Saturday, April 30, 2016

Review of Secret Science: A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments

There have long been allegations that many servicemen had been duped into taking part in trials with toxic agents at top-secret Allied research facilities. In Britain, a whole army of over 21,000 soldiers had participated in secret experiments between 1939 and 1989. Some remembered them as innocuous, others as harmful, and in isolated cases deadly. Ulf Schmidt offers a comprehensive history of chemical and biological weapons research by former Allied powers, providing a significant new interpretation of the cover-up of the death of a British serviceman in 1953. Employing new archival material and including many interviews with those involved, he charts the history of this "secret science" from its development during the First World War to the ongoing attempts by the international community to ban these weapons.

As you might expect from the blurb this book is not light reading, it is far from reading a textbook more like a very favorable written research paper. Ulf Schmidt took it upon himself to extensively look into the Porton Down Project, which during WWI, WWII, and the Cold War most of England's chemical and biological warfare research was performed. Whereas Porton Down was the main focus he also included how other countries were progressing with chemical warfare during that time also. All knowledge pertaining to this story is very well referenced not leaving a doubt in my mind any information in this read is untrue. Therefore, the prose was favorably assembled so the reader could easily follow the story since it does cover a lot of material being that the book is six hundred pages.

The science aspect of the book is pleasingly executed, but it is the people behind the science and what they determined was appropriate to perform testing on is disturbing. Unknowing military personnel were misled and deceived into being guinea pigs for the testing of deadly chemicals, biological agents, and nerve gas. This lead to horrific deaths and life long health issues. As usual, any morals or ethics the military might have possessed were tossed out the window.

This is just a minute taste of an extraordinarily investigated look into biological and chemical warfare. Did you know that nerve agents were discovered in 1945?  What happened was outlandish and makes you wonder what is still happening behind locked doors today. This would be a great read for both history and science buffs. You will learn a lot from this book.
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"Thank You, NetGalley for allowing me to do this review"

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