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Reviewed by:
  • Historical Dictionary of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare
  • John E. van Courtland Moon, Emeritus
Historical Dictionary of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare. By Benjamin C. Garrett and John Hart. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2007. ISBN 978-08108-5480-0. Bibliography. Pp. xxxvi, 259. $85.00.

In their preface to their Historical Dictionary of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare, Benjamin C. Garrett and John Hart, two experts on weapons of mass destruction, arms control, and disarmament, define their aim: "In selecting the entries for this volume, attempts have been made to provide an overview of historical, legal, technical, and political aspects of nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) weapons" (p. ix). In my opinion, they have succeeded admirably. It is a work that scholars, policy makers, and arms controllers will want to keep on their desks for quick reference. The general non-specialist who wants to become knowledgeable about the history of these weapons will also find it useful. Although the authors do not skirt the technical aspects of their subject, the style of the book is clear.

Nevertheless, this reviewer has a few points to make which the authors might find useful in any future edition.

First, there is one problem of misdirected placement. The entry on the ABM Treaty fails to mention the US renunciation of the treaty. Although the US action is mentioned under the entry on START II (p. 209), it would have been better placed under the earlier entry.

Second, since most readers will use this dictionary as a reference tool, a book to be picked up on occasion when some question comes to their attention, a number of additional entries would add to its reference value. The entries that came to this reviewer's mind are: Allegations: of CBW Use in Korea, China, East Germany, Cuba; LSD: Use by the CIA on unsuspecting subjects; Terrorism; Verification and, most important of all, the Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars") program. Although references to the above subjects are found scattered throughout other entries, the general user is not apt to locate them, especially since there is no index. The lack of an index is somewhat compensated for by the thorough cross-referencing that accompanies the existing entries.

The book contains a bibliographical essay which should be required reading for all beginning scholars. It details the different sources of information that are available in the public domain on NBC weapons and the limitations of different source categories. This limitation is particularly evident in the sensitive area of biological weapons. As the authors note: "…the NBC [End Page 302] field can be divided according to academics, government employees, international civil servants, defense contractors, and the news media" (p. 238). All five sources have value; all have limitations. In the opinion of this reviewer, the limitations analyzed by the authors are exacerbated by the excessive secrecy that has descended since 9/11 on NBC matters. Information long in the public domain has been re-classified; ironically, some of it is easily available in existing publications.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1543-7795
Print ISSN
0899-3718
Pages
pp. 302-303
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-21
Open Access
No
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