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Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-45 and the American Cover-Up 2nd Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415932141
ISBN-10: 0415932149
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Factories of Death is about Japan's secret biological and chemical experiments on live human beings and United States complicity in covering up the truth. Sheldon Harris has done us all a service by painstakingly uncovering the facts behind one of mankind's biggest yet least known crimes."
-James Bradley, author, "Flags of Our Fathers
"This book brings sound scholarship and strong moral conviction, tempered by carefully nuanced argument, to bear on a subject of continuing international concern. It deserves a readership far beyond the circle of Second World War specialists."
-"The International History Review
"The book's two parts, "Japanese Factories of Death" and American Cover-Up," are meticulously researched with the results presented in an outraged tone."
-"Military Review, September-October 2004

About the Author

Sheldon H. Harris is Professor Emeritus of History at California State University, Northridge. He began his research on Japanese biological experiments in Manchuria in 1984.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (March 22, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415932149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415932141
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #766,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on March 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
Sheldon Harris, Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare 1932-45 and the American Cover-Up (Second Edition) (Routledge, 2002)
During the time of the Great Depression in America, and up through the end of World War II, the Japanese medical corps, operating through the imperialist Kwantung Army, conducted thousands of biological warfare experiments on live human subjects. These subjects were primarily Chinese peasants convicted of petty crimes, but also included, as WW2 wore on, prisoners of war and non-criminal Chinese. For over forty years, these facts were kept an almost complete secret from the general public; glancing references would surface now and again, or a slick TV documentary would pop up for a British of Korean version of the TV magazines that are those countries� parallels to something like 20-20 in America. No one treated the subject in depth; no one knew how to get enough proof. Even the Chinese government, when it attempted a full-length film documentary, was unable to come up with enough information (their aborted attempt was made into a fictional film, the notorious Men Behind the Sun).
Then came Williams and Wallace and their book Unit 731. Seven years later, Sheldon Harris expanded greatly on Williams and Wallace�s knowledge with the definitive text on Unit 731�s war crimes, Factories of Death. Another seven years has gone by since, and Harris and Routledge have released a second edition of Factories of Death that contains the updated information from documents that have been declassified since. As time goes on, the book gets even more horrifying.
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Format: Paperback
This is "the other" good book on Unit 731 and the bacteriological warfare research and development secret Japanese program (focused mainly in occupied Manchuria and Northern China, mainly in the 30's) that included (or rather consisted of) large-scale laboratory experimentation on humans doomed to die (sometimes after being vivisected, with a little anesthesia as an option that could be easily dispensed with).

How many men, women and children died directly in lab experimentation? Difficult to answer: probably between five and fifteen thousand. How many during field testing on unaware civilian communities? The best guess is to double the previous range. How many died in real combat? We can safely double once more the range, noting by the way that some hundreds if not thousands of them were Japanese soldiers.

Who ordered and lavishly funded this program? The highest military brass, militarist extreme right-wing Japanese politicians and bureaucrats, perhaps the Imperial House, even the Showa Emperor Hirohito himself.
Who did the dirty job? The almost totality of the brightest physicians and biological experts of the country's elite Universities (but they didn't think that the job was dirty at all, just a very well-paid one).
Who was in command of the operation? A named Ishii, Shiro, a noted bacteriologist and a junior Lt. Col. when it all began, who ended his military career (but not his extravagant way of life) with militaty distinctions awarded by the Emperor himself, as the only Lt. General ever to come out from the Medical Corps.

How many of these men were brought on trial on war-crime charges? NIL, zero. Why? It's one of the most interesting questions on this bloody, mind-boggling business, and the book answers it well and directly enough.
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Format: Paperback
"F[a]ctories of Death" is a most important contribution to our knowledge about the use of biological warfare by the Imperial Japanese Army during the period, 1932-45.The active participation of Japanese physicans in the implementation and execution of the use of pathogens for mass destruction is useful for understanding what we Americans may be facing in the near future. The lack of prosecution of ANY Japanese physicans of Unit 731 for war crimes is particularly disturbing.
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Format: Paperback
You may believe you know all there is to know about the Japanese biological warfare program in WWII, chances are you don't. Sheldon Harris' book lays out all the detail of a massive bio research and employment operation conducted by the Japanese in Manchuria, China during WWII. Good stimulus for thought, particularly about ethics in time of war. Following the war, the American Government, made the conscious decision not to pursue war crime charges against those most responsible for this program in favor of exploiting the intelligence potential of the Japanese research. At the time, tensions were very high with the Soviet Union. The Chemical Warfare Service leadership was directly involved in that decision; you can decide for yourself whether that was the right call. The book bogs down a bit at the end, delving deeply in the U.S. government's investigation of the Japanese efforts, some may find this interesting, others will want to skip lightly through these chapters.
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Harris' book is a necessary complement to the others which have been written over the years, i.e. it provides solid facts and data that were lacking in the other works. Although as a scientific piece of paper it is excellent, I have been disappointed in the treatment of such a horrible matter in such a scientifically detached way, much like the lukewarm attitude from journalists and reviewers when they talk about the deal made by the allied authorities with these criminals. In fact, they are worse than criminals since they treated their human victims much worse than people treat rats in their labs these days.

The pardon of these brutes and exchange for data on human experimentation was and is a dastardly act that should merit the strongest of condemnation. Saying it was a "Dark chapter in medical history.." simply does not cut it!! May the 10,000 victims of this horrible act eventually find the justice and peace they have waited so long for.
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