific stories like the Disappearing Spoon, and this fits right in. Reads like a summer blockbuster movie, but historically real.
The narrator does a great job telling that story with minimal accents, and dramatic interpretations. Very good voice inflection, and enthusiasm.
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