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200 × 130 × 22 mm
280 pages
18 Jan 2021

Agents of War A History of Chemical and Biological Weapons, Second Expanded Edition Edward M. Spiers

Often described as the misuse of science, chemical and biological weapons have incurred widespread opposition over the years. Despite condemnation from the United Nations, governments and the disarmament lobby, they remain very real options for rogue states and terrorists. This much-needed history is now available in paperback, and has been expanded and updated with two new chapters on political poisoning and chemical weapons in the Middle East. In Agents of War Edward M. Spiers breaks new ground by presenting his analysis in both historical and contemporary contexts, giving a comprehensive chronological account of why, where and when such weapons were used or suspected to be deployed.

‘a succinct and readily accessible account of the history and key issues associated with chemical and biological weapons from World War I to the present . . . an excellent overview of an often underappreciated segment of 20th- and 21st-century security studies . . . It deserves the thoughtful attention of both students and professionals.’ — Military Review

‘This concise work, with its extensive references and bibliography, will be of interest to all students and professionals in the fields of history, political science, public policy, toxicology, and chemical technology. Recommended.’ — Choice

‘provides a compelling case for governments across the globe not to overlook the potential threat of biological and chemical weapons . . . the book is more than just a history of these weapons, but also an important addition to the literature on the types of threat we are likely to face in the future . . . an important reminder of the substantial destructive and psychological power of chemical and biological weapons, as well as an accessible history about how states have thought about their use and utility in the past.’ — Political Studies Review

‘a comprehensive overview of the development, future, and implications of biological and chemical weapons. Spiers book traces the origins of chemical and biological warfare from their ancient beginnings to the first major use of gas in 1915 in World War I, to more recent uses and suspicions of use.’ — Arms Control

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Edward M. Spiers is Emeritus Professor at the University of Leeds. He is the author of nineteen books, including Chemical Warfare (1985) and Weapons of Mass Destruction: Prospects for Proliferation (2000).


1 The Legacy of Gas Warfare in the First World War
2 Deterrence and Disarmament: Responses to Chemical
and Biological Warfare, 1919–93
3 Chemical Warfare in Third World Conflicts
4 The Proliferation of Chemical and Biological Weapons
5 Iraq's Chemical and Biological Warfare Programmes
6 Chemical and Biological Terrorism
7 The Recurrence of Chemical Warfare in the Middle East
8 Political Assassination by Poisoning
Conclusion: The Evolving Nature of Chemical and Biological Warfare

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