Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet
S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; David H. Morse, MS, University
of Southern California, Norris Medical Library, Journal Review Editor; adviser
for new media, Robert Hogan, MD, San Diego.
The Greatest Killer: Smallpox in History is
a republication of Princes and Peasants, published
in 1983. The author worked in the World Health Organization's Smallpox Eradication
Program and wrote Princes and Peasants while he was
assistant director for International Health at the Centers for Disease Control.
Princes and Peasants ended with a description
of the successful eradication of smallpox worldwide. The
Greatest Killer opens with a new introduction in which Hopkins addresses
the possibility that smallpox may be resurrected for use as a weapon of biological
terror. Hopkins poses a number of questions, which must remain unanswered
for now, about who may have access to known or unknown stockpiles of the virus
and whether and how a vulnerable populace should be vaccinated. Given the
risks of smallpox vaccination, Hopkins asks, "Would we be justified in causing
the deaths of random individuals through an attempt to guard against something
that may never happen?"
Wear DJ. Smallpox. JAMA. 2003;289(9):1171-1173. doi:10.1001/jama.289.9.1171-a