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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
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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

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,389 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
Anthrax. Smallpox. Incurable and horrifying Ebola-related fevers. For two decades, while a fearful world prepared for nuclear winter, an elite team of Russian bioweaponeers began to till a new killing field: a bleak tract sown with powerful seeds of mass destruction—by doctors who had committed themselves to creating a biological Armageddon. Biohazard is the never-before-t ...more
Paperback, 319 pages
Published April 11th 2000 by Delta (first published January 1st 1999)
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Jun 22, 2014 Cherei rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Required reading for any person living on this planet that breathes.

This is one of those extremely rare books that I will be recommending as a MUST READ book to every person who ever asks me... "What book would you recommend be on EVERY person's reading list?" If I could give it a gazillion stars, I would! Yes, it's that well written. This book will scare the livin' daylights out of you. For anyone living under the illusion that the world is a super safe place and that our governments are doing
Jan 28, 2010 Brian rated it liked it
I would estimate that I accept about 80% of what Kanatjan Alibekov describes in this book as truthful and factual. The most frightening aspects about the horrible pathogens he helped develop in the Soviet Union's bioweapons program are in fact quite believable. What I don't quite accept are Alibekov's explanations for his involvement in the program.

He suggests that he initially had misgivings about developing biological weapons at the start of his career. He quickly forgot those concerns out of
Sep 10, 2015 Matt rated it really liked it
To be clear from the start, the book was written in late 1998. The Nook version of it claimed to be published in March, 2014, but the author obviously finished this book in 1998, based on his "predictions" for 1999. That being said, the book dealt with the early career of Ken Alibek (the American name of the Soviet scientist Kanatjan Alibekov) while he was still a scientist employed in the bioweapons program of the Soviet Union, so even though the book was published in the late '90s, it still fu ...more
Mar 08, 2013 Brooke rated it it was amazing
Alibek uncovers the world of the USSR bioengineering and production of deadly weapons used in biowarfare. During the Cold War, during the reckoning of weapons of mass destruction, Former Soviet Union took an extreme interest in not only nuclear weaponry, but biological, and Alibek gives a detailed account about the horrifyingly real world he walked through. There is not a doubt in my mind that everything here happened. USSR backed out of treaties with the UN to implement their plans on biowarfar ...more
Oct 26, 2014 Heather rated it really liked it
The world can be a scary place and this book definitely supports that idea. We've heard a lot about chemical warfare and weapons of mass destruction; here is the book that tells you all about what Russia (Soviet Union) was experimenting with throughout the 80s and 90s. It's terrifying because it wasn't that long ago that they were amassing a ridiculous amount of biochemical weapons. With the eventual break down of the Soviet Union, scientists were without jobs and income and left (or were recrui ...more
Jim Hale
Jan 17, 2014 Jim Hale rated it it was amazing
Shelves: russian
A blistering indictment of how the Soviet regime spent billions of dollars, in violation of numerous treaties, to build the most sophisticated biological weapons program that has ever existed. When Alibek defected to the US, he proceeded to blow the lid off all the lies that the Russians had been perpetrating on the naive Western world for decades. He describes in detail how many thousands of Russians were killed by experiments gone bad and the embarrassing efforts to cover up the truth. This sh ...more
Jedi Kitty
Interesting, important, and very readable. The science is pretty light- not really enlightening. This isn't a good book for learning the nuts and bolts of the science of bioweapons, but more on how the industry worked, how it fit into soviet military politics, what the potential capabilities are, and how material is weaponized. You do wonder what Alibek's true motives are. This book is much more focused on the structure of the Soviet bio weapons secret industry than on Alibek himself. As a defec ...more
Rebecca McNutt
Apr 12, 2015 Rebecca McNutt rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 03, 2014 loupgarous rated it really liked it
In Biohazard, Dr. Kenneth Alibek, born Kanatjan Alibekov in what is now the country of Kazakhstan, then simply another satrapy of the sprawling Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, shares the incredible story of his work in what is perhaps the best-kept secret of the twentieth century - Biopreparat, the mammoth chain of state-of-the-art biological weapon development and production plants, mostly built AFTER Leonid Brezhnev solemnly stood beside the President of the United States and the Prime Mi ...more
Sep 29, 2012 Celina rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-weapons, virus
The title of this book pretty much spells out exactly what you will find inside--a grim, chilling account of Russia's covert bioweapons program--definitely not your average memoir! I walked away feeling 1. disconcerted that no one in the rest of world knew what the Russians were doing through Biopreparat. 2. frightened at the possibility that our current enemies have most likely benefited by Russia's covert programs 3. and disturbed by the chilling anecdotes of life within the walls of Russia's ...more
Dec 04, 2012 Rsoeffker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Biohazard was one of those books that you wished was fiction. Who better to tell the true account of the Soviet Bio-Weapons program than the man who ran it?

