The Biology of Doom: The History of America's Secret Germ Warfare Project

Edward Regis, Jr., Author
Edward Regis, Jr., Author Henry Holt & Company $25 (259p) ISBN 978-0-8050-5764-5
Reviewed on: 11/01/1999
Release date: 11/01/1999
Paperback - 259 pages - 978-0-8050-5765-2
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Regis (Virus Ground Zero, etc.) presents a thorough, frightening look at America's biological warfare program, from its inception during the late 1930s through the 1980s. He covers all the bases in looking at the strategic and scientific developments of biological warfare both in the U.S. and among its principal adversaries, including Japan, Germany and Russia. The topic is gruesome: Regis reveals that humans, as well as guinea pigs, rhesus monkeys and other animals, were exposed to live infectious agents. Bombs were created to remain underwater, then surface and spray out germs; tests were done on the efficacy of fleas as agents to carry plague. Regis writes for the layperson, and he is careful to depict the human dramas behind the science. He writes, for instance, of the scientist who tested psychotropic agents on unwitting co-workers and of the University of Wisconsin professor who had been drafted into the war effort and found it impossible to get out (as Regis puts it, ""being in the profession was all too much like being in the Mafia: once you were in, you were in for good""). Along his way to reporting this important and underdiscussed aspect of the Cold War, Regis offers a great deal of startling evidence on the use of biological agents during the Korean conflict--and, also disturbing, that America used data from Japanese biological warfare tests done on Manchurian criminals. (Nov.)
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