A riveting thriller reminiscent of The Hot Zone, this true story dives into the mystery surrounding one of the most controversial and misdiagnosed conditions of our time—Lyme disease—and of Willy Burgdorfer, the man who discovered the microbe behind it, revealing his secret role in developing bug-borne biological weapons, and raising terrifying questions about the genesis of the epidemic of tick-borne diseases affecting millions of Americans today.
While on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Kris Newby was bitten by an unseen tick. That one bite changed her life forever, pulling her into the abyss of a devastating illness that took ten doctors to diagnose and years to recover: Newby had become one of the 300,000 Americans who are afflicted with Lyme disease each year.
As a science writer, she was driven to understand why this disease is so misunderstood, and its patients so mistreated. This quest led her to Willy Burgdorfer, the Lyme microbe’s discoverer, who revealed that he had developed bug-borne bioweapons during the Cold War, and believed that the Lyme epidemic was started by a military experiment gone wrong.
In a superb, meticulous work of narrative journalism, Bitten takes readers on a journey to investigate these claims, from biological weapons facilities to interviews with biosecurity experts and microbiologists doing cutting-edge research, all the while uncovering darker truths about Willy. It also leads her to uncomfortable questions about why Lyme can be so difficult to both diagnose and treat, and why the government is so reluctant to classify chronic Lyme as a disease.
A gripping, infectious page-turner, Bitten will shed a terrifying new light on an epidemic that is exacting an incalculable toll on us, upending much of what we believe we know about it.
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About the Author
Kris Newby is an award-winning science writer at Stanford University and the senior producer of the Lyme disease documentary, Under Our Skin, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was a 2010 Oscar semifinalist. Previously, Newby was a technology writer for Apple and other Silicon Valley companies. She lives in Palo Alto.
Table of Contents
Author's Note xiii
Chapter 1 Bitten 5
Chapter 2 The Scientist 11
The Cold War
Chapter 3 Coin Toss 21
Chapter 4 Bitterroot Bride 31
Chapter 5 Big Itch 45
Chapter 6 Fever 59
Chapter 7 Special Operations 65
Chapter 8 Behind the Curtain 75
Chapter 9 Out of the Abyss 83
Chapter 10 Confession 97
Chapter 11 Missing Files 105
Chapter 12 Last Interview 113
Chapter 13 Rebellion 119
Chapter 14 Smoking Gun 127
Chapter 15 Eight Ball 135
Chapter 16 Speed Chess 143
Chapter 17 Fear 149
Chapter 18 Fog of War 157
Chapter 19 Lone Star 165
Chapter 20 Survival 171
Chapter 21 Castleman's Case 175
Chapter 22 Red Velvet Mites 181
Chapter 23 Wildfire 185
Chapter 24 Swiss Agent 195
Chapter 25 Collateral Damage 203
Chapter 26 Discovery 215
Chapter 27 DNA Detectives 227
Chapter 28 Change Agent 235
Chapter 29 Sins of Our Fathers 239
Chapter 30 Surrender 243
Appendix I Ticks and Human Disease Agents 257
Appendix II Uncontrolled Tick Releases, 1966-1989 259
Selected Bibliography 293
Image Credits 299
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Definitely an eye opener as to why so many are sick and not getting better. It's been easier to hide the truth than to admit what was done.
Well written and thought provoking. Intersting scientific and biological warfare history on Willy Burgdorefi and his government sponsored tick experiments