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The United States and Biological Warfare:…

The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets from the Early Cold War…

by Stephen Endicott

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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0253334721, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:31 -0400)

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