Germs by Judith Miller et al is a fascinating piece of nonfiction that explores the history of biological weapons development in the United States and Soviet Union. The content of this book is, in a word, frightening.. The authors serve to sort out the differences between the hype and the facts. Clarification, however, is not the frightening part. That aspect comes from the a description of the federal budget money game played by the myriad of agencies which see concepts like “biological defense research ” and it “Civilian defense” as an excellent excuse used to increase their pay and buy new office furniture.

Throughout 12 chapters, the authors paint a government where analysts believe that biological weapons are a threat while the military believes it to be imaginary; a government where crooked administrators ordered the development of garbage equipment like “Biological detectors” and early warning systems in order to justify their agency existence; a government where the CIA designed a biological weapons without the knowledge of the president; a government of where Congress refused to pay Russian scientists what they needed until it was already too late.

On the Soviet side, the authors describe a nation with thousands of intelligent and ambitious scientists who follow the instructions of Moscow to create the deadliest biological weapons program that will likely ever exist. From anthrax to botulinum to smallpox to plague, Soviet scientists created a metric ton upon metric ton of death in their paranoia that the United States would never possibly honor the ton 1972 biological weapons Convention.

To the credit of the U.S., and particularly to the credit of Nixon, the U.S. offensive biological weapons program did indeed end in 1972. Acting under the advice of Kissinger, Nixon believed that research into biological weapons would make warfare cheaper and more accessible to poor nations. Under a nuclear paradigm, warfare was very expensive and only accessible to a few nations. Nixon hoped that by convincing the Soviets to also cease research into biological weapons, such knowledge could be suppressed.

Obviously, that didn’t happen.

Soviet research transcended the manufacturer of natural bacteria and moved into ways of forcing the human body to kill itself by activating naturally occurring chemicals and processes. The Soviets were decades ahead of the U.S. in the area of vaccination and deployment of vaccines. Their paranoia drove their science to new heights. Little did they know that the U.S. government was simply an incompetent collection of minor, self-serving autocrats.

This review won’t get into the utterly shocking debacle commonly known as “The government”. suffice it to say, the chapters on Iraq, weapons inspections, and the budgetary effects of Clinton evangelism are enlightening to say the least. Without a doubt, the best parts of this book involve the outcome of every animal and human that was merely exposed to a biological agent.

Here’s a hint: nobody lives.

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