Book Review | Biohazard

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“Since leaving Moscow I have encountered an alarming level of ignorance about biological weapons. Some of the best scientists I’ve encountered in the West say it isn’t possible to alter viruses genetically to make reliable weapons, or to store enough of a give pathogen for strategic purposes, or to deliver it in a way that assures maximum killing power. My knowledge and experience tell me that they are wrong. I have written this book to explain why.
There are some who maintain that discussing the subject will cause needless alarm. But existing defenses against these weapons are dangerously inadequate, and when biological terror strikes, as I am convinced it will, public ignorance will only heighten the disaster. The first step we must take to protect ourselves is to understand what biological weapons are and how they work. The alternative is to remain as helpless as the monkeys in the Aral Sea.”
Ken Alibek, Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World–Told from the Inside by the Man Who Ran It

Ever since I played Resident Evil when I was little I have always had a fascination with biological weaponry. Strictly from a fictional viewpoint, of course. Which is where biological, viral weaponry should have stayed. I really wish Biohazard was fictional. Unfortunately the story detailed in this book is real, or as close to real as one is likely to get from a defected member of Russia’s bioweaponry department.

You see, as a reader, I was skeptical of all the facts presented in this book. Why would someone who called Russia his home for so long suddenly spill all of its secrets with no fear of reprimand? Why was he allowed to go public with the information he had? Not only does he discuss Russia’s side of things. He discusses America’s as well. While I don’t doubt the authenticity of his story, I read this book with grains of salt. How much was fiction? How much was real? And is hydrogen peroxide really enough to sanitize a lab room that was infected with a virus?

This book is a slow burner. There was no way I could plow through this in one sitting, just because I’m the kind of reader who likes to let things soak in, and this was a deep read that required many breaks. Despite this, the first three quarters of the book were easy reading. It could be defined as boring in some places because of the amount of detail paid to the description of scientific causes, effects, and procedures, but for the most part, it was a devourable read.

The last few chapters close out the book nicely by discussing Americas cures, vaccines, and safety precautions that are now in place to combat the ill-effects of his previous work. As he stated, more or less, was that this book was his attempt at making up for all the wrongdoings he did as a member of Biopreparate.

I feel that this book is vastly important and a must read for anyone who has even the smallest interest in war, Russia, America, military techniques, or bioweapons. And if you don’t have an interest in any of those things, I still recommend this book. It is heavy with politics and if nothing else is a quick history lesson into who was in power during the Cold War era in Russia and America. Very informative, and quite enjoyable.

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