Three reporters from The New York Times survey the recent history of biological weapons and sound an alarm about the coming threat of the "poor man's hydrogen bomb." Germs begins ominously enough, recounting the chilling attack by the followers of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh in 1984 on the Dalles, Oregon--no one died, but nearly 1,000 were infected with a strain of salmonella that the cult had legally obtained, then cultured and distributed.
While the U.S. maintained an active "bugs and gas" program in the '50s and early '60s, bio-weapons were effectively pulled off this country's agenda in 1972 when countries around the world, led by the United States, forswore development of such weapons at the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. The issue reemerged in the early '90s thanks to Saddam Hussein and revelations of the clandestine and massive buildup of bio-weapons in remote corners of the Soviet Union. The book's description of the Soviet program is horrific. At its peak the program employed thousands of scientists, developing bioengineered pathogens as well as producing hundreds of tons of plague, anthrax, and smallpox annually. The authors conclude that while a biological attack against the United States is not necessarily inevitable, the danger of bio-weapons is too real to be ignored. Well-researched and documented, this book will not disappoint readers looking for a reliable and sober resource on the topic. --Harry C. Edwards
From Publishers Weekly
Methodically researched and cogently argued by three New York Times reporters (one of whom received an anthrax-tainted letter recently), this survey of the modern history of biological weapons is a worthy, albeit frightening, exercise in investigative journalism. The book details the evolution of biowarfare (beginning about 60 years ago)from the U.S. to Iraq and the Soviet Union, vividly portraying these weapons in all their power and nightmarish possibilities. Guyer brings a dry but authoritative and appropriate journalistic tone to his reading. His is the steady, baritone voice of a network news anchor, and it works well conveying weighty information about major international events and politics. Thankfully, despite the topic's sensationalist possibilities, this production stays true to the sober, reasoned style of the text and steers clear of punctuating the reading with ominous or melodramatic musical flourishes. There's plenty in the facts themselves to convey unease, and while it might not be the lightest listening, there is no doubt that this is a high-quality production of a balanced and informative look at a growing global threat. Based on the S&S hardcover.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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