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Download The Demon in the Freezer: A True Story Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Demon in the Freezer: A True Story, by Richard Preston Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (4,209 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Richard Preston Narrator: J. Paul Boehmer, Paul Boehmer Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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 US 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, DC. 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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “[Blends] terror, technology, and trivia…[Preston] has probably done more than any other writer to establish a nationwide imperative to think about infectious agents as global threats and potential weapons.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Preston uses his considerable storytelling skills to show us the heroes who fought smallpox, not for money or glory but simply because they wanted to leave behind a better world than they had found.”

    Dallas Morning News

  • “Vivid testimony…The alarms he raises are real ones…With his genius for vivid detail and telling anecdote, Preston adds frissons of his own…His real métier lies in intimate and exhaustive interviews with experts on the front line.”


  • “Riveting…Better-than-fiction characters…Preston had terrific access to people and the facilities typically off-limits.”

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution

  • “Preston captivates…A frighteningly real account of the virus and its potential to explode globally.”

    Cleveland Plain Dealer

  • “Compelling…Preston charts the tragic miscalculations and the geopolitical maneuvers that led from the triumph of eradication to the possible threat of a deliberate epidemic…Preston is a master at explaining what’s important…A reminder of the lifesaving promise of global cooperation.”

    San Jose Mercury News

  • “Lyrical as well as explanatory…Preston is a helpful guide, translating complex scientific situations into everyday language.”

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

  • “Riveting…Startling new insights into the government’s reaction to the anthrax mailings.”

    Hartford Courant

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2002 Los Angeles Times Book Prize Nominee for Science and Technology

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jesselyn | 2/15/2014

    " If you enjoyed The Hot Zone or any other literary non-fiction about diseases or epidemiology, you'll certainly enjoy this. Much like The Hot Zone, but a look at smallpox, so it has more background history than ebola which I found very interesting. WARNING: SMALLPOX IS GROSS. Preston's graphic descriptions don't particularly both me, but this and his other books are not for those with weak stomaches. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Dan Rozelle | 2/10/2014

    " Had fun reading about smallpox while at a Poxvirus conference. Not quite as exciting as the Hot Zone but worth the read...especially if you're a scientist. More nice insight into the inner workings of RIID/CDC, however I always wonder how much is exaggerated to the point of becoming untrue? "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Robert Brase | 2/10/2014

    " If any one remembers the anthrax scare from a few years back here is the real story behind what was going on. Preston also tells how the same researchers that were working on the anthrax were playing with smallpox. And as cute of a name as it has, smallpox could be the real devastating bitch in a bottle. The people that work with these and other level 4 germies are some amazing folks. This is one of those books that, if you are interested in this type of thing, is not to be missed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Alice | 2/5/2014

    " 3 and a half stars. This book is mostly about the small pox virus. Although the small pox disease has been eradicated from the planet, the virus is stored in freezeers and, in the wrong hands could easily be used as a bioterrorist weapon. I wouldn't recommend this to most people who have trouble reading non-fiction. I like non-fiction and I found it interesting--somewhat dry, but easy to move over that material quickly without getting lost. "

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