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Inside the Hot Zone

A Soldier on the Front Lines of Biological Warfare

Mark G. Kortepeter

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: Potomac Books
Published: 01/2020
Pages: 336
Subject: Biography and Autobiography
eBook ISBN: 9781640122765


Inside the Hot Zone is an insider's account of one of the most dangerous workplaces on earth: the United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Retired U.S. Army Col. Mark G. Kortepeter, a leading biodefense expert, recounts his journey from the lecture hall to the role of department chief, to the battlefield, to the Biosafety Level-4 maximum containment lab, and finally, to the corner office. During Kortepeter's seven and a half years in leadership at USAMRIID, the United States experienced some of the most serious threats in modern germ warfare, including the specter of biological weapons during the Iraq War, the anthrax letters sent after 9/11, and a little-known crisis involving a presumed botulism attack on the president of the United States. Inside the Hot Zone is a shocking, frightening eye-opener as Kortepeter describes in gripping detail how he and his USAMRIID colleagues navigated threats related to anthrax, botulism, smallpox, Lassa, and Ebola. Kortepeter crafts a rich and riveting narrative as he wrestles with life-and-death decisions managing biological weapon exposures. The stories are real, but they could just as easily serve as plotlines in popular fiction or Hollywood thrillers. He gives the reader a seat at the table as each crisis unfolds, with an unvarnished and personal perspective on the dangers, the drama, the fear, the frustrations, the irony, and the uncertainty he encountered as a physician in the role of "Biodefender."  


Mark G. Kortepeter is a professor in the Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health, at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and a retired army colonel with more than twenty-five years of service. He is an expert in germ warfare defense and has held multiple leadership roles at the nation's largest containment laboratory dedicated to biological warfare defense, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). 


"Writing in a style reminiscent of The Coming Plague, Kortepeter sheds new light on the horrors of bioweapons, on the inner workings of the federal bureaucracy, and on the insiders' views of the anthrax attacks. His expertise and experiences make Inside the Hot Zone compelling reading for anyone interested in scientific, medical, or military thrillers. And, scariest of all, the thrills are real."—Ted Cieslak, MD, Col. (Ret.) U.S. Army, medical co-director of the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit and medical director of the Nebraska Quarantine Unit at the University of Nebraska Medical Center  

"Absolutely riveting. Dr. Kortepeter tells a fascinating story. . . . If you want to know what it is to be part of this exceptional team of heroic Americans working in the 'hot zone,' you should read this book."—Lester Martinez-Lopez, MD, MPH, Maj. Gen. (Ret.) U.S. Army, and former commander of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Fort Detrick, Maryland  

"Col. Kortepeter's inside story from the front lines of our nation's defense against the real and increasing threat of biological weapons is fascinating. He gives voice in lucid prose to the unsung heroes working tirelessly at the world's best biodefense research center at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Their mission is to keep America safe, and our nation owes them an enormous debt of gratitude."—Andy Weber, former assistant secretary of defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs