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The Demon in the Freezer | [Richard Preston]

The Demon in the Freezer

"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 Books on Tape, 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

4.1 (397 )
5 star
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4.3 (173 )
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4.2 (175 )
5 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    M. M. Robinson Austin, TX USA 07-07-04
    M. M. Robinson Austin, TX USA 07-07-04 Member Since 2014

    voracious reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dull and Lifeless"

    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.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacqueline 06-12-08
    Jacqueline 06-12-08

    Listen or Read - it's all good. Nesbo, Verndon, Adler-Olsen, McCammon, Galbraith and Robotham are some of my favorite author's lately

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Skip it"

    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.

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Cambridge, MA, United States 07-21-14
    Amazon Customer Cambridge, MA, United States 07-21-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Very engaging...a bit sensationalist"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Demon in the Freezer?

    An autopsy of an inhalation anthrax victim.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    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.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    It made me concerned about the availability of the smallpox genome sequence in public databases!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan E Johns Santa Rosa, CA 06-30-14
    Jonathan E Johns Santa Rosa, CA 06-30-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Dramatized History at it's best"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Demon in the Freezer to be better than the print version?

    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.


    What other book might you compare The Demon in the Freezer to and why?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of Paul Boehmer’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    The narrator does a great job telling that story with minimal accents, and dramatic interpretations. Very good voice inflection, and enthusiasm.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam 06-10-14
    Adam 06-10-14 Member Since 2015
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    "B+ Book With a Terrible Narrator"
    Where does The Demon in the Freezer rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It is a fairly good story but has some very boring moments made even more boring by the terrible performance. I wanted to pull my hair out when it listed literally dozens of pox viruses by animal type.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Not really, smallpox is very dangerous and scary but we know there was no biological attack using it so we won't be surprised.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Paul Boehmer’s performances?

    No, unless it is an amazing story and book and it is the only option.


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    It is scary to think about the possibility of literally thousands of gallons of smallpox laying around somewhere waiting to cause global anarchy.


    Any additional comments?

    The narrator attempts to do english accents which he accomplishes fairly well, but his take on Russian accents is comical. There is no reason to do accents with a book like this. He is very monotone and boring. I would recommend reading the book rather than listening to it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jaime 08-18-13
    Jaime 08-18-13 Member Since 2010

    Bibliophile

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    "Terrifying"

    Really, terrifying is the only word for it. Super-bugs resurrected from the past, weaponized, and potentially in the hands of anybody?
    Other than that chill-factor, it's a spectacular read, interesting and informative, with enough of a mystery to keep one interested. As a medical professional, the description of the diseases were fascinating, though perhaps a bit grotesque. Definitely one that I'll be re-reading!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christine Renner COLUMBUS, OH, US 04-07-13
    Christine Renner COLUMBUS, OH, US 04-07-13 Member Since 2014

    I work full time (3rd shift) and go to school full time for accounting. Without much time to sit down and just read a book but a 45-60 minute commute to and from work, I've just started seriously listening to audiobooks lately. They've been a lifesaver.

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    "Creepy, but amazing!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Demon in the Freezer the most enjoyable?

    It touched so many different topics. While The Hot Zone focused almost solely on Ebola, this book touched a variety of viruses but they were all tied together. You got the backstory on the smallpox eradication efforts, the gruesome effects of the disease most of us have never seen, how the smallpox vaccination team got started in the field and pulled into the research held at the CDC in Atlanta and the story of the first bioterrorist attack on the United States right after 9/11. Very well written (as always) and enjoyable. The narrator did a wonderful job, his use of accents not detracting from the story but helping you genuinely get a feel for the person talking.


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    It did from the viewpoint that even though I know smallpox hasn't gotten out, I kept waiting for some catastrophe to occur. Any time you're dealing with a level 4 virus, a person can never be too careful. Add in long days inside a spacesuit conducting necropsies with very sharp scalpels, drugging monkeys who have not had their very sharp canines filed and drawing infected blood from those same monkeys with sharp needles and you have the recipe for potential disaster. Preston is able to give the feeling of constant threat without going overboard or sacrificing truth.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Terry 12-24-12
    Terry 12-24-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Frightening"

    This book will keep you up at night.

    This book underscores one of the potentially world-altering scenarios - biological warfare. Along the lines of Charlie Wilson's War - this is a situation where earth shaking events have occurred, but few people realize or understand. It highlights that there really are bad people out there. Those without scruples that would do harm to everyone and anyone to further their cause.

    As a scientist, I found the book to be informative and technically precise. The author did a good job with proper pronunciation of technical terms. I appreciate the fact that the author seems to have gone to some length not to divulge too much information about the security practices that the US has in place to secure the exotic viruses it has for research purposes.

    This contrasts with some other books that almost give a blueprint of how to get in where you shouldn't and the types of security measures that are in place.

    There are times the story becomes less than smooth - especially some of the transitions between topics. There are a few editing issues, where a sentence or two is repeated, especially around the chapter markings.

    Overall, a very worthy read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Arkadelphia, Argentina 12-05-12
    Sarah Arkadelphia, Argentina 12-05-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Informative and Entertaining"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Would recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand infectious diseases and bio-terrorism better.


    What does Paul Boehmer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Compelling narration by Boehner.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenzibit Ghana 09-09-12
    Kenzibit Ghana 09-09-12

    Research Technologist with deep interests in Host Cell - Pathogen Interactions & Cancer Research. I enjoy and mostly listen to Non-Fiction audiobooks on Medicine/Science, War and History. I also like to Game when I'm not in the lab.

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    "A Great Listen"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Recommend this to all Medical Research Scientists like myself. It really opens your mind to a lot of things you never thought about. I really enjoyed every bit of it, not forgetting a great narrator too (Paul Boehmer).


    Any additional comments?

    Need more books like this.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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