The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World--Told from the Inside by the Man Who Ran It
Ken Alibek & Stephen Handelman
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Imagine a hot zone in which Ebola is being spliced—using the latest techniques of genetic engineering—with smallpox, the most infectious disease known to man. Now imagine that cocktail is meant for you.
For fifty years, while the world stood in terror of a nuclear war, Russian scientists hidden in heavily guarded secret cities refined and stockpiled a new kind of weapon of mass destruction—an invisible weapon that would strike in silence and could not be traced. It would leave hundreds of thousands dead in its wake and would continue to spread devastation long after its release. The scientists were bioweaponeers, working to perfect the tools of a biological Armageddon. They called it their Manhattan Project. It was the deadliest and darkest secret of the cold war.
What you are about to read has never before been made public. Ken Alibek began his career as a doctor wanting to save lives and ended up running the Soviet biological weapons program—a secret military empire masquerading as a pharmaceutical company. At its peak, the program employed sixty thousand people at over one hundred facilities. Seven reserve mobilization plants were on permanent standby, ready to produce hundreds of tons of plague, anthrax, smallpox, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis, to name only a few of the toxic agents bred in Soviet labs. Almost every government ministry was implicated, including the Academy of Sciences and the KGB.
Biohazard is a terrifying, fast-paced account of tests and leaks, accidents and disasters in the labs, KGB threats and assassinations. The book is full of revelations—evidence of biowarfare programs in Cuba and India, actual deployments at Stalingrad and in Afghanistan, experiments with mood-altering agents, a contingency plan to attack major American cities, and the true story behind the mysterious anthrax outbreak in Sverdlovsk. But beyond these is a twisted world of lies and mirrors, and the riveting parable of the greatest perversion of science in history.
No one knows the actual capabilities of biological weapons better than Dr. Alibek. Many of the scientists who worked with him have been lured away from low-paying Russian labs to rogue regimes and terrorist groups around the world. In our lifetime, we will most likely see a terrorist attack using biological weapons on an American city. Biohazard tells us—in chilling detail—what to expect and what we can do. Not since Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon has there been such a book—a report from inside the belly of the beast.
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
From the Hardcover edition.
The need for vigilance
Having read this book, I'm now "sleepless in my residence" and hoping my government remains ever vigilant.
Excellent first person account of Cold War intrigue.
I found it interesting and often compelling, but it can get a bit technical, but not overly so. The most interesting parts to me related to the political and espionage intrigue and the general description of the types of weapons, their development, and their capabilities. The more technical biochemical descriptions were a bit dry but not unbearably so.