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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 (4,225 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Richard Preston Narrator: James Naughton Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged 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.”

    Newsday

  • “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

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Katie | 2/19/2014

    " Very interesting and well written book "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Avel | 2/18/2014

    " This books is Richard Preston's second best, the first being The Hot Zone. It describes not only the threat of smallpox and history of smallpox in detail, but also the different types of smallpox that are possible. He obviously did some research over a long period of time in order to come up with the facts that he did. Originally, I think the book was meant to be written to describe smallpox, but during the writing of the book, 9-11 occurred and he goes on to talk about the anthrax threats that occurred after 9-11 as well as other biological threats received after 9-11. I recommend this book to anyone who's ever been interested in learning more about biological warfare. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Marilyn Mcentyre | 2/17/2014

    " Preston raises awareness about disease and bioterrorist threats in a way that doesn't simply terrorize, but educates and motivates. He tells a compelling story, does meticulous research, and is doing a great public service by doing homework we all need to know about. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Devin L. | 2/2/2014

    " Holy moley, this book was terrifying. Scary thing is, this book came out in 2002. Much more has happened surrounding this topic since then (as was outlined in my virology class). Even scarier, though, is the fact that it's all true. Studying microbiology as I do, I lose sleep over things like this. Always the 'What If?' that gets to me. Anyway, very good book. Well written, terrifying, and very enlightening. "

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