Chemical and Biological Warfare

A Reference Handbook

by Al Mauroni


From agent orange to anthrax, chemical and biological warfare is often viewed as an abhorrent, immoral weapon abused by evil despots of weaker nations. Why, then, did the U.S. government, now focused on eliminating “weapons of mass destruction,” sponsor the development and stockpiling of chemical and biological weapons between 1918 and 1990?

Print Flyer

July 2003


Pages 243
Volumes 1
Size 6x9
Topics Current Events and Issues/Science and Technology
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The first introductory work of its kind to survey the fundamentals, policies, and strategies of chemical and biological warfare from 1915 to the present.

Chemical and Biological Warfare: A Reference Handbook surveys the history of modern chemical and biological weapons, from their genesis on World War I battlefields through their World War II deployment and Cold War research and development to present-day policies and strategies.

Casting aside moral issues and scare tactics, this uniquely unbiased reference explores both sides of this highly controversial topic, explaining the utility, necessity, and protected use of such weapons as well as the ramifications of their abuse. From delivery systems (bombs, missiles, rockets) and defense methods (detection devices, protective suits, decontaminants) to the deployment of such weapons in the Vietnam and Persian Gulf Wars, students and concerned citizens alike will discover the real reasons behind U.S. support for chemical and biological warfare.


  • Includes a detailed chronology of key chemical and biological warfare issues from 1915 to the present
  • Provides a glossary of key military chemical and biological warfare terms used in the text


  • Goes beyond a simple moralistic discussion to present a balanced analysis of these weapons and to show how the government's perspective has changed over time
  • Explains why chemical and biological weapons are not “doomsday devices” like nuclear weapons
  • Presents current strategies and policies to address the threat from other nations' continued development of these weapons
Series Description

Contemporary World Issues

24-hour cable news. Millions of Internet sites. Information overload. How can we sort through the information? Assess the analyses? Trust the sources?

This award-winning series offers comprehensive, one-volume reference handbooks on important topics related to health, education, the environment, and social and ethical issues.

A world of questions demands a library of answers. Contemporary World Issues covers the controversial topics that students, readers, and citizens want to read about, write about, and know more about. Visit the entire list of titles in the series at


  • Subject coverage spans six main categories:
  • Each volume offers a rich array of resources:
  • A background and history essay that provides essential context and grounding for further study
  • A balanced summary of ongoing controversies and proposed solutions that show numerous paths for further research on pressing, contemporary questions
  • A forum of authoritative perspective essays by experts, offering a broad spectrum of arguments on the issues
  • Carefully selected annotated documents, tables, and graphs that supports statistical literacy and investigation of primary sources
  • A chronology of events, legislation, and movements that place events in sequence and draw connections between them
  • Annotated lists of print, Web, and multimedia resources that power the next steps for in-depth research
  • Profiles of key players and organizations
  • A glossary of key terms
Author Info

Al Mauroni is a senior policy analyst for Analytic Sciences, Inc., working for the Department of Defense's chemical and biological defense program.



"[A]uthoritative, broad discussion . . . most suitable for students seeking in-depth information."—School Library Journal

"This volume provides a general-purpose introductory guide to its subject, written by a respected specialist with working experience in this field. . . . The writing style is direct and accessible, with many complex concepts clearly rendered. . . . This title deserves consideration from school and public libraries seeking a handy starting handbook to the information base for this area of warfare."—American Reference Books Annual

"This is one of the handbooks in the well-known Contemporary World Issues series that addresses vital issues in today's society. Each book, carefully organized and easy to use, contains an overview of the subject, a detailed chronology, biographical sketches, facts and data and other primary sources. The book under review is a detailed study of chemical and biological warfare."—Abstracts of Public Administration, Development, and the Environment

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