Anthrax. Plague. Smallpox. Ebola. These are the weapons of the future—microscopic organisms produced in laboratories and unleashed on unwitting populations to reproduce, spread, and kill. They are as deadly as atomic bombs, much cheaper to create, and much easier to distribute—inside a warhead on an intercontinental missile, in an aerosol can sprayed in a crowded building, or by a crop-duster flying over a major city. Exposure occurs without warning. Infection from only a few minute particles can mean a ghastly and painful death. The kill rates are staggering.
Modern biological warfare began during the 1930s, when the Japanese Army conducted atrocious experiments on Chinese prisoners using lethal bacteria. During the Cold War, both the Soviet Union and the U.S. rushed to build biological weapons programs. In 1972, the Biological Weapons Convention banned the development of bioweapons, supposedly ending the threat.
But the threat was only beginning. Plague Wars tells the stories of the secret battles that are still being waged in many nations, stories filled with international espionage, deceptions, and treachery. Recently, defectors and covert sources from third-world governments such as Iraq have revealed active biological weapons programs, despite international arms inspectors' attempts to eradicate them. A U.S. war game to prepare for a North Korean biological attack went so horribly wrong that the results are still classified. In South Africa, the use of bioweapons represents one of the last untold secrets of the apartheid battles, while in Zimbabwe, people are still dying of anthrax from the dirty wars of independence fought two decades ago. Fringe cults, apocalyptic madmen, and terrorists groups everywhere claim to own bioweapons, and are threatening to use them. Major Western cities are busily planning defenses against such an attack.
Researched across four continents with exceptional access to many sources from the United Nations, U.S. Department of Defense, and various civilian and military intelligence agencies, and using previously classified government documents, Tom Mangold and Jeff Goldberg have written the definitive account of the state of biological warfare in the world today.