"The bard of biological weapons captures the drama of
the front lines."
Richard Danzig, former secretary of the navy
The first major bioterror event in the United States the
anthrax attacks in October 2001--was a clarion call for scientists
who work with "hot" agents to find ways of protecting
civilian populations against biological weapons. In The Demon
in the Freezer, his first nonfiction book since The Hot Zone,
a #1 New York Times bestseller, Richard Preston takes us into the
heart of USAMRIID, the United States Army Medical Research Institute
of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland, once the headquarters
of the U.S. biological weapons program and now the epicenter of
Peter Jahrling, the top scientist at USAMRIID, a wry virologist
who cut his teeth on Ebola, one of the world's most lethal emerging
viruses, has ORCON security clearance that gives him access to top-secret
information on bioweapons. His most urgent priority is to develop
a drug that will take on smallpox and win. Eradicated from
the planet in 1979 in one of the great triumphs of modern science,
the smallpox virus now resides, officially, in only two high-security
freezersone at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta
and in Siberia, at a Russian virology institute called Vector. But
the demon in the freezer has been set loose. It is almost certain
that illegal stocks are in the possession of hostile states, including
Iraq and North Korea. Jahrling is haunted by the thought that biologists
in secret labs are using the techniques of genetic engineering to
create a new superpox virus a smallpox that is resistant
to all vaccines.
USAMRIID went into a state of Delta Alert on September 11th and
activated its emergency response teams when the first anthrax letters
were opened in New York and Washington, D.C. Preston reports, in
unprecedented detail, on the government's response to the attacks
and takes us into the ongoing FBI investigation. His story is based
on interviews with top-level FBI agents.
Jahrling is leading a team of scientists doing controversial experiments
with live smallpox, reawakening the virus at the CDC. Preston dramatizes
this work and the conflict it has provoked within the scientific
community, and he explains, with cool and devastating precision,
what may be at stake if his last bold experiment fails.
Advance Praise for The Demon in the Freezer
"Richard Preston has brought us another book that reads like a top-notch thriller. Would that it were fiction. As the movie unfolds in your mind, remember this: It can happen here."
-- Laurie Garrett, author of The Coming Plague
"The Demon in the Freezer is fascinating, frightening, and important. It reads like a thriller, but the demons are real. Richard Preston has a 'black patent' on this kind of reporting and storytelling. He is the only writer on the scene who can make the inside story of biological weapons so darkly entertaining. Read this book and pray that its heroes can lock the demon back in the freezer."
-- Jonathan Weiner, author of The Beak and the Finch
"It reads like a thriller, but the demons are
real. Richard Preston has a 'black patent' on this kind of reporting
and storytelling. He is the only writer on the scene who can make
the inside story of biological weapons so darkly entertaining."
"This book will give you nightmares. ... Richard Preston does for
smallpox what he did for the deadly Ebola virus in his 1994 best
seller, "The Hot Zone": by jump-cutting among narrative strands, he
turns a story about science and medicine into a theme-park ride of a
-- Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
The Demon in the
Random House | History - Military - Chemical; Science - Biochemistry
| October 2002 | $24.95
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