A sobering exposé; required reading for anyone concerned with the state of our medical preparedness.



Worries over domestic terrorism rarely extend to biological weapons; if the authors are correct, that may be a fatal mistake.

Osterholm (former Epidemiologist in Chief for the state of Minnesota) and Washington Post reporter Schwartz present three fictional scenarios illustrating the raw potential of bioterrorism. The first, in which a lone terrorist spreads anthrax spores over a football stadium from a crop-dusting plane is frightening enough. But the real nightmare is the third, showing the probable effects of the release of smallpox in a Chicago shopping mall near Christmas season. This highly contagious disease, against which only a minority of the population now has any real immunity, would wreak havoc in a modern city—especially now that insurance plans have made hospitals pare back their facilities to the absolute minimum. The system is no better prepared for plague, tularemia, or botulism—the diseases most widely being developed as bioweapons. Osterholm points out the lack of training (one simulation showed that few medical personnel would even recognize the symptoms of anthrax), of vaccines, and of antidotes (the supplies currently in stock would barely suffice for emergency workers). Nor has the government recognized the distinctions between the kind of threat posed by bombs or chemicals and the more difficult problems (e.g., enforcing quarantines) inherent in an outbreak of infectious disease. Government officials cite Iraq’s failure to deploy biological weapons in the Gulf War as proof that the threat is still remote. That may be true for military weapons designed for battlefield delivery, says Osterholm, but the expertise necessary for a terrorist strike is within the reach of many graduate students. He concludes with a seven-point plan for change, addressing the key loopholes in our defenses.

A sobering exposé; required reading for anyone concerned with the state of our medical preparedness.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-385-33480-X

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2000

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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