Anthrax: The Investigation of a Deadly Outbreak

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9780520229174: Anthrax: The Investigation of a Deadly Outbreak
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In April of 1979 the city of Sverdlovsk in Russia's Ural Mountains was struck by a frightening anthrax epidemic. Official Soviet documents reported sixty-four human deaths resulting from the ingestion of tainted meat sold on the black market, but U.S. intelligence sources implied a different story, and the lack of documentation left unresolved questions. In her riveting investigation of the incident, Jeanne Guillemin unravels the mystery of what really happened during that tragic event in Sverdlovsk.

Anthrax is a virulent and deadly bacteria whose spores can remain in soil for as long as seventy years, killing grazing animals and putting humans in jeopardy of eating infected meat. Contemporary concern is more centered on anthrax as an airborne biological weapon whose inhaled spores can result in ninety percent mortality for those infected.

As part of a team of doctors and researchers, Jeanne Guillemin traveled to Russia in 1992 to determine the cause and extent of the epidemic. Her affecting narrative transforms a case of epidemiological investigation into a politically charged mystery. She creates a vivid sense of immediacy and drama with her insider's account of the team's investigative work―the analysis of pathology photos and slides, meetings with political and public health officials, the retrieval of essential medical data―and candidly reveals the subjective side of science as she conducts interviews with afflicted families, visits sites, and interacts with those suspected of clouding the truth.

Complete with medical case information and three epidemiological maps, this classic account relates directly to growing concern over bioterrorism and how the United States and other nations should respond. In the final chapters Guillemin surveys past and present covert biological weapons arsenals scattered around the world and the international legal efforts to eliminate them.

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Review:

The great equalizer between humans and sheep, anthrax has filled us with morbid curiosity as far back as records exist. Once believed to be a manifestation of unholy fire, today it is seen as a weapon of deranged terrorists or sinister governments. Medical anthropologist Jeanne Guillemin's Anthrax: The Investigation of a Deadly Outbreak examines the 1979 deaths of 64 Soviet citizens in the Ural mountains. Blamed at the time on tainted meat, Guillemin's team proved that a plume of spores from a nearby military site caused the event (Boris Yeltsin admitted this much at about the same time). Not just a medical detective story, Guillemin's book is also an insightful look into the effects such an outbreak has on survivors and a penetrating analysis of the prospects of biological warfare in the not-too-distant future. Starting in the local cemetery to find the victims' identities--the KGB had long ago seized their records--the team interviews survivors and kin, unleashing long-repressed feelings and yielding valuable information about those struck down. Ultimately, despite interference from the Russian military and civil service, the tainted meat hypothesis is refuted and clear evidence of illegal and dangerous research released. The reader is left to wonder about one Russian's suggestion that if the wind had changed course one day in 1979, hundreds of thousands might have died. Where does that leave us today? --Rob Lightner

From the Inside Flap:

"Jeanne Guillemin offers a riveting account of tracking down the causes of a public health calamity and penetrating layer upon layer of secrecy and obfuscation. She persuasively combines meticulous attention to scientific detail with alertness to the voice of those whose lives were changed by the crisis." ―Sissela Bok, author of Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation and Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life

"Guillemin’s book is a triple treat: it is a gripping detective story, a vivid portrayal of non-Moscow Russian life, and a standard-setting display of the scientific method at work. and there is a bonus: the reader will learn all about anthrax, the most likely weapon if biological warfare is ever waged." ―Paul Doty, Director Emeritus, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

"This book is an absorbing tale of an investigation into the anthrax epidemic that struck the Russian city of Sverdlovsk twenty years ago. But it can also be read as an important parable for our time because it deals with chemical and biological agents that the world is drawn to and yet does not really know how to handle." ―Kai Erikson, author of A New Species of Trouble

