In this fast-paced memoir, Ken Alibek combines cutting-edge science with the narrative techniques of a thriller to describe some of the most awful weapons imaginable. The result will remind readers of The Hot Zone
, Richard Preston's smart bestseller about the Ebola virus. That book focuses on the dangers of a freak accident; Biohazard
shows how disease can become a deliberate tool of war. Alibek, once a top scientist in the Soviet Union's biological weapons program, describes putting anthrax on a warhead and targeting a city on the other side of the world. "A hundred kilograms of anthrax spores would, in optimal atmospheric conditions, kill up to three million people in any of the densely populated metropolitan areas of the United States," he writes. "A single SS-18 [missile] could wipe out the population of a city as large as New York."
Chilling passages like these, plus discussions of proliferation and terrorism, make Biohazard a harrowing book, but it also has a human side. Alibek, who defected to the United States, describes the routine danger of his work: "A bioweapons lab leaves its mark on a person forever." An unending stream of vaccinations has destroyed his sense of smell, afflicted him with allergies, made it impossible to eat certain kinds of food, and "weakened my resistance to disease and probably shortened my life." But it didn't take away his ability to tell an astonishing story. --John J. Miller
From Library Journal
Biological weapons in the former Soviet Union; where are they now?
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.