Because of the crucial role public health agencies will play in the event of a bioattack, they have become important national security assets. To some observers, this represents a shift in public health away from traditional functions, prompting the advocacy of a balanced approach to public health in which national security concerns do not jeopardize the broader goals of public health.
Terrorism and Public Health is written in that vein. Edited by 2 former presidents of the American Public Health Association, the second edition of Terrorism and Public Health comprises 20 chapters written by subject matter experts. The book is divided into 6 sections that include chapters addressing public health responses to terrorist acts, specific weapons used by terrorists, and emergency planning. Overall, the book provides a wide overview of the issues confronting public health agencies with respect to their national security role. However, the book has a specific ideological slant that permeates nearly every page. For example, the opening chapter includes a familiar table that compares the number of deaths attributable to bioterrorism in the modern era with those attributable to other causes—a shorthand way of dismissing the importance of bioterrorism.