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Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War Paperback – 13 May 2010
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Highly informative...Lockwood certainly succeeds in making a specialised academic subject fascinating. (Nicholas Lezard, Saturday Guardian)
Compelling. (Simon Schama, Financial Times)
Lockwood's approach is fresh. (PD Smith, The Guardian)
The book is an excellent read. (Michelle Harvey, Times Higher Education Supplement)
About the Author
Jeffrey A. Lockwood is Professor of Natural Sciences & Humanities at the University of Wyoming, where he teaches in the department of philosophy and in the M.F.A. program in creative writing. His work has been included in the popular anthology Best American Science and Nature Writing, and he is winner of both a Pushcart Prize and the John Burroughs Award. He is the author of Grasshopper Dreaming: Reflections on Killing and Loving and Locust: The Devastating Rise and Mysterious Disappearance of the Insect that Shaped the American Frontier.
Top Customer Reviews
Among the most compelling chapters in Lockwood's book are those devoted to the infamous Japanese general Ishii Shiro and his Unit 731, based in Japanese-occupied Manchuria (Northeastern China) during World War II, and responsible for countless crimes against humanity against both Chinese civilians and military prisoners of war.Read more ›
Bugs have been on battlefields since men had battles. As the scientific revolution developed protective measures improved. Humans being only human, scientists started to wonder whether, given that disease generally causes more casualties than conflict, the diseases could be targeted at the enemy via their natural vectors, insects.
The buzz I get from this book (sorry, Lockwood's gruesome puns are catching) is probably the reverse of the author's intention. Despite the huge investment by Japan and the US there is scant evidence that vector borne disease can be efficiently targeted, delivered and have lethally precise effects much better than dumb luck. And the possibilities for defence (releasing sterile male mosquitos in case of yellow fever attack, for example) are far more promising than the potential for offence.
Put yourself in the sandals of a village chief in Swat or Somalia. However fervently you pray for the victory of the terrorists, would you really help Al-Quaeda develop a bio-terrorism lab in your back yard? Thought not.
Vigilance for the threats described in this book is probably warranted. Getting phobic about it is not. For a less hectic history on the same subject you might try the classic Rats, Lice and History (Penguin Classic History)
The beginning chapters start off with some credibility of when he writes about the use of insects being used by various units throughout antiquity. Even the brilliant tactical use of pathogens without knowledge of how they were actually transmitted like malaria to debilitate and army by maneuvering them into stagnant swampy areas where they thought the bad air (instead of the mosquito we know are responsible) would all the enemy to contract the disease. And the various peoples who used insect toxins on arrows to make their weapons more lethal. And then of course he retells the infamous story of Nasrullah Bahadur-Shah, the Emir of Bukhara in Central Asia, who used assassin bugs and sheep ticks to torture his enemies in the black pit; a pit that makes me shudder as I read about it. The author is attentive to the affect that disease had on the world and military history and how a small attack could spread to cause unexpected consequences.
If his writing would have continued in this vein the book would have been considerably better. Perhaps if he had collaborated with an historian this would have been a truly classic book.Read more ›
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