Bracing for Armageddon?: The Science and Politics of Bioterrorism in America

Bracing for Armageddon?: The Science and Politics of Bioterrorism in America

by William R. Clark

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Since September 11th, the threat of a bioterrorist attack--massive, lethal, and unpreventable--has hung in the air over America. Bracing for Armageddon? offers a vividly written primer for the general reader, shedding light on the science behind potential bioterrorist attacks and revealing what could happen, what is likely to happen, and what almost certainly will not happen. The story opens with a riveting account of a bioterrorism scenario commissioned by the U.S. government. Using this doomsday tableau as a springboard, Clark reviews a host of bioterrorist threats (from agroterrorism to a poisoning of the water supply) and examines not only the worst-case menace of genetically engineered pathogens, but also the lethal agents on the CDC's official bioterrorism list, including Smallpox, Anthrax, Plague, Botulism, and Ebola. His overview of attempted bioterrorist attacks to date--such as the failed Aum Shinrikyo attempts in 1995 in Japan and the Anthrax attack in the US following 9/11--bolstered by interviews with a range of experts--shows why virtually all of these attempts have failed. Indeed, he demonstrates that a successful bioterrorism attack is exceedingly unlikely, while a major flu epidemic (such as the deadly epidemic of 1918 that killed millions worldwide) is a virtual certainty. Given the long odds of a bioterrorist attack, Clark asks, has the more than $40 billion the United States has dedicated to the defense against bioterrorism really been well spent? Is it time to move on to other priorities? In contrast to the alarmist fears stoked by the popular media, William Clark here provides a reassuring overview of what we really need to worry about--and what we don't.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780199714490
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 05/16/2008
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 948 KB

About the Author

William R. Clark is Professor and Chair Emeritus of Immunology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is an internationally recognized authority on the killer T lymphocytes involved in organ transplant rejection and in viral immunity. He has written extensively on topics in science and medicine for the general public.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     v
Preface     vii
Tales of a Dark Winter: A Play in Three Acts     3
A Brief History of Bioterrorism     21
Agents of Terror     41
Genetically Modified Pathogens     57
The Ultimate Bioterrorist: Mother Nature!     71
Agroterrorism: The Very Food on Your Plate (and the Water in Your Glass)     93
America Responds     109
Political, Legal, and Social Issues in a National Health Emergency     133
The Politics of Bioterrorism in America     149
Assessing the Threat     161
Notes     191
Glossary     201
Index     207

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