Aftermath: The Remnants of War

Donovan Webster, Author Pantheon Books $23 (279p) ISBN 978-0-679-43195-4
War scars land as well as people. That is the truth that Webster, a former senior editor of Outside magazine, explores in his evocative first book, expanded from an article he wrote for the Smithsonian magazine. Webster proceeds by examining the physical legacies of 20th-century conflict. In France, the legacy consists of unexploded shells and bombs--12 million of them at Verdun alone. At Stalingrad, there are the bones of 300,000 German dead. In Nevada, Webster surveys the results of a decade of open-air nuclear testing, and of disposal sites poisoned for the next 12,000 years by stored nuclear waste. Vietnam, devastated by high explosive and chemical defoliants, continues to pay war's price in mutilated adults and malformed children. The author finds that the deserts of Kuwait are sown with seven million land mines left behind by the armies of Desert Storm and that, in Utah, the U.S. seeks to destroy chemical agents no less toxic for being obsolete. Webster tours these sites himself, personalizing his narrative. He describes their origins and introduces the people who seek to mitigate their effects. More than many academic analyses, this finely written work provides a compelling story of what humanity is willing to do to its world--and itself--in the name of national interest. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Open Ebook - 137 pages - 978-0-307-79725-4
Hardcover - 279 pages - 978-0-517-26781-3
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-0-679-75153-3
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