"Anthrax is the best book of medical detection since Berton Roueché’s Eleven Blue Men. Tracing her story from Cambridge to Yekaterinburg and back again, Guillemin weaves savvy epidemiology, Russian history, and American science into a compelling first-person narrative. An instant classic, Anthrax is not only a distinguished account of fieldwork in social science, but also a work of literature that addresses the larger issue of human survival in the face of global risk." ―Gerald Weissmann, M.D., author of Darwin’s Audubon and Democracy and DNA

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780520222045: Anthrax: The Investigation of a Deadly Outbreak

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ISBN 10:  0520222040 ISBN 13:  9780520222045
Publisher: University of California Press, 1999
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9780756769123: Anthrax: The Investigation of a Deadly Outbreak

Univ. ..., 1999
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Book Description University of California Press, United States, 2001. Paperback. Condition: New. Revised. Language: English. Brand new Book. In April of 1979 the city of Sverdlovsk in Russia's Ural Mountains was struck by a frightening anthrax epidemic. Official Soviet documents reported sixty-four human deaths resulting from the ingestion of tainted meat sold on the black market, but U.S. intelligence sources implied a different story, and the lack of documentation left unresolved questions. In her riveting investigation of the incident, Jeanne Guillemin unravels the mystery of what really happened during that tragic event in Sverdlovsk. Anthrax is a virulent and deadly bacteria whose spores can remain in soil for as long as seventy years, killing grazing animals and putting humans in jeopardy of eating infected meat. Contemporary concern is more centered on anthrax as an airborne biological weapon whose inhaled spores can result in ninety percent mortality for those infected. As part of a team of doctors and researchers, Jeanne Guillemin traveled to Russia in 1992 to determine the cause and extent of the epidemic. Her affecting narrative transforms a case of epidemiological investigation into a politically charged mystery.She creates a vivid sense of immediacy and drama with her insider's account of the team's investigative work--the analysis of pathology photos and slides, meetings with political and public health officials, the retrieval of essential medical data--and candidly reveals the subjective side of science as she conducts interviews with afflicted families, visits sites, and interacts with those suspected of clouding the truth. Complete with medical case information and three epidemiological maps, this classic account relates directly to growing concern over bioterrorism and how the United States and other nations should respond. In the final chapters Guillemin surveys past and present covert biological weapons arsenals scattered around the world and the international legal efforts to eliminate them. Seller Inventory # AAH9780520229174

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Book Description University of California Press, United States, 2001. Paperback. Condition: New. Revised. Language: English. Brand new Book. In April of 1979 the city of Sverdlovsk in Russia's Ural Mountains was struck by a frightening anthrax epidemic. Official Soviet documents reported sixty-four human deaths resulting from the ingestion of tainted meat sold on the black market, but U.S. intelligence sources implied a different story, and the lack of documentation left unresolved questions. In her riveting investigation of the incident, Jeanne Guillemin unravels the mystery of what really happened during that tragic event in Sverdlovsk. Anthrax is a virulent and deadly bacteria whose spores can remain in soil for as long as seventy years, killing grazing animals and putting humans in jeopardy of eating infected meat. Contemporary concern is more centered on anthrax as an airborne biological weapon whose inhaled spores can result in ninety percent mortality for those infected. As part of a team of doctors and researchers, Jeanne Guillemin traveled to Russia in 1992 to determine the cause and extent of the epidemic. Her affecting narrative transforms a case of epidemiological investigation into a politically charged mystery.She creates a vivid sense of immediacy and drama with her insider's account of the team's investigative work--the analysis of pathology photos and slides, meetings with political and public health officials, the retrieval of essential medical data--and candidly reveals the subjective side of science as she conducts interviews with afflicted families, visits sites, and interacts with those suspected of clouding the truth. Complete with medical case information and three epidemiological maps, this classic account relates directly to growing concern over bioterrorism and how the United States and other nations should respond. In the final chapters Guillemin surveys past and present covert biological weapons arsenals scattered around the world and the international legal efforts to eliminate them. Seller Inventory # AAH9780520229174

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