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A History of Chemical and Biological Weapons Hardcover – April 30, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


"This concise work, with its extensive references and bibliography, will be of interest to all students and professionals in the fields of history, political science, public policy, toxicology, and chemical technology. Recommended."
(R.E. Buntrock Choice)

“A succinct and readily accessible account of the history and key issues associated with chemical and biological weapons from World War I to the present. . . . An excellent overview of an often underappreciated segment of 20th- and 21st-century security studies. . . . It deserves the thoughtful attention of both students and professionals.”

(Military Review)

“A comprehensive overview of the development, future, and implications of biological and chemical weapons. Spiers’s book traces the origins of chemical and biological warfare from their ancient beginnings to the first major use of gas in 1915 in World War I, to more recent uses and suspicions of use.”

(Arms Control)

About the Author

Edward M. Spiers is a professor of strategic studies and the Pro-Dean of Research in the Faculty of Arts at Leeds University.  He is the author of many books, including Weapons of Mass Destruction: Prospects for Proliferation, and has contributed to publications such as Intelligence and National Security, Journal of Strategic Studies, and Defence Analysis.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books (April 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861896514
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861896513
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,303,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

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This book commences with a brief introduction as to what constitutes a chemical or biological weapon and the various categories therein. It then details the history of the use of chemical and biological weapons from WWI until the present and discusses issues related to disarmament/treaties. It concludes with an analysis of where the field is heading, and issues for the future.

Though the book details known uses of chem/bio weapons, it does not describe the history of the discovery of various agents and how they were synthesised into weapons. So don't expect `laboratory level' details like in Richard Rhode's Making Of The Atomic Bomb. (this is possibly so as to not give unsavoury individuals tips)

The book is written very matter-of-factly, so it can be slightly dry reading. The author doesn't attempt to force an agenda and does not write emotionally, so the information appears encyclopaedic and reliable.

A table listing each of the agents and their effects would have been nice as a quick reference. But overall it is a good overview of 20th century chem/bio weapons history.
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