A Higher Form of Killing opens with the first devastating battlefield use of lethal gas in World War I, and then investigates the stockpiling of biological weapons during World War II and in the decades afterward as well as the inhuman experiments con-ducted to test their effectiveness. This updated edition includes a new Introduction and a new final chapter exposing frightening developments in recent years, including the black market that emerged in chemical and biological weapons following the breakup of the Soviet Union, the acquisition of these weapons by various Third World states, the attempts of countries such as Iraq to build up arsenals, and--particularly and most recently--the use of these weapons in terrorist attacks.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of History eBook: A Higher Form of Killing: The Secret History of Chemical and Biological Warfare|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
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|Publisher: Random House, Inc.|
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A Higher Form of Killing: The Secret History of Chemical and Biological Warfare
The twenty-second of April 1915 had been a warm and sunny day, but toward the end of the afternoon a breeze sprang up. It came from the north, from behind the German lines, blew across no-man's-land, and gently fanned the faces of the Allied soldiers in position around the village of Langemarck, near Ypres.
They were new to the trenches-French reservists and Algerians from France's north African colony. To them the fresh wind must have seemed a good omen, for a few seconds later, as if on cue, the German guns that had been bombarding them all day suddenly stopped firing. An abrupt silence descended over the front.
A few hundred yards away, four divisions-of the Twenty-third and Twenty-sixth German Army Corps-crouched in their trenches. They had waited there since dawn, unable to move for fear of giving away their presence. Now, just as it had begun to seem too late, the moment had come. The wind had changed. An attack.
At five o'clock, three red rockets streaked into the sky, signaling the start of a deafening artillery barrage. High-explosive shells pounded into the deserted town of Ypres and the villages around it. At the same time the troops sheltering near Langemarck saw two greenish-yellow clouds rise from the enemy's lines, catch the wind, and billow forward, gradually merging to form a single bank of blue-white mist: out of sight, in special emplacements protected by sandbags and concrete, German chemical warfare pioneers were opening the valves of 6,000 cylinders spread out along a four-mile front. The cylinders contained liquid chlorine-the instant the pressure was released and it came into contact with the air it vaporized and hissed out to form a dense cl...