Book Reviews

Go To Hopkins & Company Homepage

Go to Executive Times Archives


Go to Book Review List


Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War by Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg and William Broad




Click on title or picture to buy from



Wash Your Hands

In the aftermath of September 11, many people are reading about what other horrors could face citizens around the world as a war on terror develops. Three New York Times writers have collaborated to present a comprehensive investigative story about biological weapons in a new book, Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War. Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg and William Broad take readers around the world on a story that examines the development of biological weapons that have the power to destroy all human life. If that’s not scary enough for you, especially in light of the recent anthrax deaths, the revelations of what former Soviet scientists developed, and the weak security surrounding these germs, will likely cause you to lose a little sleep.

Here’s an excerpt about the Soviet work:

“Scientists had long struggled to overcome disease. Yet here at Stepnogorsk, the Soviet Union had spent billions of dollars mobilizing disease for war. It had devoted some of its best brains, virtually unlimited resources, and Russian science itself to the mass production of epidemics – a strategy as chilling as it was perverse. Stepnogorsk was a standby production facility, on orders to produce mass quantities of germs in the event of an international crisis. Disease by the ton was its industry.”

At the end of the book, the authors conclude:

“Is the threat of germ weapons real or exaggerated? Our answer is both. At key points in recent years, senior officials overstated the danger of biological attack, harming their cause with hyperbole. In most conditions, a five-pound bag of anthrax could kill many people, but not as many as half the inhabitants of Washington, D.C. Similarly, political leaders undermined their credibility by asserting that a biological attack against the United States was inevitable in the next few years – a matter of ‘not if, but when.’”

“If we as a nation believe that the germ threat is a hoax, we are spending too much money on it. But if the danger is real, as we conclude it is, then the investment is much too haphazard and diffuse. We remain woefully unprepared for a calamity that would be unlike any this country has ever experienced.”

If this is subject about which you want to become informed, Germs provides a very effective starting point for your gathering of information.

Steve Hopkins, December 26, 2001


ã 2001 Hopkins and Company, LLC