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Deadly Cultures

Deadly Cultures

Biological Weapons since 1945

Edited by Mark Wheelis, Lajos Rózsa, and Malcolm Dando

ISBN 9780674016996

Publication date: 01/30/2006

The threat of biological weapons has never attracted as much public attention as in the past five years. Current concerns largely relate to the threat of weapons acquisition and use by rogue states or by terrorists. But the threat has deeper roots—it has been evident for fifty years that biological agents could be used to cause mass casualties and large-scale economic damage. Yet there has been little historical analysis of such weapons over the past half-century.

Deadly Cultures sets out to fill this gap by analyzing the historical developments since 1945 and addressing three central issues: Why have states continued or begun programs for acquiring biological weapons? Why have states terminated biological weapons programs? How have states demonstrated that they have truly terminated their biological weapons programs?

We now live in a world in which the basic knowledge needed to develop biological weapons is more widely available than ever before. Deadly Cultures provides the lessons from history that we urgently need in order to strengthen the long-standing prohibition of biological weapons.


  • Deadly Cultures is written eloquently and has been edited superbly. The chapters have a uniform style and organization; scientific and political terminology is used in a consistent and correct manner throughout; and abbreviations are used only where absolutely necessary. In contrast to most other books on bioweapons, the editors have almost always used up-to-date taxonomy of biological agents, as well as the differentiation of agents and the diseases they cause. The authors also included the original names of all institutes involved in bioweapons R&D. This is not a trivial point as French, Iraqi or Russian institute designations have been translated differently in the past, and were also frequently changed during decades of reorganization, confusing both analysts and interested laymen… Deadly Cultures is informative, meticulously researched, important in its message, and a fabulous read for both scholars and interested scientists.

    —Jens H. Kuhn, Nature


  • Mark Wheelis is Senior Lecturer in the Section of Microbiology at the University of California, Davis.
  • Lajos Rózsa is senior researcher, Animal Ecology Group of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary.
  • Malcolm Dando is Professor of Peace Studies, University of Bradford, England.

Book Details

  • 496 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press