Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World--Told from Inside by the Man Who Ran It

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9780385334969: Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World--Told from Inside by the Man Who Ran It

Anthrax. Smallpox. Incurable and horrifying Ebola-related fevers. For two decades, while a fearful world prepared for nuclear winter, an elite team of Russian bioweaponeers began to till a new killing field: a bleak tract sown with powerful seeds of mass destruction—by doctors who had committed themselves to creating a biological Armageddon. Biohazard is the never-before-told story of Russia’s darkest, deadliest, and most closely guarded Cold War secret.
 
No one knows more about Russia’s astounding experiments with biowarfare than Ken Alibek. Now the mastermind behind Russia’s germ warfare effort reveals two decades of shocking breakthroughs . . . how Moscow’s leading scientists actually reengineered hazardous microbes to make them even more virulent . . . the secrets behind the discovery of an invisible, untraceable new class of biological agents just right for use in political assassinations . . . the startling story behind Russia’s attempt to turn a sample of the AIDS virus into the ultimate bioweapon. And in a chilling work of real-world intrigue, Biohazard offers us all a rare glimpse into a shadowy scientific underworld where doctors manufacture mass destruction, where witnesses to errors are silenced forever, and where ground zero is closer than we ever dared believe.
 
Praise for Biohazard
 
“Harrowing . . . richly descriptive . . . [an] absorbing account.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“Remarkable . . . terrifying revelations . . . [Ken Alibek’s] overall message is ignored at great national peril.”—Newsday
 
“Read and be amazed. . . . An important and fascinating look into a terrifying world of which we were blissfully unaware.”—Robin Cook, author of Contagion

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Review:

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

About the Author:

Ken Alibek was born in Kauchuk, Kazakhstan, in 1950. He graduated in 1975 from the military faculty of the Tomsk Medical Institute, where he majored in infectious diseases and epidemiology. He holds a Ph.D. in microbiology for research and development of plague and tularemia biological weapons and a doctorate of science in biotechnology for developing the technology to manufacture anthrax on an industrial scale. He joined Biopreparat in 1975 and was its first deputy chief from 1988 to 1992. Since his defection to the United States in 1992, he has briefed U.S. military intelligence on biological weapons. He is now working in biodefense.

Stephen Handelman is a columnist at Time. He was the Moscow bureau chief of The Toronto Star in the late eighties and early nineties and is the author of Comrade Criminal: Russia’s New Mafiya.

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