Synopses & Reviews
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 workand#151;the analysis of pathology photos and slides, meetings with political and public health officials, the retrieval of essential medical dataand#151;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.
"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." and#151;Sissela Bok, author of Secrets: On the Ethics of Concealment and Revelation
and Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life
"Guilleminand#8217;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." and#151;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." and#151;Kai Erikson, author of A New Species of Trouble
"Anthrax is the best book of medical detection since Berton Rouechand#233;and#8217;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." and#151;Gerald Weissmann, M.D., author of Darwinand#8217;s Audubon and Democracy and DNA
About the Author
Jeanne Guillemin is Professor of Sociology at Boston College and a senior fellow at the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
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
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
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