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Books, Journals, New Media
December 14, 2005


Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; Journal Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University.

JAMA. 2005;294(22):2914-2915. doi:10.1001/jama.294.22.2914

In this book, Jeanne Guillemin offers a history of state-sponsored programs to develop biological weapons and of international attempts to restrict and limit research and development of such weapons. The book’s importance lies in the very real threat that use of biological weapons, especially by terrorist organizations, poses to both the United States and the international community.

Guillemin examines the military, political, and social influences on the development of biological weapons and the restraints that, historically, have inhibited their use. Perhaps most interesting are the final chapters, which analyze the threat posed by the potential use of biological weapons by terrorists and the post-September 11, 2001, restrictions that have been placed on scientific research involving agents that could be used to develop biological weapons. Guillemin’s analysis is sound, and her call for transparency and international cooperation in allowing the free flow of information about biological weapons and their threat, particularly concerning international nonproliferation efforts, is informed by a sophisticated understanding of the international nature of the threat posed by misused biological agents.

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