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Library Journal Review
This work is a well-documented history of deadly chemical agents and their use. Tucker (chemical & biological weapons specialist, Ctr. for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Inst. of International Studies, CA: Scourge: The Once and Future Threat of Smallpox) gives less attention to the two world wars and more to the huge programs and policy actions of the dangerous Cold War era, when there was widespread development and massive stockpiling of toxic nerve agents owing to fears of what the other side might have. With his access to declassified archival records, and through interviews with people involved in chemical weapons programs (both Soviet and anti-Soviet), the author is able to provide many details about the secret activities of important government agencies. What is most worrisome now are the efforts by terrorists to acquire these weapons (Tucker himself was a UN biological weapons expert in Iraq). We should all be prepared for the possibility of terrorist chemical warfare unless a complete abolition of the materials can be accomplished. General readers will have no problem with Tucker's writing, but the contents are probably of most interest to advanced students and specialists. With 54 photos, a glossary, and numerous endnotes -Daniel K. Blewett, Coll. of DuPage Lib., Glen Ellyn, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Policy analyst Tucker's book is the latest in a number of publications on weapons of mass destruction (WMD), especially on chemical agents, about which it is more encyclopedic. Discussion of nerve agents is predominant. The history of nerve agents is described in detail, including serendipitous discovery, production, proliferation, and the philosophy, psychology, and politics of use or nonuse. Mechanism of action is discussed, as are antidotes and the practicality of use against military targets. The history of military use, interwoven with other WMDs including nuclear and biological agents, is chronicled, as is civilian exposure. Tucker scrutinizes observance and nonobservance of international agreements as well as hopes for abolition of chemical agents, especially the elimination of stockpiles and the effectiveness of use bans in the face of proliferation to developing countries and terrorists. There is a good index as well as a glossary and chapter notes. A well-written and researched book for students at all levels plus professionals in the fields of history, political science, public policy, toxicology, and chemical technology. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels. R. E. Buntrock formerly, University of Maine