This awesome book not only explains the history of the Soviet Union, their disgraceful weapons program, but also a change of heart if the man behind it.

Sworn to "do no harm" Alibekov quickly betrays this oath as a patriot without morals. As the Soviet Empire collapses around him, he is forced to rethink the diabolical program that he was so
Aug 19, 2011 Adderly.AC5 rated it it was amazing
What Kanatjan Alibekov describes in this book as truthful and factual. The only thing i dislike is that he helped the Ussr with this project and some of what he say might not be the truth. Although Alibekov had a good part in a way to this project i didnt like the reason that he gives for being involved. I dont want to spoil it for those who havent read it ,but the disease these bio wepons were made to spread were some of the worst(small pox). The thing i really did like about the book though is ...more
Benjamin Stahl
Jan 18, 2015 Benjamin Stahl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was a real eye-opener, and for the fact that it's all one true account, it succeeds in being quite horrifying. I'm ashamed to say that I didn't know what anthrax and brucellosis and smallpox really were. Even more, I didn't know how freaking close our world once was to falling victim to these horrible diseases. This book, although totally and officially true, is written in the form of a fictional thriller, and is told with an unsettling lack of reassurances, by a man who defected from ...more
Apr 04, 2008 Joanna rated it it was amazing
This book is unbelievable in its in-depth treatment of the cold-war Soviet biowarfare program. The sheer scale of the mass-production of various agents (Plague, Smallpox, Anthrax, Marburg, and Ebola, among others) and the means developed for dispersing them in catastrophic amounts is enough to give one goosebumps (hence "The Chilling True Story," I suppose. (Not to mention that we're not quite sure just where all of those stocks and the scientists who worked with them are located now.) Besides t ...more
Sep 28, 2008 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: central-asia
A chilling account of how lucky we were not to have biological catastrophes in the US during the Cold War. The book, written by a Soviet scientist living in exile in the US, was decidedly anti-Soviet and pro-American. But it was still terrifying to see the extent of biological weapons programs and the potential for careless mistakes that would have been extremely costly or the destruction of entire populations from germ warfare.

Note that the author is actually Ken Alibek, not Stephen Handelman (
S.G. Rainbolt
Oct 03, 2011 S.G. Rainbolt rated it it was amazing
I decided to try this book years back to broaden my horizons. I was pleasantly surprised! I ended up loving this book! There was no fiction - all non-fiction! Probably, one of the few non-fictions I've thoroughly enjoyed. It is such an eye-opener with regards the cold war and the international competition between Russia and US - but that isn't the half of the story. You really feel you walk along with Alibek as he mixed the biochemicals set to be unleashed on America.
Mar 04, 2015 Clay rated it it was amazing
"Chilling" does not begin to outline this memoir. I picked this up looking to gain some knowledge about CBRN and gained a much better understanding of the weaponization of viruses and bacteria.
Jun 20, 2015 Alistair rated it really liked it
Biohazard is an easy read, yet highly detailed view of Ken Alibek's life and work in the USSR on its bioweapon programmes. It is a chronological account from his joining the Biopreparat until his defection to the USA. it is an interesting point that he pushes for the dismantling of the USSRs bioweapons programme because he believes that it will be discovered and he believes that the USA doesn't have one, and not because he has a moral issue with the types of weapons being developed.

