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Secret Science: A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments by [Schmidt, Ulf]
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Secret Science: A Century of Poison Warfare and Human Experiments 1st , Kindle Edition

4.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Review

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)

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 monumental history of twentieth-century military medical ethics is a meticulous record of ambiguity. (Nature, 10/07/2015)

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)

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)

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)

About the Author

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 7139 KB
  • Print Length: 668 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 1 edition (9 July 2015)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00WN5C6U2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #394,669 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition
The author is a History professor at Kent University. His book is about government research into poison warfare carried out in the main at Porton Down in Wiltshire. Porton was established in 1916 to carry out research into chemical warfare. During the Second World War research and testing of biological weapons was added. So secret was Porton that its very existence was not admitted until the 1960's.

The main focus of his book is the failure to inform those service personnel who volunteered to participate in experiments that they were placing themselves in danger. As a result a number of the volunteers suffered bad burns, hallucinations, and one died from exposure to the deadly sarin gas.

The research took place in great secrecy between 1939 and 1989 against a backdrop of fear that the Nazis, and later the soviets, were planning to use poison gas and nerve agents in combat. Churchill was a firm supporter of our research, pouring scorn on those who opposed it. Some 22,000 servicemen took part in the covert tests. Many believed they were participating in research to find a cure for the common cold. A senior member of Porton Down admitted that they were not told the truth because : ' if you advertised for people to suffer agony, you would not get them'. Only in 1981 did the government recognise the claims of hundreds of victims and offered compensation.

This is a very well written scholarly account of a rather nasty aspect of the need to prepare for any eventuality in warfare. Unfortunately, the research required human guinea pigs not the animal kind. If the enemy had used gas and agents and we had not researched how to combat them the government would have been castigated. The tragedy is that unwittingly innnocent. service personnel had as a consequence to suffer.
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Format: Hardcover
This isn’t an easy book to read. It’s a challenging read. The author, Ulf Schmidt, is an academic, professor of modern history and director of the Centre for the History of Medicine, Ethics and Medical Humanities at the University of Kent, UK. He writes like an academic with a dry neutrality and a denseness of information. But it is also a difficult read because of its subject, namely the Porton Down scientists’ experimentation on unwitting subjects.

Much of the book focuses on the military personnel who were tricked or misled into exposure with chemical and nerve agents. They appear to have been given little information on the true nature of the substances they were to be exposed to and many suffered as a result. Most movingly is the case of airman Ronald Maddison who was poisoned with the nerve agent Sarin and subsequently died. Some of the test subjects rebelled and refused to go on with the experiments while elsewhere, others were compelled to continue, with a mixture of bravado and peer pressure used to keep them onside. Some of the injuries these men suffered were catastrophic.

If that wasn’t bad enough, Schmidt reveals that the scientists at Porton Down also had the wider public in their sights. A chemical of ‘largely unknown toxic potential’ was dispersed by plane over civilian populations in Wiltshire, Bedfordshire and Norfolk. Similarly ships, aircraft and moving lorries dispersed the carcinogen zinc cadmium sulphide. The London Underground was also targeted with Bacillus globigii, a bacterium now thought to be linked to food poisoning, eye infections and septicemia released on the Northern Line.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book gives a fascinating look into the secret activity of chemical and biological warfare. In fact it is hard to believe the shocking disregard the authority's had for the life and welfare of the human subjects they experimented on using the most poisonous and toxic materials know to man and in some instances on an unsuspecting public. Read it and never believe what any authority might tell you about anything that is happening in the military arena of research on how to kill and incapacitate human beings.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A detailed history of the development and introduction of chemical weapons, this account also explores overseas research establishments whose real purpose was kept hidden from the public. In summary the book is a well researched, thorough and comprehensive account of events which occurred in wartime secrecy.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Not managed to get stuck in but I think that's more me than the book. It arrived quickly and I'm looking forward to being in the right mindset to read it as it looks like it'll be a great read and the chapter I've read so far was well written. I shall update and adjust my rating up or down when completed but so far so good.
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This is a terrible book that reveals the prejudice and bias of the author without giving the texts to which he refers. There are many references - butr the quotes are few and far between and have little bearing on the (repetitive and not substatntiated) argument. It reads like a mediocre MA from a B student (and I have read many and failed quite a few for it).
The subject ought to be interesting, but this book is not.
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