Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Scourge

The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox

by Jonathan Tucker

“A well-written, informative history of the eradication of smallpox disease. The author’s authoritative command of the intrigue surrounding the ‘stay of execution” of the virus itself and its potential use as an agent for biologic warfare makes the latter portion of the book read much like a modern spy thriller, one that is difficult to put aside as recent events continue to unfold. . . . A superb and engaging factual treatise–both historical and scientific–dealing with the impact of this highly contagious and often lethal infection from ancient times to the present.” –David L. Dunn, New England Journal of Medicine

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 336
  • Publication Date September 16, 2002
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-3939-9
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $14.00

About The Book

Hailed by Library Journal as one of the Best Books of 2001, Scourge has been acclaimed by The New York Times Book Review as “a concise, suspenseful and scientifically accurate narrative.”

A Washington Post Best Book of 2001, Scourge provides a definitive account of the dramatic story of smallpox by a leading “expert on biological and chemical weapons’ (The New York Times). Jonathan B. Tucker traces the history of the smallpox virus from its first recorded outbreak around 3700 b.c. through its use as the first biological warfare agent in human history, and draws some decisively important lessons for the future.

In a timely debate, Tucker addresses the ever-growing concerns about the proliferation of the deadly smallpox virus and its use by terrorist organizations. Explaining how the eradication of the disease in the late 1970s encouraged military research and production of the virus, he exposes the failure of the Russian government to secure its remaining cold-war stockpiles, and evaluates the past and present measures undertaken by the United States to counter the existing dangers of a smallpox attack. Ultimately, he passionately argues for the strengthening of the existing legal ban on the development and possession of biological weapons.

Impeccably researched, Scourge is as arresting as it is indispensable, and as William Beatty in Booklist raves, Tucker “has a sense of both the detail and the broad sweep of history that helps him make the story of smallpox as disease and as weapon fascinating and frightening.”

Praise

“A concise, suspenseful, and scientifically accurate narrative.”–The New York Times Book Review

“[Tucker] reports the debate evenhandedly and with telling detail.”–David Brown, The Washington Post Book World

“A well-written, informative history of the eradication of smallpox disease. The author’s authoritative command of the intrigue surrounding the ‘stay of execution” of the virus itself and its potential use as an agent for biologic warfare makes the latter portion of the book read much like a modern spy thriller, one that is difficult to put aside as recent events continue to unfold. . . . A superb and engaging factual treatise–both historical and scientific–dealing with the impact of this highly contagious and often lethal infection from ancient times to the present.” –David L. Dunn, New England Journal of Medicine

“Forcibly argued . . . well-written and thoughtful.” –Howard Markel, Harper’s

“Jonathan B. Tucker’s fascinating, revealing book affords the reader a sobering look at this new type of warfare. . . . A highly informative and important work

.”–Chris Patsilelis, Houston Chronicle

“Riveting with a broad sense of the history. [Tucker] treats the risks of small pox evenhandedly without sensationalism. The prose is clear and crisp without excessive medical jargon. A compelling read.” –James Horton, Charlotte Observer

“Tucker offers a whirlwind tour of small pox’s role in shaping world history (ravaging royal families, altering the outcome of wars, and decimating the native populations in North and South America), and in the process he shares anecdotes both interesting and appalling. . . . In addition to providing a very readable history . . . Tucker raises important questions that received little attention during last year’s smallpox speculation frenzy.” –Troy K. Schneider, National Journal

“A political scientist and an expert on bio-weapons analysis, Tucker provides an engrossing look at the continuing debate.”–Library Journal (starred review)

“Tucker, an expert in biological weapons, has a sense of both the detail and the broad sweep of history that helps him make the story of smallpox as disease and as weapon fascinating and frightening. Tucker describes in detail the long struggle over maintaining research stocks of the virus–an effort that rather leaves smallpox as a terrorist weapon looming threateningly over this well-written, thoroughly documented book.”–William Beatty, Booklist

“A true-life tale of heroes and villains, frighteningly real and marvelously told.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Jonathan Tucker vividly recounts the riveting history of mankind’s greatest scourge, following smallpox from the time of the Egyptian pharaohs right up through the present, as the U.S. prepares to stockpile vaccine once more, against the possibility that it may be released through the deliberate action of a terrorist group or rogue state. This is a compelling story to read and ponder.”–Steven M. Block, Professor of Biological Sciences, Stanford University

“Tucker describes the ravages caused by the disease and succinctly traces its role in history. . . . The book is difficult to put down.”–Publishers Weekly