Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War” as Want to Read:
Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  728 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
In the wake of the anthrax letters following the attacks on the World Trade Center, Americans have begun to grapple with two difficult truths: that there is no terrorist threat more horrifying -- and less understood -- than germ warfare, and that it would take very little to mount a devastating attack on American soil. In Germs, three veteran reporters draw on top sources ...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published February 1st 2012 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Germs, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Germs

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,523)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
So, about a week ago I had the desire to settle down on the couch with a good martini and read a book on bio-warfare (I know I am weird that way). I went to the library and thought that this one looked pretty good. I started it the day before yesterday and was enjoying it. Then I got to the part right after the first Gulf War, and things started to get strange. The author kept mentioning how the coalition forces did not destroy all of Sadam’s bio-weapon factories, and he hid most of them from th ...more
Linus Williams
Dec 01, 2015 Linus Williams rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you are a fan of thinking that the world is, by and large, safe and that we have weathered the storm of the cold war without any major apocalypses happening, then this book will shatter that thinking.

Broad and Miller look at the bioweapons programs of the US, Russia, and Iraq, and how bioweapons featured prominently in geopolitical posturing from the end of WW2 on. Along the way, they scare the bejeezus out of the reader, though with good reason.

We all know the stories about how close the wor
Apr 14, 2016 Charles rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Rather dull and dated recount of the US's state of readiness for a bio 'incident'.

The book started out rather well, with well documented incident and analysis. Then it lapsed into a very dry chronology documenting of the bureaucratic efforts to prepare the US military, civil government and population for either an epidemic, bio-warfare, and more recently bio-terrorism.

Science and an explanation of: biology of infectious disease, epidemiology, and trends in biological techniques are covered at on
Beth Cato
Germs. Viruses. Nasty little things made even nastier by scientific manipulation. This book, published in early 2001, explores the United State's efforts in germ and biological warfare from the 1950s onward. Special attention is paid to the little-known food bar poisoning attack by the Rajneeshees in Oregon in the early 1980s, Soviet advances and the subsequent degrading of their program after communism's collapse, Iraq and the first Gulf War, and battles in Washington D.C. over funding and ethi ...more
Okay. This book started strong. It might be that I was interested because I'm from Oregon and the Rajneesh attack was part of my childhood. The chapters that talked about the Gulf Wars were interesting. Again, that might be because I have friends and family who have served. The rest of the book was the same people being quoted over and over saying similar things, and the authors dramatizing it. There were also lots of contradictions, with the same people being quoted providing opposing informati ...more
Dec 02, 2011 Kari rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a nonfiction, factual read that provides a lot of insight into the use and possibilities of biological weaponry. Miller explores historical events that are often overlooked, and uncovers some shocking truths. It's an eye-opener to something that society would rather ignore.
I respect Miller, as she has done her homework. She is an actual reporter, and a writer for the New York Times. She has done a great deal of actual field work, and she is very well educated with this topic. However, fo
Jared Coady
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 24, 2016 Cbpax rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book slowly - in increments - taking my time to digest the facts. They are horrifying. It is bad enough to think that mankind possesses the ability of nuclear warfare but the weapons described in this tome are enough to make you weep. And to beg the government to re-start the Smallpox vaccination program before it is too late because the terrorists (or a rogue government) decides the best way to win their war is to use the cultures of smallpox that they obtained from the former Sovie ...more
Germs is a interesting look into a fascinating and terrifying subject, biological warfare. In reviewing the US and Soviet biological weapons programs, Miller talks about the problems of creating a biological weapon as well as going over a few times in which they were actually deployed (usually unsuccessfully). If you've come looking for a Hot Zone style thriller, though, you're in the wrong place (though the book is referenced in Germs). This book sticks to the US and Soviet military efforts and ...more
Just got through with this book. It started out interesting with the tale of the Salmonella poisoning in Washington State and then went into the history of germ engineering, gov responses to germ warfare threats and the world's preparedness in case an attack ever happened. Some valid points and a good scientist mantra for them to live by "do no harm"
Steven Kaminsky
Nov 06, 2011 Steven Kaminsky is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Re-started this book last night, (11-05-2011) scary as hell, because it's non-fiction. This book is well written so it is definitely NOT a dry read, nor is it clinical, as the title might suggest. Only on chapter 2, but it's the kind of book that will keep you awake at night.
Apr 26, 2014 Pam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book, It goes into great detail regarding the cold war struggle to find and catalog the germ and chemical warfare facilities that were in Russia.
It also shows the fragile nature of such sites when the country split and the facilities were no longer under Russian control they deteriorated and became vulnerable to theft and exposure to other countries. It also explores the business side of the weapons that once provided entire cities with employment and now those cities are ghost towns.T
Jul 24, 2015 Meg rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Intended to be sensationalist journalism - has some of the driest, most miserable prose I've ever encountered. Didn't finish, and certainly wouldn't recommend it.
Dec 28, 2014 Tifnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-events
...a little "light" reading.

Oh thank God I'm done with this book. Not only was it not a good time to read it (not to sure there is a good time) but it was depressing as all hell! Especially with all the hub hub about disaster preparedness.

