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War of Nerves: Chemical Warfare from World War I to al-Qaeda Hardcover – February 7, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
It is an excellent primer on the history, manufacture, use, storage, disposal, and just about everything else regarding nerve gas. One thing that I was surprised to not find was any reference to Japan's Unit 731 which conducted chemical warfare experiments in China during World War II.
Finally, since the book was written information has come out about one of the roadside bombs that the insurgents set off in Iraq. This was a binary nerve gas artillery shell. Fortunately, the shell was designed so that it had to be fired from a cannon to be armed. When it was set off on the ground the two agents did not mix and only a very small amount of nerve agent was generated.
This book is not exactly light, fun reading, but it is a sign of our times and it is to be expected that al-Queda or some other organization will succeed one day.
As other reviewers have said, you won't get info on bactratoxins, secret CIA transdermals etc. as this focuses on nerve gases predominantly. There is a LOT known about China but not a lot said here but that's not a fault, the coverage is broad and deep with few exceptions.
If you enjoy historical novels or well written "reader friendly" history, the author is amazing in the amount of very human detail he gives, including the horrific treatments of conscripted workers in many of these plants. When having a bad day I think of the guy the author describes who watched thousands of his co-workers die of poisoning, marched while thousands of others died like walking skeletons to other prison camps and factories, only, after being one of a few to survive, to be hunted down and murdered by the Gestapo for "knowing" too much!!! I'm not suggesting this topic is entertaining, but the author gives so much detail, you have to keep reminding yourself it is NOT a novel.
Highly recommended not just for those interested in the narrow topic of nerve agents, but also the human side of to use or not to use decisions, and anyone that wants a very detailed look at this aspect of military history.
as phosphorus compounds( they are not)> Strangely, I have noticed this same error in another book I reviewed on sarin.
The book covers use of nerve gases in the Iran-Iraq war , the Gulf wars, War in Yemen , the Syrian civil war. Terrorism by a Japanese cult
involving an attack on the Tokyo subway (using sarin) is covered in detail. The shocking part of the story (apart from the loss of life) was the
apparent ease with which the cult set up a factory for making sarin by the ton. Also covered in the book is the attack on a theater in Russia
which may have involved Fentanyl(not chemically related to the nerve gases).
Finally. a good deal of space is devoted to the attempts to outlaw chemical weapons by international treaty, and to the efforts at destruction
of existing stockpiles. The moral here seems to be that it is easier to make these substances than it is to keep them safely or to destroy them .
The substances mentioned include Tabun, Sarin, Soman, Novichok compounds, Tammelin esters, and VX
Not much discussion of other CW agents like Lewisite, Adamsite , mustard gas or tear gas, but then they are not anticholinesterase nerve agents.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a cadet moving into the Army as a Chemical Corps officer I was looking for an introduction of the history of the Chemical Corps and chemical warfare. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Andrew Lindsay
Interesting and quick read (read it on a three day business trip). Illustrates the simultaneous revulsion and attraction to this weapon of mass destruction. Read morePublished 23 months ago by John Millerd
gr8 book for anyone who loves military history & weapons of war.... a must read for just about anyone who loves history in generalPublished on May 1, 2013 by dopeysnowwhite
I bought the book specifically for one subject area but, once reading those few references I found myself unable to put the book down. Read morePublished on February 3, 2013 by Richard Rupert
As a scientist in this field I was looking for a historical overview of chemicals weapons. This is a very comprehensive overview of nerve agents. Read morePublished on October 21, 2010 by Brooke Pearson
Great review of chemical warfare past & present. Perfect reference for anyone involved with homeland security or disaster preparedness.Published on April 12, 2008 by M. Jensen