Overall it is
Aug 04, 2014 Jacob rated it it was amazing
Really interesting book into the Soviet Unions biological programs. Much more captivating than I expected.
Jennifer Martin
Jul 15, 2014 Jennifer Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative book about Soviet bioweapons research and development. Some times its better not to know!
Debbie Allen
Jun 06, 2014 Debbie Allen rated it it was amazing
This one is a wowzer for me. Still reading. If you want to sleep at night, Not recommended.
Meg Warren
Aug 04, 2014 Meg Warren rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. But a bit scary.
Bill Bishop
Oct 02, 2014 Bill Bishop rated it it was amazing
A fascinating read.
Nov 07, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it
If this book reads like horrifying science fiction, it's because science fiction tries to get away with as much bad science as Alibek does. Of course, Alibek should (and almost certainly does) know better. He is, however making the most of the American dream of striking it rich, whether with his biodefense corporation that (at least at the time of publishing) stood to make a considerable amount by drumming up fear. I'm willing to believe aspects of Alibek's claims, but much of what he says is va ...more
Peter King
Dec 04, 2012 Peter King rated it liked it
Some people oppose genetic engineering because nuclear loving Gaia Hypothesis originator James Lovelock came up with a rather crazy 'sludge that took over the world' scenario. Well that was crap. Most agricultural GMOs are completely harmless or at worst no more problematic than the weeds we introduced during the bio-colonial period when the Europeans kicked everyone around. But if you want some genetic engineering that will *really* scare the crap out of you "Biohazard" will tell you all about ...more
Vasil Kolev
Oct 07, 2015 Vasil Kolev rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
A very interesting read, with a lot of details of the Soviet biological weapons program. There are some somewhat preachy parts on the threat of such weapons and what needs to be done, but the rest is very interesting.
Jan 15, 2014 John rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, science
This book described the biological weapons program of the former Soviet Union. The author was a Colonel in the Army of the Soviet Union and was the deputy director of the research and development of the program. The book provides a look into a weapons program that the western world did not know existed until another scientist defected to Great Britain. A few years later, this author defected to the USA.
Dec 05, 2007 Rebecca rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: the Germans at Stalingrad
I'll admit: I would have given this book 3 stars, a more-than-average rating, if after I read it in 2005 i had not proceeded to endure lecture after lecture by Alibek, giving me the distinct impression that he is masterful at inflating his contributions and mental acuity and distancing himself from any culpability for developing the Soviet offensive BW program. One also gets the impression that the whole truth is not (and may never) be told. The story is well laid-out, however, and is a good bac ...more
Scott Baker
Oct 29, 2015 Scott Baker rated it really liked it
Ken Alibek's Biohazard provides an excellent history of the Soviet Union's biological weapons program and is the perfect primer on biological warfare in general.
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Colonel Kanatjan Alibekov (known as Ken Alibek since 1992 — is a former Soviet physician, microbiologist and biological warfare (BW) expert. He rose rapidly in the ranks of the Red Army to become the First Deputy Director of Biopreparat where he oversaw a vast program of BW facilities. In 1992 he defected to the United States, has become an American citizen, and makes his living as a biodefense co ...more
More about Ken Alibek...

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“Since leaving Moscow I have encountered an alarming level of ignorance about biological weapons. Some of the best scientists I've encountered in the West say it isn't possible to alter viruses genetically to make reliable weapons, or to store enough of a give pathogen for strategic purposes, or to deliver it in a way that assures maximum killing power. My knowledge and experience tell me that they are wrong. I have written this book to explain why.
There are some who maintain that discussing the subject will cause needless alarm. But existing defenses against these weapons are dangerously inadequate, and when biological terror strikes, as I am convinced it will, public ignorance will only heighten the disaster. The first step we must take to protect ourselves is to understand what biological weapons are and how they work. The alternative is to remain as helpless as the monkeys in the Aral Sea.”
“When Davis finally went back and turned the flashlight on, he saw that the walls near the door were dented and pitted—the telltale marks left by fragments of explosives. “You have been using explosives here,” he declared. “No, no,” Petukhov insisted. “Those marks come from the hammers we had to use to make the door fit when we were constructing the building. It was poorly made by our factory, you see.” 0 likes
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