THE UNITED STATES AND BIOLOGICAL WARFARE: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea by Stephen & Edward Hagerman Endicott

THE UNITED STATES AND BIOLOGICAL WARFARE: Secrets from the Early Cold War and Korea

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

An exposÆ’ of a little-known and shameful episode in American military history. Much has been made of the fact that the Japanese military during WWII resorted to the use of biological and chemical weapons, in violation of international law. Asian history specialist Endicott and military historian Hagerman, both professors at York University (Canada), together reveal that immediately after WWII, the US army picked up where the Japanese military left off, using testing facilities in Yokohama and Kyoto to find ways of turning plague, cholera, anthrax, undulant fever, encephalitis, salmonella, meningitis, typhus, and tularemia against the newfound Communist enemy. Lt. General Yujiro Wakamatsu, commander of the notorious Unit 100, which tested biological weapons on Chinese prisoners during WWII, found work as a research scientist in the principal American laboratory; so did many other Japanese scientists granted immunity for their wartime crimes. In 1952, the Chinese premier Zhou Enlai accused the US of conducting biological warfare in Korea--of dropping bombs, for instance, ""containing live insects of various descriptions and rotten fish, decaying pork, frogs, and rodents."" Drawing on recently declassified documents, the authors lend credence to Zhou's charge, which the US denied at the time. (Among other things cited here is an approving letter of 1953 from President Harry S. Truman suggesting ""that had the war in the Pacific not ended by mid-August 1945, [Truman] would have used biological as well as chemical weapons."") A number of villains turn up in Endicott and Hagerman's fast-paced narrative, among them key figures in American defense, pharmaceutical, medical, and intelligence circles; sadly, there are no heroes to match them. A convincing and shockingly relevant, case study of official and technological immorality.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1999
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Indiana Univ.