”We remain woefully unprepared for a calamity that would be unlike any this country has ever experienced.” That’s the last line of Germs, and by the time you get there, the point has been chillingly made by a trio of New York Times journalists. From the birth of bio-weapons to the now-obvious danger of their use in terrorism, this slim, readable book clearly demonstrates why these instruments of mass destruction are considered the poor man’s atom bomb — cheaply constructed and undeniably lethal. The names pop — Anthrax, Marburg, Ebola, Plague — but the tone is measured, highlighting risks (the proliferation of Soviet-trained bio-weapons experts- for-hire is particularly troubling) and rarely straying into alarmism. The result is a revealing piece of work that pulses with danger and grim prognostication.

Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War
  • Book