Anthrax
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Anthrax : The Investigation of a Deadly Outbreak

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In April of 1979 the city of Sverdlovsk in Russia's Ural Mountains was struck by a frightening anthrax epidemic. Official Soviet documents reported sixty-four human deaths resulting from the ingestion of tainted meat sold on the black market, but U.S. intelligence sources implied a different story, and the lack of documentation left unresolved questions. In her riveting investigation of the incident, Jeanne Guillemin unravels the mystery of what really happened during that tragic event in Sverdlovsk. Anthrax is a virulent and deadly bacteria whose spores can remain in soil for as long as seventy years, killing grazing animals and putting humans in jeopardy of eating infected meat. Contemporary concern is more centered on anthrax as an airborne biological weapon whose inhaled spores can result in ninety percent mortality for those infected. As part of a team of doctors and researchers, Jeanne Guillemin traveled to Russia in 1992 to determine the cause and extent of the epidemic. Her affecting narrative transforms a case of epidemiological investigation into a politically charged mystery.
She creates a vivid sense of immediacy and drama with her insider's account of the team's investigative work--the analysis of pathology photos and slides, meetings with political and public health officials, the retrieval of essential medical data--and candidly reveals the subjective side of science as she conducts interviews with afflicted families, visits sites, and interacts with those suspected of clouding the truth. Complete with medical case information and three epidemiological maps, this classic account relates directly to growing concern over bioterrorism and how the United States and other nations should respond. In the final chapters Guillemin surveys past and present covert biological weapons arsenals scattered around the world and the international legal efforts to eliminate them.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 339 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 23.11mm | 499g
  • Berkerley, United States
  • English
  • 46 b-w photographs, 3 figures, 1 map
  • 0520229177
  • 9780520229174
  • 1,930,389

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"Jeanne Guillemin offers a riveting account of tracking down the causes of a public health calamity and penetrating layer upon layer of secrecy and obfuscation. She persuasively combines meticulous attention to scientific detail with alertness to the voice of those whose lives were changed by the crisis." --Sissela Bok, author of Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation and Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life

"Guillemin's book is a triple treat: it is a gripping detective story, a vivid portrayal of non-Moscow Russian life, and a standard-setting display of the scientific method at work. and there is a bonus: the reader will learn all about anthrax, the most likely weapon if biological warfare is ever waged." --Paul Doty, Director Emeritus, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

"This book is an absorbing tale of an investigation into the anthrax epidemic that struck the Russian city of Sverdlovsk twenty years ago. But it can also be read as an important parable for our time because it deals with chemical and biological agents that the world is drawn to and yet does not really know how to handle." --Kai Erikson, author of A New Species of Trouble

"Anthrax is the best book of medical detection since Berton Roueché's Eleven Blue Men. Tracing her story from Cambridge to Yekaterinburg and back again, Guillemin weaves savvy epidemiology, Russian history, and American science into a compelling first-person narrative. An instant classic, Anthrax is not only a distinguished account of fieldwork in social science, but also a work of literature that addresses the larger issue of human survival in the face of global risk." --Gerald Weissmann, M.D., author of Darwin's Audubon and Democracy and DNA
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Back cover copy

"Jeanne Guillemin offers a riveting account of tracking down the causes of a public health calamity and penetrating layer upon layer of secrecy and obfuscation. She persuasively combines meticulous attention to scientific detail with alertness to the voice of those whose lives were changed by the crisis." --Sissela Bok, author of "Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation and "Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life.

"Guillemin's book is a triple treat: it is a gripping detective story, a vivid portrayal of non-Moscow Russian life, and a standard-setting display of the scientific method at work. and there is a bonus: the reader will learn all about anthrax, the most likely weapon if biological warfare is ever waged." --Paul Doty, Director Emeritus, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

"This book is an absorbing tale of an investigation into the anthrax epidemic that struck the Russian city of Sverdlovsk twenty years ago. But it can also be read as an important parable for our time because it deals with chemical and biological agents that the world is drawn to and yet does not really know how to handle." --Kai Erikson, author of "A New Species of Trouble.

""Anthrax is the best book of medical detection since Berton Roueche's "Eleven Blue Men. Tracing her story from Cambridge to Yekaterinburg and back again, Guillemin weaves savvy epidemiology, Russian history, and American science into a compelling first-person narrative. An instant classic, "Anthrax is not only a distinguished account of fieldwork in social science, but also a work of literature that addresses the larger issue of human survival in the face of global risk."--Gerald Weissmann, M.D., author of "Darwin's Audubon and "Democracy and DNA.
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Table of contents

List of Figures Preface Principal Participants 1. Anthrax: Accursed Fire and Biological Weapon 2. Moscow: Fragments of Evidence 3. Moscow: Conflicting Visions 4. In the Urals: The Quest Begins 5. Autopsy Visions 6. The Community of the Dead: Vostochniy Cemetery 7. Abramova's Treasure 8. To Chkalovskiy Rayon 9. Constraints, Fears, Frustrations 10. on Doors 11. Public Health and Private Pain 12. The Unnatural Steals the Natural 13. Resignation 14. Vulnerability and Chance 15. The KGB List of Victims 16. Moscow Redux 17. Names Go to Places: Map Building Begins 18. Biological Weapons and Political Outbreaks 19. Manifestation 20. Mirage: The Animal Outbreak 21. Chkalovskiy: The Final Pieces 22. Do No Evil, See No Evil 23. The Summing Up 24. The Threat of Bioweapons 25. Return to Yekaterinburg 26. "The World Is Global" App. A. List of 1979 Sverdlovsk Anthrax Fatalities App. B. Summary of Case Data for Known Victims of the Sverdlovsk Anthrax Outbreak of 1979 Notes References Index
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Review quote

"An exhaustive, authoritative and scientifically responsible account of the largest epidemic of inhalation anthrax yet on record." - Ed Regis, Nature "An absorbing first-person account of an investigation into a mysterious 1979 anthrax epidemic in the Soviet Union, the worst ever recorded in a modern industrial nation.... Guillemin makes palpable the virulence of anthrax as a biological weapon, raises important accountability issues, and questions our own country's leadership in arms control." - Kirkus Reviews "A beautiful book.... It offers vivid insights into how scientists actually work - the ceaseless questioning from every conceivable angle whose goal is to eliminate doubt." - Boston Globe"
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About Jeanne Guillemin

Jeanne Guillemin is Professor of Sociology at Boston College and a senior fellow at the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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Rating details

26 ratings
3.57 out of 5 stars
5 12% (3)
4 42% (11)
3 38% (10)
2 8% (2)
1 0% (0)
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