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The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea Hardcover – November 22, 1998


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The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea + Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-45 and the American Cover-Up + Unit 731 Testimony
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (November 22, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253334721
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253334725
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,158,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An airplane flies over enemy territory, dropping a shiny cylindrical object near a town. When the townspeople go to investigate, they find flies, spiders, and feathers scattered among bomb fragments in the snow. Biological testing reveals that all the items are contaminated with the anthrax bacillus. The Iran-Iraq war? International terrorism? Or the United States in northeastern China, 1952?

The term "biological warfare" brings to mind images of ruthless dictators, delusional terrorists, and cartoonish movie villains. The assertions made by Stephen Endicott and Edward Hagerman, that the United States engaged in germ warfare against China and North Korea in the 1950s, are therefore both shocking and disturbing. The United States and Biological Warfare is an important yet flawed history of the American program, from its origin in 1941 as the Bacteriological Warfare Committee (quickly and obfuscatingly renamed the WBC) to its abrupt closure in the 1960s. The main focus of the book, however, is the United States' activities in Korea and China during the Korean War--where, Endicott and Hagerman claim, the U.S. launched a number of biological attacks to spread anthrax, cholera, and smallpox viruses, as well as other disease-causing agents.

This book is bound to draw criticism from many sides; despite their thorough research, the authors have yet to find a proper "smoking gun." Some of the science is muddled, as well--though it is at times difficult to tell if the confusion began in the military documents or with the authors. The circumstantial evidence and overall argument, however, are quite compelling. What is even more disturbing than these activities (including the fact that scientists who were active in Japan's biological warfare program in World War II were granted immunity for their war crimes in return for sharing their knowledge) is the wartime mentality that causes countries to contemplate and even commit atrocities in the name of national security. A chilling read.

From Publishers Weekly

If nothing else, Canadian historian Endicott and American historian Hagerman will make thoughtful readers see the irony in the U.S. government's ongoing showdown with Iraq over biological weapons. This history of the U.S. biological weapons program alleges that the U.S. actually deployed biological weapons during the Korean War. The authors marshal an impressive array of evidence that the military and executive branch lied to Congress and the public about the development of biological weapons. At the end of WWII, the American military enlisted the aid of top Japanese biological warfare officers; when the Korean War broke out, the U.S. embarked on an ambitious program to produce offensive biological weapons, despite Pentagon protestations that the research was geared toward defensive weaponry. During the war, Chinese officials learned of mysterious outbreaks of disease after some U.S. raids and began to suspect that biological weapons were being used. The authors were the first foreigners allowed to inspect Chinese archival documents dealing with the possible American use of biological weapons. They rely heavily on these sources, as well as on Canadian, British and American documents. The research is bolstered by endnotes and an array of photographs (not seen by PW).
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I reviewed this book in the New York Times Book Review, June 27, 1999. The review shows that the authors present, as if it were genuine and unproblematical, evidence long ago shown to be fabricated. The last paragraph of the review states:Carl Sagan used to say that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. The evidence Endicott and Hagerman present for their extraordinarily dubious claim is notable only for its weakness. The Chinese and North Koreans themselves had the means, motive and opportunity to fabricate evidence, and were known to rewrite history for propaganda purposes. Any plausible defense of the claim that the Americans were guilty of biological warfare in the Korean conflict must address the question of fabricated evidence. Endicott and Hagerman do not even raise it. If theirs is the best case that can be made for American germ warfare activities in China and Korea, it amounts to a dismissal of the charges and an exoneration of the accused. ---Separately, additional proof that the North Korean and Chinese evidence was fabricated can be found in: Leitenberg, Milton. New Russian Evidence on the Korean Biological Warfare Allegations: Background and Analysis. Cold War International History Project Bulletin II. (Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center) Winter, 1998: 185-199. And:Weathersby, Kathryn. Deceiving the Deceivers: Moscow, Beijing, Pyongyang, and the Allegations of Bacteriological Weapons Use in Korea. Cold War International History Project Bulletin II. (Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center): Winter, 1998. 176-185.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on July 31, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This fascinating and deeply researched book examines whether the USA used biological weapons when it attacked Korea. It shows that the US Government, in collaboration with the British and Canadian Governments, spent $500,000,000 between 1951 and 1953 developing such weapons, based on those used by the Japanese Army in its attack on China.
In February 1952, the Joint Chiefs of Staff called for �a strong offensive biological warfare capability without delay� and for developing �all effective means of waging war without regard for precedents as to their use.� The biological weapons were incorporated into the Strategic Air Command�s strategic plans for general war. The US state has never ratified the 1925 Geneva Protocol banning biological weapons.
The US state fought its war against Korea with no regard for legal constraints. It threatened to use nuclear weapons. It used chemical weapons - 70,000 gallons of napalm a day in 1951, and phosphorus bombs - despite having ratified the Protocol against chemical weapons. The USAF bombed civilians mercilessly: as General Curtis LeMay boasted, �We burned down just about every city in North and South Korea both ... We killed over a million Koreans and drove several million more from their homes.�
The authors examine the evidence of germ-bearing insects, feathers and other carriers found after USAF bombing raids and look at the consequent outbreaks of unusual illnesses. Many captured US pilots confessed to dropping bombs containing these materials. They later retracted their confessions, claiming that their captors had �brainwashed� them. A US Army study found no evidence of this. The pilots retracted under threat of death: the US Attorney General said that American POWs who collaborated with the enemy might face charges of treason.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. L. Huff on December 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
It's inevitable that a book laying out these kinds of charges should provoke partisan polemics. In making their case, however, the authors do not make conspiracy claims but lay out their position in deductive reasoning from available evidence and statements. Such a case can be labelled circumstantial; but it's relevant to note that many people sit in prison on evidence as plausibly circumstantial as that charged here.

The underlying theme is, would the US be morally capable of engaging in this behavior? And the reasonable answer must be "yes." Given the total war mentality of the period, the braggadoccio surrounding atomic weaponry, the cheapness with which Asian life was held by the US (all of its direct engagements in cold war theaters were on the Pacific rim), the moral burden rather lays with those who would discredit the possibility. If the "reds" can be counted on to make lying propaganda, we've seen this puts them in good company. Added evidence for such attitude is the ongoing legal controversy of using *American* soldiers as unwitting guinea pigs in chemical-warfare experiments at the same time. Why wouldn't toxic levels be increased when experimenting upon enemy forces in the battlefield?

The authors have not taken anyone's side at face value. When the reservoirs at Chosen were bombed to flood North Korean rice fields, producing hunger to facilitate surrender, it was a fact regardless of politics. In contrast covert operations are murky by nature. Interested parties can continue to stonewall their existence, resting on classified material unlikely to ever be sanitized and used against them. For that reason, surfacing evidence deserves respect and independent scrutiny rather than dismissal. In my view Endicott and Hagerman have fulfilled that obligation.
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