America is one killer organism away from a living nightmare that threatens all we hold dear....
A deadly cloud of powdered anthrax spores settles unnoticed over a crowded football stadium.... A school cafeteria lunch is infected with a drug-resistant strain of E. coli.... Thousands in a bustling shopping mall inhale a lethal mist of smallpox, turning each individual into a highly infectious agent of suffering and death....
Dr. Michael Osterholm knows all too well the horrifying scenarios he describes. In this eye-opening account, the nation’s leading expert on bioterrorism sounds a wake-up call to the terrifying threat of biological attack — and America’s startling lack of preparedness.
He demonstrates the havoc these silent killers can wreak, exposes the startling ease with which they can be deployed, and asks probing questions about America’s ability to respond to such attacks.
Are most doctors and emergency rooms able to diagnose correctly and treat anthrax, smallpox, and other potential tools in the bioterrorist’s arsenal? Is the government developing the appropriate vaccines and treatments?
The answers are here in riveting detail — what America has and hasn’t done to prevent the coming bioterrorist catastrophe. Impeccably researched, grippingly told, Living Terrors presents the unsettling truth about the magnitude of the threat. And more important, it presents the ultimate insider’s prescription for change: what we must do as a nation to secure our freedom, our future, our lives.
With the help of Washington Post science writer Schwartz, Osterholm (formerly chief state epidemiologist in Minnesota) sounds a frightening alarm in this compact book. "I do not believe it is a question of whether a lone terrorist or terrorist group will use infectious disease agents to kill unsuspecting citizens," he writes. "I'm convinced it's really just a question of when and where." Combining urgent, fact-filled prose with a series of fictional scenarios, the book outlines the scope of the potential threat. Osterholm introduces the various types of people and organizations he thinks might be planning to unleash an epidemic on a major U.S. city; he covers the six diseases that pose the greatest threat (such as anthrax and smallpox); he explains how underprepared we are for such an attack; and he proposes a "seven-point plan for change" (including stockpiling antibiotics and vaccines). Its hard to know whether Osterholm's panic is justified, as he prudently declines to get into the sort of detail that could facilitate a terrorist attack. But although the threats he describes are bone-chilling, his pro-public health, seven-point plan is sensible and compelling.