As he sits in his comfy chair, surrounded by his library, the scientist being interviewed is the very picture of urbane charm. So it's startling to consider that, a month after he gave this interview, Dr David Kelly would leave this cottage, walk across the fields to his favorite wood and kill himself.
The July 2003 suicide of Kelly, a former United Nations weapons inspector and biological weapons adviser to Tony Blair's Government, almost brought down the British prime minister. Filmmaker Susan Lambert wasn't at Kelly's cottage to talk to him about the Iraq war.. Instead, she was there talk to Kelly about his pivotal role in the early 1990s in uncovering the then Soviet Union's secret and illegal biological warfare program.
Plague, smallpox, flu, HIV/Aids, SARS - they are our deadly enemies. It's no wonder that throughout history microbes have been considered a terrifying weapon. In the Dark Ages, plague-ridden corpses were catapulted into besieged cities; the British colonists in America presented gifts of smallpox-infected blankets to unsuspecting Indian tribes; and in the early 90s, a religious cult poisoned Oregon salad bars with botulism. But it was not until 20th century scientists became involved that germs were developed into weapons of mass destruction.
DEADLY ENEMIES is the secret history of biological weapons from World War II through the end of the Cold War. It tells the story of how science, history and politics became partners in a dance of death - a story that resonates at a time when world peace is again threatened.
Like the Atomic Bomb, germ warfare grew out the military labs of World War II. The US and Soviets both recruited germ warfare scientist from Japan and Germany just as they had with atomic scientists. Japan had used these weapons to kill thousands of Chinese civilians and Germany had conducted experiments on concentration camp victims. Now this knowledge would be used in the escalating Cold War between the US and the Soviets and unleash a power which one leading US scientist warned "had put the people of the world on the course of possible global suicide."
At the center of this story are the scientists who manipulated microscopic life for the purpose of killing. From early attempts to weaponize bacteria, to the advent of gene splicing and the creation of superbugs, they were engaged in a deadly scientific race that has delivered us the means of our own destruction. But for those who worked on these projects during the Cold War years, the race for the perfect biological weapon was a love story. Some were driven by patriotism, some had deep reservations about the use of this knowledge, but all were drawn by the lure of scientific research on a grand scale
In the world outside the secret laboratories, however, germs were the enemy. Popular culture reflected public fears in feature films like The Satan Bug and The Andromeda Strain and in television ads for detergents with germ-killing enzymes. Against the backdrop of the remarkable archive of the time, DEADLY ENEMIES tells the story of scientists on both sides of the Cold War divide through the first hand accounts of those who were there.
" * * * 1/2 [three and a half stars]! Thorough... Revealing... Frightening... Riveting as both history and cautionary exposé, DEADLY ENEMIES is Highly Recommended!"—Video Librarian
2005 Association for Practical and Professional Ethics Conference
"The frightening story of the secret arms race that started during World War II and quickened pace during the anti-communist fever of the 1950s. Some of the footage from the 1950s is as surreal as it is terrifying. One cheerful military film shows the use of conscientious objectors and pacifists as guinea pigs in trials to test the effectiveness of certain diseases as weapons."—The Age
"Highly Recommended! With the term WMD (weapons of mass destruction) so prominent in recent news, this look at the biological weapons programs of the United States and the former Soviet Union gives some context to today's situation. Well worth watching!"—Educational Media Reviews Online
"A complex tale of ambiguity and lethal self-interest... Fascinating."—Sydney Morning Herald