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Aftermath: The Remnants of War: From Landmines to Chemical Warfare--The Devastating Effects of Modern Combat Paperback – May 12, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Vintage Books ed edition (May 12, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067975153X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679751533
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #88,752 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Donovan Webster, a former editor at Outside magazine, has written an eyewitness account of the impossible tasks involved with removing armaments that continue to kill after war has ceased. Between 110 and 120 million land mines are planted in the soil of more than 64 countries. The exponential numbers point to the staggering difficulties Aftermath details: each year more than 5 million new land mines are laid, and only 100,000 are cleared; a new mine costs $3, but removing one costs between $200 and $1,000. In Angola, there are more than 15 million mines, two for every citizen. Webster traces the deadly legacy from the French battlefields of World War I to Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, describing the work of sappers in a compelling story that brings to light the horrifying legacy of warfare. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

War scars land as well as people. That is the truth that Webster, a former senior editor of Outside magazine, explores in his evocative first book, expanded from an article he wrote for the Smithsonian magazine. Webster proceeds by examining the physical legacies of 20th-century conflict. In France, the legacy consists of unexploded shells and bombs?12 million of them at Verdun alone. At Stalingrad, there are the bones of 300,000 German dead. In Nevada, Webster surveys the results of a decade of open-air nuclear testing, and of disposal sites poisoned for the next 12,000 years by stored nuclear waste. Vietnam, devastated by high explosive and chemical defoliants, continues to pay war's price in mutilated adults and malformed children. The author finds that the deserts of Kuwait are sown with seven million land mines left behind by the armies of Desert Storm and that, in Utah, the U.S. seeks to destroy chemical agents no less toxic for being obsolete. Webster tours these sites himself, personalizing his narrative. He describes their origins and introduces the people who seek to mitigate their effects. More than many academic analyses, this finely written work provides a compelling story of what humanity is willing to do to its world?and itself?in the name of national interest.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

An easy read.
Mark C
It may be that the frogs wouldn't allow any pics, but more would be better.
Rod Danglewood
You will read it several times and loan it to friends.
Rod Petree

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dennis J. Buckley on November 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
The substance of this book has been covered by other reviewers. This intriguing generalist's work documents the author's on-site investigation of the lethal persistence of modern weapons dating from the First World War. Beyond this, Webster has communicated to American readers what happens after a modern war is fought on your soil. Webster's writing style is pleasing and readily accessible by any reader, and in one chapter he builds on his very well-written and moving piece on Verdun which ran in _Smithsonian_ some time ago.
The reason that this reviewer has not accorded a "five star rating" is simple: this work leaves the expert hungry for more. Webster is an intelligent and articulate man who could easily expand on this work. Overlooking a number of essentially editorial errors (such as Tiger and Panther tanks rolling across France in 1940), one wishes that Webster had further developed his theme of the violation of the social compact through the use of persistent agents and explosives. The work as written should be read by any historian who is serious about the study of modern war.
Beyond any one overarching theme, Webster has uncovered the answers-- or at least more evidence-- to a number of "mysteries" of military history.
Webster's compelling chapter on the fate of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad may answer the question of what happened to many of the 250,000 Axis soldiers who "disappeared" on the Russian steppe in 1942-1943: those who did not perish in Soviet camps were literally left to rot where they fell. This unpalatable but now evident conclusion is borne out by the author's visits to the "bone fields" around the sites of the German military airfields and evacuation sites at Pitomnik and Gumrak.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 14, 1999
Format: Paperback
Aftermath, which Webster researched personally and in incredibe detail, is thought provoking to the point of being shocking. The history and scale of this century's warfare that he reveals has given me, a former US Navy officer, a new-found respect for foot soilders and their terrible burdens. As a father of young children, Aftermath left me with a sadness for those people of France, Kuwait, Viet Nam, and a thousand other battle sites, who have grown up with the explosive and toxic remnants of modern man's conflicts. Be warned. Don Webster's prowess as a writer (National Geographic, NY Times, etc.) is obvious. You won't want to put the book down once you start.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Howard W. Greer on November 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
Mr. Webster has documented a sobering and horrific walk through time. He has described the international problem of Unexploded Ordinance (UXO) from past wars, which continues destroy lives even 80 years later. We have all been exposed to the images and the glorious stories of armed conflict over the decades, which society teaches new generations to honor. Much of the sheer inhumanity, the utterly cold necessity of combat is ignored. Mr. Webster traveled the world to seek out the continuing reality of sudden death, perpretrated by soldiers long gone or dead.
This reader, even while working in the field of disposing of such items safely, was stunned to learn how widely the problem spans the globe. The brutal maiming and death of hundreds of people, the inestimable expense of cleaning up the trash of war will do doubt continue for decades, if not centuries. I admire Mr. Webster for his unenviable task of collecting these horific stories to share with people who know nothing about the massive problem.
This collection of observations is a must-read work for anyone who wants to know more about the struggles of millions of common people around the world. I would have liked to have more detail in many sections, hence the four stars. Still, a very moving portrayal of a deadly serious issue.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 27, 1997
Format: Hardcover
If you've followed Webster's career at all (Outside, The New
Yorker, National Geographic), you already know his ability
to unearth all the right local characters, draw them out and
distill their musings into a coherent sense of place. In
this, he applies the same brand of cozy reportage to a timely
(needless to say, overlooked) issue of global (though not
necessarily domestic) significance. This is also good, fun
stuff to read. And despite Browne's concern about the author's
facts in his NYT review (from a reviewer who badly misspells
the author's name in the very same review, no less!), the
book is deeply researched and lucidly told. If you at all
study the tragedy of war and the follies of humankind (and
who can avoid that, anymore), this is a good stand-alone primer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Flora VINE VOICE on May 16, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Donovan Webster's writing style is rich in observational detail. He paints vivid and evocative word pictures as he leads the reader through the battlefields of France, Russia and Vietnam examining the dangerous and tragic remnants of war. Things slow down when he turns his attention to the legacies of America's nuclear and chemical weapons programs.
I blew through this book in a couple of sittings - partially because it's an easy read and also because it's fascinating stuff for a military buff. Fortunately, he keeps the "man's inhumanity to man" hand-wringing to a minimum and gives us mostly straight reportage.
I read this on the recommendation of history podcaster Dan Carlin and, like Carlin's other recommendations, it didn't disappoint.
I guarantee you'll find interesting stuff you didn't know if you read this book.
The information is more than a decade old, but it's still worth the price of admission.
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