Kirkus Reviews QR Code
SOWING THE DRAGON'S TEETH by Philip C. Winslow

SOWING THE DRAGON'S TEETH

Land Mines and the Global Legacy of War

By Philip C. Winslow

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1997
ISBN: 0-8070-5004-0
Publisher: Beacon

 A globe-trotting journalist's harrowing rundown on the horrific toll taken by land mines long after the wars during which they were laid have ended. Drawing largely on his own experiences in Angola, Winslow provides both big-picture perspectives and anecdotal evidence on this ghastly threat afflicting much of the Third World. All told, roughly 110 million mines (anti-tank and anti-personnel) remain buried in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Egypt, Israel, Korea, Mozambique, Somalia, Vietnam, and scores of other countries. Every year, these devices kill or maim 26,000 people, virtually all of them civilians. Worse yet, the lethal legacy continues to grow; guerilla forces are laying one million new mines each year, according to UN estimates. Thanks to their capacity to channel and contain enemy troops in combat zones at a comparatively modest cost, land mines have become weapons of choice for regular and insurgent armies. But as the author explains in his reportage on clearance crews dispatched by humanitarian organizations, it's a lot easier and cheaper to put sensitive packages of explosives below the surface of the ground than it is to remove or disarm them. Nor, as he documents in bleak detail, are the doctors and nurses posted to battlegrounds by private relief agencies able to do much more than perform basic amputations for those who survive a land-mine blast. Covered as well is the indifference of corrupt governments to the plight of innocents crippled or dismembered by accidental detonations, the dearth of crutches (let alone prosthetics) in areas where the need is desperate, the chilling effect of live minefields on once-bustling population centers, and the emergent Canadian-led campaign to ban the use of land mines. An eloquent case against ordnance that was characterized by no less an authority than William Tecumseh Sherman as ``not war, but murder.'' (b&w photos, not seen)