(Full Review) The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston


(Full Review) The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston

A review of the Demon in the freezer

The demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston

The demon in the freezer written by Richard Preston a non-doctor writer from New York is written to inform of the prevailing threat of biological weapons to the human race. The book was published by Fawcett in 2003 and its main focus was on the aspect of bioterrorism (Preston, 2003).


The main focus of the book is to provide information on the impact of bioterrorism or to show the world the dangers of bioterrorism. To achieve this the author narrates the experiences that people attacked by smallpox and the anthrax virus go through (Charatan, 2002). The book is a riveting story on the threat of biological weapons and it is mainly directed to the government and even to the general public on how attack through bioterrorism can have a massive impact on the general public(Preston, 2003). It also serves as a warning sign or provides warning information that there could still be traces of the deadly viruses and to think that they have been wiped off the face of the world is a misconception that has been constructed to divert people’s attention to other issues of the world. The author who was the first and the only nondoctor to be recognized by the Center for Disease control is of the school of thought that bioterrorism is the most dangerous form of attack and terrorism that can wipe out the human race and that the existence of the viruses that cause diseases such as anthrax and small pox continues to be a danger to the humankind.


The demon in the freezer is primarily a nonfiction book on how biological weapon agents of smallpox and anthrax can be used to wipe out humans or life or how they have been maliciously used to end the human race (Armstrong, 2004). The book does not only illustrate the deadly danger of the biological weapon but it also illustrates how the weapons have been used by some government as a threat to the world. However, the book also seeks to identify that the nonexistence of biological weapons cannot entirely be ruled out. The author has strongly believed that smallpox despite the attempts of the American government to eradicate the virus, the enemies of the American government continues to store the dangerous virus (Preston, 2003). The author brings out the controversy as to whether the smallpox virus in countries such as Russia should be destroyed. This thus forms the basis of the title of the book as the author uses the demon in the freezer to refer to viruses that are believed to be stored in Moscow (Armstrong, 2004).

The book is also a documentation of the impact of another virus, the anthrax virus. The author also brings in the aspect of the attack of anthrax which may seem disconnected from the main topic as the main theme of the book was smallpox. However, Charatan (2002) states that bringing in anthrax by the authors was intentional as it was meant to show the readers that it is not only one dangerous virus that is in existence. As such the aim here was to ensure that the audience of the book, and especially the government of the USA realized the danger in which the citizens of the world are in by having this virus in existence.

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The focus of the book is however deeply rooted in the massive damage that the smallpox virus can have on the human race if left not destroyed. It can be said that the main message the writer was putting across is that there are some countries that have the potential danger to humans by holding on to the smallpox virus (Charatan, 2002). This can be seen through the way in which Preston describes the deaths that were caused by the smallpox virus in which he had witnessed. one of the attacks documented in the book is an epidemic attack that happened in the small town of Maschede in Germany as witnessed by the author(Preston, 2003). Here the writer describes the painful details in which the attack of smallpox caused to the affected. The focus of this book is not only to illustrate how the smallpox virus could affect the population through sickness and death, but also the writer emphasizes on the need to contain the smallpox virus. The virus is believed to be still in store in Moscow, Iran North Korea and Pakistan to reduce the chances of deaths and pains. In order to bring out the theme of the book, the author narrates the events in a captivating manner which makes it possible for the reader to follow through the story and able to capture the message that the writer intends to put across.


The author’s method of delivery of his story or his information is intriguing and interesting so as to make many readers attracted to the book. The writer is able to make attract the attention of the reader by the vivid introduction of the theme of the study (Charatan, 2002). The dramatic historical events of this book have been combined with good imagery and charismatic narrative skills that makes it easy for the reader to follow through and understand the context of the book. However, there seems to be a disjoint or a weird introduction of the concept of anthrax which then makes it hard for the reader to follow them main theme of the book (Armstrong, 2004). However, as the book later recaptures the main theme which is the aspect of the smallpox virus the reader is then able to identify that that the introduction of the anthrax was an indication of the danger of the bioterrorism which can come in many forms apart from the small pox. The adoption of the anthrax is mainly to demonstrate how devastating an attack of biological weapons can cause havoc on the human race if released.

The delivery of the theme of the book is done clearly and many readers can quickly note the theme of the book. By use of well researched historical information the author is able to inform the reader through candid narration which unfolds the dramatic events of the story linked to the small pox virus (Armstrong, 2004). There is evidence of systematic research such as in the topic “To Bhola Island” where the writer demonstrates profound knowledge in the evolution and history of small pox(Charatan, 2002).

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Majority of readers have been impressed by the way the writer of this book presents his work. Charatan, (2002) notes that the book is gripping because he well knew how to humanise his science reportage and this is done by a major focus on the players of characters of the book who could be patients, scientists, government figures among others. Armstrong, (2004) notes that the humanizing the science reportage and the ability of the writer to tease out without overstatement of the drama in his themes of the book is his main selling point that makes the book interesting and exciting.


The book is able to achieve its objective which is to communicate to government and anybody or anybody who works to defend fellow humans against the biological attacks. The book does well in explaining the danger that is brought about by the biological weapons and also revealing the fact that the world is still danger under the attack of the biological weapons. The author does well in bringing out facts and historical information relating to the biological information. This book is a valuable piece with important information in relation to dealing with biological weapons that can be used to wipe out the generation of human. The books has attained its objective especially when addressing the people and institutions that protect the human race form attacks of any kind of biological attacks.


Armstrong, R. E. (2004). Book Review: The Demon in the Freezer. Armed Forces & Society31(1), 161-165.

Charatan, F. (2002). Book: The Demon in the Freezer. BMJ: British Medical Journal325(7376), 1367.

Preston, R. (2003). The demon in the freezer. Fawcett Books.

Sutherland, J. R. (2004). THE DEMON IN THE FREEZER: A True Story. Military Review84(2), 73.

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