A little insight to my peculiar ways in picking out books. I hit my local second hand stores and I scan books. If part of the title is interesting I will buy the book. I don't read what it's about and sometimes, like this particular book, I don't read the compl
Shannon Terry
GERMS by Judith Miller is a non-fiction book about biological warfare in the US during the 20th century. The interest in germ warfare began during the Cold War in which President Kennedy approved the increase in funds for biological weapons, hoping to keep up with the scientific advancements of The Soviet Union. Cultivation of incapacitating bacteria and viruses such as anthrax and even doses of smallpox began at the military base, Fort Detrick, in Maryland. Innovation of this warfare carried o ...more
Kim Ciniello
Feb 05, 2013 Kim Ciniello rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*Why does good reads list William first and not Judith? hmmmm

Yes, this is dated. Still scary. Still true. It is just more difficult to dig out the testing our government is doing on us these days. I know people who were experimented on during the Depression Era (20's and 30's...not this last one ;). It is also really easy to find people from the 80's who were subjected to medical experiments in exchange for a pittance of money...about the same time Regan released everyone from the mental institu
Dec 06, 2011 Emma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of you may enjoy thrillers and all kinds of vampire/zombie dystopian novels. I have to say the scariest book I read this year is NOT a novel, but this work of non-fiction. It was recommended to me by a friend who reads extensively all kinds of non-fiction works. I really knew close to nothing about the biological war programs of the US, quite active in the 50s and 60s, and apparently not as closed today as the official version seems to say. It was so scary to read about experiments done abo ...more
May 06, 2016 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really answered unasked questions about the intense training I got in the early '80's when I was in the service and explained so much about the Gulf War that the mainstream media glossed over. Worth the read!!! However steer clear if you scare easily,not for the faint of heart.
May 27, 2014 Janet rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, biological
I pre-ordered this in 2001 when it was the 'must read book' for the thinking man. learning about germ warfare was an eye opener at that time, forewarned is forearmed. worth a read if you have never read it.
Mar 04, 2011 Jeff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A curious read, especially several years on. Several interesting "biowar" attacks generally not well known, and an excellent overview of the recent history with several valuable sources. It reads especially curious as the NYT authors drop reams of evidence on the Iraqi germ warfare program to the point of casting the few naysayers as naive.

Overall interesting, and fairly tightly woven for such a broad topic (it helps that we currently have so few experts in the field that they pop up in every
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Out dated, at best, it's still pretty interesting as a history text regarding biological and chemical warfare.

I have previously read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, one of the authors associated with this book, Judith Miller, has what I will politely call a spotty relationship with the truth. Knowing that really clouded my enjoyment of the book the second time around.

That being said, the book is still a good spring board for your own research into the history of the biological war
Steele Dimmock
Apr 03, 2014 Steele Dimmock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Concise and interesting. Fascinating how real the biowarfare threat was during the gulf war.
I learned a lot about the power of germs used as weapons.
Mikko Muilu
Nov 30, 2014 Mikko Muilu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really good book about the history of germs in warfare, people behind them and the policies with them.
Jul 14, 2014 Peter rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Don't remember much about it.

This note was added years after reading the book.

Newmarket library.
Maybe a bit too short but it does make for a good brief introduction to/ history of germ warfare. Overall, a good read.
Jun 06, 2016 Jeanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a book to read before bedtime…
Oct 14, 2009 Jessie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Certainly an interesting look at the topic of biowarfare. Although, honestly, given what she describes in this book, and the breakthroughs in biotechnology since this book was written, I think its scientific premises (what can and cannot be made) are vastly outdated. But thinking about how other countries have, and probably still are, developing bioweapons, as well as how to protect against them, is intriguing. And scary, since it seems as though it's a gizillion times easier to make them than i ...more
Casey Smith
Oct 01, 2012 Casey Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't believe that this book is over 10 years old now! One of the very scariest reads of my life, the information contained in this novel was highly illuminating and eye-opening, as well as, horriffic. Not an easy read and pretty gruesome, it still paints a picture of a world which is very scary with our advanced medical abilities and our desire to learn from science even when it creates horrible viruses and bacterias that kill indiscriminately.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 50 51 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Germ Laboratory
  • Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World--Told from the Inside by the Man Who Ran It
  • Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox
  • Killer Germs: Microbes and Diseases That Threaten Humanity
  • The Age of Sacred Terror: Radical Islam's War Against America
  • Virus X
  • 60 Greatest Conspiracies Of All Time - History's Biggest Mysteries, Cover-ups, And Cabals
  • A Terrible Mistake: The Murder of Frank Olson and the CIA's Secret Cold War Experiments
  • Above Top Secret: Uncover the Mysteries of the Digital Age
  • The Curve of Binding Energy: A Journey into the Awesome and Alarming World of Theodore B. Taylor
  • Vaccine A: The Covert Government Experiment That's Killing Our Soldiers--and Why GI's Are Only the First Victims
  • The Cult at the End of the World: The Terrifying Story of the Aum Doomsday Cult, from the Subways of Tokyo to the Nuclear Arsenals of Russia
  • Me & Lee: How I Came to Know, Love and Lose Lee Harvey Oswald
  • Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola: Nature, Accident, or Intentional?
  • The Secret Team: The CIA & its Allies in Control of the United States & the World
  • Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon & the Destruction of Cambodia
  • Beautiful Minds: The Parallel Lives of Great Apes and Dolphins
  • Level 4: Virus Hunters of the CDC
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.
More about Judith Miller...

Share This Book