- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Delta; Reprint edition (April 11, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385334966
- ISBN-13: 978-0385334969
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 211 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World--Told from Inside by the Man Who Ran It Reprint Edition
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Biological weapons in the former Soviet Union; where are they now?
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I found this narrative compelling from beginning to end and strongly recommend it.
While Alibek is certainly telling the story from his perspective, the fact that Americans were ignorant of the extent of the KGB's bioweapons program is undeniable. After reading this book, I personally cannot see any defense against the inevitability of a large-scale bioattack, and our helplessness in the face of such an attack. Viruses respect no geographical boundaries.
In one especially horrifying sequence, the Biopreparat researchers are forced to witness a colleague's slow death from Marburg (a cousin of Ebola) as a result of accidental exposure. When the colleague finally dies, the researchers are ordered by the KGB to weaponize the virus in the man's bloodstream, since it is now considered more lethal after having been inside a human host.
The moral of the story: Never assume we really know what those governmental institutions are up to. Highly recommended.