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Plague Upon Humanity: The Hidden History of Japan's Biological Warfare Program Paperback – 1 Feb 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Reprint edition (1 Feb. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060933879
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060933876
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,834,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Documents Japan's covert biological warfare program, from the Unit 731 experimentation on thousands of Chinese victims during the Second World War, to MacArthur's contributions to limiting the unit's accountability. Reprint. 10,000 first printing.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
An important and well written book. 7 Jun. 2006
By D. Schonberger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A Plague Upon Humanity is extremely well-written and

and it fills in a gap in the literature on the subject

of Japanese wartime atrocities and US complicity in

its cover-up.

The review by "Harkius" below contains false

statements that need to be challenged.

First, contrary to Harkius' statement, this book

definitely uses a number of primary sources, and

quite valuable and dramatic ones at that. They are

clearly listed in the endnotes and sometimes in the

body of the chapter texts as well.

Harkius writes that the book errs in calling the

agent of typus by the name Eberthella typhosa. In

fact, this was the common name used for the bacteria

in the time period examined in the book, the years

of Imperial Japanese germ warfare and Unit 731, so

it is perfectly acceptable to use the term. It is

precisely the same bacteria that would later go by the

name Salmonella typhi.

The book's narrative of the unfolding history is

quite clear, easy to read and chronological. I had

no problem following the details of the story and

cannot comprehend why he would characterize its style

as "schizophrenic".

Exactly the opposite is true.

Harkius completely misquotes the author by saying

that he writes that a girl's vivisection by Japanese

invaders was "the exact act of a devil." Author

Barenblatt did NOT say that, rather that is a quote

from the testimony of a Chinese woman from the

girl's village and it is presented in the book as

the account of a Chinese survivor and an eyewitness.

And it is perfectly appropriate for her to describe

the horrific medical atrocity this way. Once again,

Harkius has it completely wrong. The actual quote of

the woman, Wang Lijun, is: "an 18-year-old girl,

named Wu Xiaonai, was disssected alive, and had her

internal organs taken out while she was still alive,

which was exactly a devil's act. Zhang Julian who

saw that bloodcurdling scene was frightened and

barely escaped with her life ..."

As for the book he recommends, "Alibekov's

Biohazard", I am quite familiar with it and it has

only a brief, error-filled mention

of Japan's germ warfare and human experiments, and

it completely omits the U.S. secret recruitment of

Japan's criminal doctors after the war. This is not

surprising since co-author Alibek (who also uses the

name "Alibekov") himself

unapologetically worked in the US biowar program and

so cannot be trusted to give an unbiased, truthful


I would say that if you are interested in this

subject, you will find it quite difficult if not

impossible to find any work aside from Barenblatt's A

Plague Upon Humanity that is as readable and that is based

upon as much up-to-date independent research as his.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
A Living Nightmare 24 Jan. 2007
By B. Buzzini - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book offers insight into a primarily unexplored portion of history. Terrifying is the most descriptive term I can think of to portray the magnitude of what I felt by reading this book.

It is well researched and flows well for reading. In fact, it flows almost too well as the reader finds himself in Harbin in the 1930s and the terror that ensued with the biological warfare program.

The thought of human vivisection is too overpowering when considering the absolute hell the victims must have endured. How this horror has remained largely unchallenged defies the laws of humanity!

Proceed with caution...this book offers nightmares more intense than any best selling horror novel could ever offer.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Excellent History of Japanese Atrocities 9 July 2009
By Jack Randolph Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is excellent history of Japanese atrocities. It is well written and easy to read. Well researched. Some surprising events, little known history. Recommend to serious students of Pacific war.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Just Plain Mediocre 3 May 2010
By R. Sexton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I went ahead that got this book because, as a historian of China in particular and Asia in general, I wanted a good overview of the activities and history of Unit 731. I knew the basic facts already, but I hoped to have a solid book of history, replete with facts, describing the hows and whys for the unit's existence and activities.

This book, however, was a real disappointment, for a few reasons. First, the author doesn't really have a command of the subject matter about which he's writing. He has no background in history, instead having a degree in cognitive psychology. The lack of that background is especially telling in a quick glance through the endnotes. Instead of specific sources for specific facts, he uses individual notes to cover sentences in which multiple facts are stated. And to add to this problem, it seems that the author isn't proficient in Japanese. His sources are all English, and often secondary sources. The fact that he uses secondary sources so heavily is surprising, given that he states multiple times near the beginning of the book that the public is unaware of Japanese bioweapons because they have been covered up.

Add to these problems the fact that the book doesn't have a thesis that I can make out, except perhaps, "Japan's crimes against humanity are bad." How brave. Presumably he can't make out much more than that because of his lack of proficiency in Japanese.

In addition to these issues, there's just sloppiness throughout the book. For example, referring to dissections of live human beings when he means vivisections. And then, in the last chapter, "What The Deal Bought," he strongly suggests that the US used biological weapons in the Korean war, though he admits that "U.S. historians" deny it. Given that the academy is hardly a hotbed of pro-American sentiment, one would think that if there were good evidence for the charge, it would have been found by groups other than far-left organizations.

Generally, the book has some decent value as a primer. If all you want is a basic introduction to Unit 731, skimming this book is worthwhile. Otherwise, Factories of Death is a much more scholarly book with more evidence behind it, and Unit 731 Testimony is more direct. If you're only going to read one book on the topic, read those instead.
being prepared 31 Dec. 2013
By charles riley - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am studying disaster preparedness and emergency managment, this book offered an insight into peoples minds and how they operate in the biological and cheical weapons world, there motivation and the results from there work. The scientists in this book went right to the source to find the real answers to there science endeavors.
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