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Showing 1-8 of 8 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 32 reviews
TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon December 2, 2014
While I think some of the material is a bit outdated- the book is getting old and we know a lot more about ebola now- I think- it's still very relevant in many, many ways- specifically about the threat of bioterrorism and the book describes many possible scenerios.

I felt like this book was easy to read and well written. It's not too thick and it was never in any way overwhelming. I learned a lot from it.

Michael Osterholm really speaks clearly and intelligently on epidemiology and emerging biological threats. I'd love to have got a chance to study with him, so I'm grateful to get to read his books and find his lectures and speeches online. To me he makes more sense than anyone on the subject of ebola & the threat of bioterrorism..
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on November 19, 2014
Dr Osterholm wrote this book in 2000. I read it & was scared but felt informed. I gave the book to a friend. Now, years later, with relevant current events, I needed to read the book again. I got myself a very nice used one from Amazon & read it again. If knowledge is power, this book provided enough info to calm me & my friends, & to help us develop plans that are sensible, not hysterical. Dr Osterholm tells it like it is & the truth tends to be more empowering than lies. Less hysteria, more focus & better planning for our future. I highly recommend this book. Thank you, Dr O !
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on March 9, 2014
Opens your eyes and mind as to what may come or actually what is already happening. You could put this book away and reread 4-5 months again and see something that you might of missed first time around. Americans need to read this book.
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on November 26, 2000
Living Terrors is a book that should be read by all Americans. The
book is written by Michael T. Osterholm, Ph.D. and science journalist
John Schwartz. It is based largely on Dr. Osterholm's experience as
an epidemiologist, his expertise in biological weapons, and his
efforts to educate the public on the threats of bioterrorism. He
illustrates several points about the unique aspects of this threat by
beginning chapters with fictional vignettes about hypothetical
bioterrorists. The emphasis is on the general anonymity of the
perpetrators, ready availability of biological agents, and the
difficulty tracking the terrorist. He uses the subsequent chapters to
argue that the bacteria and viruses are readily available and the
technology for dispersing easily learned. He discusses estimates of
potential loss of life and economic damage from a bioterrorist
The second half of the book describes a hypothetical
smallpox attack on the city of Chicago. Most Americans over the age
of thirty have some recollection of smallpox vaccinations they
received as a child. The wild form of smallpox was eradicated in 1977
and the World Health Organization recommended discontinuing
vaccinations against it in 1980. The only remaining smallpox was in
laboratories in the United States and the Soviet Union. The authors
present evidence here that other countries have this agent and that
the combination of high infectivity, high lethality, and low immunity
make it lethal if dispersed by a terrorist.
Living Terrors also
focuses on systems and logistics that need to be addressed. Both
antibiotics and immunizations are effective in specific situations,
but there are currently not enough doses to have much of an impact in
the event of an attack. Civil defense preparedness is also lacking.
The type of response needed for a chemical weapons release is compared
with biological weapons. Early identification of the infectious
disease is critical since many of the diseases appear to be similar to
upper respiratory infections. Quarantine and respiratory isolation of
individuals affected with smallpox is also the best initial
intervention to prevent subsequent waves of infection. The more
specific issue of containing patients in negative air pressure rooms
is contrasted with the fact that there are only 60 such rooms in the
state of Minnesota's 144 hospitals.
The associated public health
issues of decreased bed capacity and physician time to devote to these
issues are discussed. One of Dr. Osterholm's recommendations involves
increasing the "slack" in the system. He points out that
for smaller disasters, such as plane crashes, the current systems are
deficient and these deficiencies would be greatly amplified in a
bioterrorist attack. Many physicians have never seen a case of small
pox or anthrax and would benefit from the appropriate training.
Appropriate training programs exist, but don't target local health
The legal responses by both local officials and federal
officials as well as law enforcement are discussed. Large epidemics
are inherently disruptive to public health and law enforcement
systems. The authors point out how the different perspectives of law
enforcement and medicine (preserve the crime scene vs. do whatever is
medically necessary) can lead to non-productive and at times
embarrassing conflicts during public health emergencies. They also
discuss the current legal landscape as it applies to a large epidemic,
referencing the work of legal scholar Terry P. O'Brien. Several
problems with the current the policies about the government response
to a terrorist event are described.
Dr. Osterholm ends the book
with an "eight point plan" to improve readiness in the case
of a bioterrorism attack. He encourages a realistic appraisal of the
current situation and concrete steps to improve readiness both within
the government and the medical community. This book is a compelling
read from a number of perspectives. At the level of government's
ability to address difficult problems, we find that very little seems
to be going on. Funds are targeted for the wrong purposes and local
officials seem to be waiting for federal guidance that never comes.
On another level we are introduced to terrorists that act unilaterally
and with no provocation. A situation where a random act of aggression
can become a biological catastrophe seems plausible. As a
psychiatrist, I am interested in the thinking behind terrorism
specifically what would cause a person to murder large numbers of
people. The book does not explore the consciousness of terrorists
except to suggest that there are no common threads. We are left with
the problem that it is impossible to predict the person capable of
this rare, but devastating behavior.
I liked the layout of this
book. It is written to maintain the interest of the casual reader,
but also includes fairly detailed footnotes. Those footnotes cover
official documents, scholarly references, and articles in the press.
I have an interest in bioterrorism and found that the references were
more comprehensive and relevant than those I had been able to find in
the medical literature. The authors have done a service in outlining
the scope and nature of the current problem. It is up to the rest of
us to make sure something gets done about it.
George Dawson, MD
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on February 10, 2013
This book is scary. It should be mandatory reading for every kid as soon as they are able. Barak Obama should get a law passed that makes it a federal offence to refuse to read it with a sentence of death by slow torture for those that don't comply. Yes I liked it.
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on March 6, 2011
Real life scenario based book about biological terrorism in all its potential forms and sources. Could be front page news in the current world we live. Very real and compelling read from an expert in the field. Should be required reading for Congress and any government agency involved in funding and/or fighting homegrown and int'l terrorism.
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on August 26, 2007
This book by Michael Osterholm is extreamly hard to put down. I have had the privilege of knowing the author because of having somewhat similar backgrounds regarding microbes and other disease producing agents. My respect for Mike is his distinct ability to get his message across both lucidly and with much gravity. All who read this book should heed it's message loud and clear!
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on October 22, 2014
Great book, although a little out dated. It's still a good read and makes you think! Especially great for the price I paid!
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