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The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston
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The Demon in the Freezer (2002)

by Richard Preston

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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
The Demon in the Freezer (2002) is a memorable title by a talented writer, it has been on my to-read list for 17 years. Unfortunately I waited too long as the information it contains is now outdated and incomplete, the people it describes mostly retired or dead, and events have moved on considerably. Nevertheless, one will come away with the visceral understanding that smallpox is the worst disease human beings have ever known. If you didn't already know the Soviets manufactured smallpox by the ton this will be scary, but a much better book on this is The Dead Hand (2011) which won a Pulitzer for good reason - it will change your life in a way this book can only hint at. The other problem is Preston focused on the anthrax attacks of 2001, which took a good decade or more to solve (if it ever was) so he was very early in that investigation and much has since changed. The writing is great but the story is fading. Preston's The Hot Zone (1994) is older but holds up better as it described a discrete event with a clear open and close, it is also a great primer on the Ebola virus. ( )
  Stbalbach | Mar 4, 2019 |
Quite a well written and frightening account of weaponized smallpox and anthrax. His previous book, The Hot Zone is a much better read. ( )
  Scorched_Earth | Oct 27, 2018 |
I absolutely loved this book; it was a page-turner that I could not put down. Richard Preston has crafted a book that highlights the severity of smallpox, the importance of research from a number of scientists, and the horrifying threat that an "eradicated" or "extinct" virus continues to pose on national security. This book is a great introduction to smallpox and virology, and certainly peaked my interested; I will definitely continue to read about the subject. There were several chapters on Ebola and Anthrax that did not wrap up and left me hanging, but I was still fascinated by how these seemingly unrelated viruses are tied to smallpox. The chilling imagery of the symptoms of these viruses will haunt me for a while. A fascinating book that I would recommend to anyone. ( )
  bookishblond | Oct 24, 2018 |
Long story short: Smallpox. Bioterrorism. Forget about your potty debates. We're all doomed. The end.

However, I do highly recommend reading the longer version! Just beware, it may make for some sleepless nights and/or paranoia.

Notes from my 2013 attempt at reading the book: Good book, just scares the hell out of me! Hopefully I can gather my wits about me enough to be able to finish this one day! ( )
  catzkc | Mar 23, 2018 |
Preston always delivers a gut wrenching read on the possibilities and probabilities of things we don't really think about, in this case smallpox and biological weapons with a sideline look at anthrax. It is interesting to mull over the 'what if?' and know that as a society we think ourselves safe, but in reality we would have very little chance against a weaponised form of smallpox. After-all, how do you contain something for which we have no natural immunity, immunisations have become ineffective and governments have destroyed current stockpiles since the disease should no longer naturally exist? A frightening thought. ( )
  KatiaMDavis | Dec 19, 2017 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard Prestonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Naughton, JamesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Chance favors the prepared mind.
—Louis Pasteur
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This book is lovingly dedicated to Michelle
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In the early nineteen seventies, a British photo retoucher named Robert Stevens arrived in south Florida to take a job at the National Enquirer, which is published in Palm Beach County.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345466632, Mass Market Paperback)

On December 9, 1979, smallpox, the most deadly human virus, ceased to exist in nature. After eradication, it was confined to freezers located in just two places on earth: the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and the Maximum Containment Laboratory in Siberia. But these final samples were not destroyed at that time, and now secret stockpiles of smallpox surely exist. For example, since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the subsequent end of its biological weapons program, a sizeable amount of the former Soviet Union's smallpox stockpile remains unaccounted for, leading to fears that the virus has fallen into the hands of nations or terrorist groups willing to use it as a weapon. Scarier yet, some may even be trying to develop a strain that is resistant to vaccines. This disturbing reality is the focus of this fascinating, terrifying, and important book.

A longtime contributor to The New Yorker and author of the bestseller The Hot Zone, Preston is a skillful journalist whose work flows like a science fiction thriller. Based on extensive interviews with smallpox experts, health workers, and members of the U.S. intelligence community, The Demon in the Freezer details the history and behavior of the virus and how it was eventually isolated and eradicated by the heroic individuals of the World Health Organization. Preston also explains why a battle still rages between those who want to destroy all known stocks of the virus and those who want to keep some samples alive until a cure is found. This is a bitterly contentious point between scientists. Some worry that further testing will trigger a biological arms race, while others argue that more research is necessary since there are currently too few available doses of the vaccine to deal with a major outbreak. The anthrax scare of October, 2001, which Preston also writes about in this book, has served to reinforce the present dangers of biological warfare.

As Preston eloquently states in this powerful book, this scourge, once contained, was let loose again due to human weakness: "The virus's last strategy for survival was to bewitch its host and become a source of power. We could eradicate smallpox from nature, but we could not uproot the virus from the human heart." --Shawn Carkonen

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:37 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A true-life thriller about the return of smallpox in an engineered form. Eradicated in 1979, smallpox now has crept onto the international black market, where it is prized as the mother of all biological weapons. This is the story of a crusade by three doctors to stay a step ahead of the bioterrorists and neutralize the most contagious pathogen known.… (more)

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