Secret Science

Secret Science : A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments

3.94 (18 ratings by Goodreads)
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From the early 1990s, allegations that servicemen had been duped into taking part in trials with toxic agents at top-secret Allied research facilities throughout the twentieth century featured with ever greater frequency in the media. In Britain, a whole army of over 21,000 soldiers had participated in secret experiments between 1939 and 1989. Some remembered their stay as harmless, but there were many for whom the experience had been all but pleasant, sometimes harmful, and in isolated cases deadly. Secret Science traces, for the first time, the history of chemical and biological weapons research by the former Allied powers, particularly in Britain, the United States, and Canada. It charts the ethical trajectory and culture of military science, from its initial development in response to Germany's first use of chemical weapons in the First World War to the ongoing attempts by the international community to ban these types of weapons once and for all. It asks whether Allied and especially British warfare trials were ethical, safe, and justified within the prevailing conditions and values of the time.
By doing so, it helps to explain the complex dynamics in top-secret Allied research establishments: the desire and ability of the chemical and biological warfare corps, largely comprised of military officials, scientists, and expert civil servants, to construct and identify a never-ending stream of national security threats which served as flexible justification strategies for the allocation of enormous resources to conducting experimental research with some of the most deadly agents known to man. Secret Science offers a nuanced, non-judgemental analysis of the contributions made by servicemen, scientists, and civil servants to military research in Britain and elsewhere, not as passive, helpless victims 'without voices', or as laboratory and desk perpetrators 'without a conscience', but as history's actors and agents of their own destiny. As such it also makes an important contribution to the burgeoning literature on the history and culture of memory.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 672 pages
  • 162 x 239 x 41mm | 1,106g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • numerous black and white figures/illustrations
  • 019929979X
  • 9780199299799
  • 376,711

Table of contents

Prologue: The Girl with a Gas Mask ; 1. Introduction ; 2. Justifying Chemical Warfare ; 3. Research Without Bounds ; 4. Preparing for Total Warfare ; 5. Deadly New Gases ; 6. Flying the Atlantic ; 7. Ethics Outdoors ; 8. Twilight Threshold ; 9. Ethics Within Limits ; 10. The Politics of Medical Memory ; Epilogue: The Truth Lies in Fragmented Tales
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Review quote

Schmidt's book is a welcome addition to the literature and represents a view of chemical warfare that is focused on the medical and political side rather than the military aspects of the weapons. * Andrew Ede, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences * compelling both as an enlightening account of shocking human experiments that have taken place over the last century and as an important contribution to literature on the history of medical ethics and the culture, networks and politics of military research in general. * Alex Mankoo, British Journal for the History of Science * Drawing on unprecedented access to surviving records, Secret Science is an important and groundbreaking work by an author suited perfectly to tackling the topic. Schmidt is a specialist in the history of medical ethics and modern warfare-in 2004, he was an expert witness in the inquest that finally revealed the details of Ronald Maddison's death-and knows very well that a historian's priorities are to improve knowledge and understanding and not to dish out blame. * Roderick Bailey, Lancet * This monumental history of twentieth-century military medical ethics is a meticulous record of ambiguity. * Nature, 10/07/2015 * If you've ever wondered what really went on behind the barbed wire fences and guarded doors in labs like [Porton Down], Secret Science provides as thoroughly researched and comprehensive an account as you are likely to get. * New Scientist, Linda Geddes * This massive piece of research, though far from easy or pleasant reading, fills and important gap. Whether we agree with it or not, at least we know what has been going on. * Daily Mail, Peter Lewis * Ulf Schmidt deserves praise for writing such a comprehensive and clear book... this is an impressive work. * M. Girard Dorsey, ISIS *
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About Ulf Schmidt

Ulf Schmidt is Professor of Modern History at the University of Kent, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He was previously Wellcome Trust Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Senior Associate Member of St Antony's College, Oxford, and Research Associate at the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine at the University of Oxford.

His research interests are in the area of the history of modern medical ethics, warfare and policy in twentieth-century Europe and the United States. He has published widely on the history of Nazi Germany, the history of human experimentation, the Nuremberg Doctors' Trial and the Nuremberg Code, the history of eugenics and euthanasia, and the history of medical film and propaganda.
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Rating details

18 ratings
3.94 out of 5 stars
5 17% (3)
4 67% (12)
3 11% (2)
2 6% (1)
1 0% (0)
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