Anthrax Vaccine Expose Is On Despite Reported Inoculation
A title from Basic about anthrax that’s likely to cause controversy is going ahead “full-steam” according to the publisher, after a source late last week said the book’s publication was in question.
“Vaccine A: The Covert Government Experiment That’s Killing American Soldiers,” by Gary Matsumoto, has been touted as one of the publisher’s lead titles, with an embargo, a one-day laydown and 100,000 copies ordered.
Though details in the book are being kept under tight wraps, it is thought to condemn the government’s distribution of the controversial anthrax vaccine to soldiers and describe a public health threat in which “GI’s are only the first victims” if the vaccine is distributed widely, according to catalog copy.
It is also expected that the book will condemn the vaccine’s manufacturer, the hot-button Michigan company BioPort. Matsumoto is a reporter who’s done work for ABC News, Fox News and Science on this and other biotech stories.
But perhaps fittingly, the book’s publishing story comes with its own share of mystery. Originally scheduling the book for last Tuesday, the house earlier this season pushed it back to October 19.
The book has also appeared and then disappeared from online venues, and at press time was not listed on Amazon nor on the Basic Books site. Last week a source inside the company provided a zinger: the book had been pulled, with no word of when, or whether, it would be reinstated. (The title was also changed from the previous In the Name of Defense, though as part of what was said to be an ordinary, if robust, marketing debate.)
But in an interview yesterday Basic Books publisher Elizabeth Maguire said Vaccine A was on track and had already been shipped to the printer. She said that there had been no delays, only some “small editing” changes, and that the changes were not brought on by sensitivity concerns. “[They] were not anything substantive because of legal reads,” she said, adding that Matsumoto and editor Bill Frucht had simply “worked out some final context.”
She suggested that the source’s report of a suspension of publication “might be a misinterpretation of what was happening.” Maguire attributed the Basic Web omission to a site redesign and said she hadn’t been aware of any Amazon problems.
Maguire also dismissed any speculation that delays had been brought about because of any entanglements involving Perseus LLC’s other holdings–Perseus LLC, which finances Basic parent Perseus Books, also serves as an investor to more than a dozen biotech firms–as nonsense. “It’s never been a concern,” she said. “We publish all kinds of controversial books. We publish a range of political ideologies. We never have had any interference from our investors.”
The book has excited booksellers because it promises, in an age of bioterror and unconventional weapons, to offer a scathing look at a vaccine that has been argued is both unproven and dangerous. It has also been suggested that the vaccine may have a role in Gulf War syndrome.
Maguire said the book will be shipped to media under embargo and that reporters are being asked to sign NDAs.