Summary and book reviews of The Demon In The Freezer by Richard Preston

The Demon In The Freezer

by Richard Preston

The Demon In The Freezer
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2002, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2003, 304 pages

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Book Summary

A team of leading US scientists are doing controversial experiments with live smallpox virus at CDC. Preston takes us into the lab where they are reawakening smallpox and explains, with cool and devastating precision, what may be at stake if this last bold experiment fails.

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 national biodefense.

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 freezers--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 genetic engineering to create a new superpox virus, a smallpox resistant to all vaccines.

Usamriid went into a state of Delta Alert on September 11 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 and with Dr. Steven Hatfill.

Jahrling is leading a team of scientists doing controversial experiments with live smallpox virus at CDC. Preston takes us into the lab where Jahrling is reawakening smallpox and explains, with cool and devastating precision, what may be at stake if his last bold experiment fails.

Chapter 1
Something in the Air Journey Inward

OCTOBER 26, 2001

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. At the time, photo retouchers for supermarket tabloids used an airbrush (nowadays they use computers) to clarify news photographs of world leaders shaking hands with aliens or to give more punch to pictures of six-month-old babies who weigh three hundred pounds. Stevens was reputed to be one of the best photo retouchers in the business. The Enquirer was moving away from stories like "I Ate My Mother-in-Law's Head," and the editors recruited him to bring some class to the paper. They offered him much more than he made working for tabloids in Britain.

Stevens was in his early thirties when he moved to Florida. He bought a red Chevy pickup truck, and he put a CB radio in it and pasted an American-flag decal in the back window and ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

... a flair for teasing out, without overstatement, the drama in his inherently compelling topics, plus a prose style that's simple and forceful, make this book as exciting as the best thrillers, yet scarier by far, for Preston's pages deal with clear, present and very real dangers.

Library Journal

In an account that might well be called Return of the Hot Zone, Preston sends out alarms that smallpox could reenter our midst and what's worse, in genetically engineered form.

Kirkus Reviews

Preston guides us deftly on another scary excursion (Hot Zone, 1994) into the world of really bad viruses—this time smallpox, with a side helping of anthrax....Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide from microscopic infectious agents? Welcome to Mr. Preston’s frightening neighborhood.

Author Blurb Richard Danzig, former secretary of the navy
The bard of biological weapons captures the drama of the front lines.

Author Blurb Laurie Garrett, author of The Coming Plague
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.

Author Blurb Jonathan Weiner, author of The Beak of the Finch
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.

Reader Reviews

Selena

My View On This Book
I feel that this book was very well written and good in general because it shows the truth scientifically. I do have to read this book as it relates to school and the study of viruses. In conclusion, very well written and I recommend this book to ...   Read More

shamika

demon in the freezer
I really like this book because it tells me all about the viruses in the world, even the ones that can kill and harm you as well. I think that people should read this book.

Master

THRILLING!!!!!



rafa-el

Demons in the Freezer point to Cepheid move into Polymerase Chain Reaction Technology!
The company will lead this new industry and make shareholders handsome returns in 2004 on beyone!
PCR Rules!

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