Weapons of Mass Destruction
The Essential Reference Guide
by Eric A. Croddy, Jeffrey A. Larsen, and James J. Wirtz, Editors
October 2018, 359pp, 7 x 10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-5574-0
$103, £80, 90€, A142
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The United States Department of Defense continues to warn against potential threats from biological weapons. How real are those threats, and why or why not?

Whether one is interested in learning about anthrax, sarin, the neutron bomb—or any other weapon of mass destruction—this thorough and detailed reference is the place to find answers.

The threat posed by weapons of mass destruction (WMD), whether nuclear, radiological, chemical, or biological, is the number-one topic of concern for the intelligence community, first responders, policymakers, and myriad non-governmental organizations—and many members of the general public. This authoritative reference will serve all of those parties by covering the full spectrum of mass-casualty weapons. The guide will not only enable people to educate themselves, but also to separate the truth from the spurious information that abounds.

The book offers an A-to-Z listing of major topics, making finding information about concepts, scientific theories, and realities of WMD fast and easy. While the framework of WMD goes back centuries, the major focus of this reference is on weapons that date from the use of chemical warfare in World War I. The book also covers WMD from the early nuclear era (World War II), the Cold War, and the present (Syria, North Korea, etc.). Each entry is written in a clear, accessible style and includes crucial background information, making this book an essential resource for both lay readers and specialists. Armed with this portable database, readers will have the confidence to deal with, discuss, or write about WMD of all kinds based on an understanding of relevant concepts, policies, and scientific fundamentals.


  • Includes a comprehensive A-to-Z listing and discussion of significant weapons of mass destruction in their historical and present-day contexts
  • Offers straightforward narratives that place these threats into a practical framework
  • Presents the most crucial aspects about each WMD topic, distilling decades of research and analysis
  • Features non-technical discussions of the fundamental concepts as well as the basic science concerning each WMD threat
  • Analyzes the real and perceived threats of WMD from their beginnings in World War I into the future
  • Provides primary source documents, including a full listing of Australia Group export controlled substances, technologies, and biological agents
Eric A. Croddy specializes in weapons of mass destruction with a focus on chemical and biological warfare. Until 2017 he was a missile analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency. He authored Chemical and Biological Warfare: An Annotated Bibliography, World Markets for Chemical and Biological Warfare Agent Detection, and Chemical and Biological Warfare: A Comprehensive Survey for the Concerned Citizen. He is also coeditor, with James J. Wirtz and Jeffrey A. Larsen, of ABC-CLIO's Encyclopedia of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Jeffrey A. Larsen, PhD, is president of Larsen Consulting Group. He has worked on U.S. nuclear policy for the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Strategic Command, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Until 2018 he was head of the Research Division at the NATO Defense College. His publications include On Limited Nuclear War in the 21st Century, NATO's Response to Hybrid Threats, Strategic Culture and Weapons of Mass Destruction, Dealing with Disaster: Consequence Management, Encyclopedia of Weapons of Mass Destruction, Historical Dictionary of Arms Control and Disarmament, Arms Control: Cooperative Security in a Changing Environment, Nuclear Transformation: The New US Nuclear Doctrine, and Rockets' Red Glare: Missile Defenses and the Future of World Politics.

James J. Wirtz, PhD, is professor and Dean of the School of International Graduate Studies, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He has worked nuclear policy issues for the Department of Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Navy. He is coeditor of Planning the Unthinkable: How New Powers Will Use Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Weapons; Encyclopedia of Weapons of Mass Destruction; Arms Control and Cooperative Security; Nuclear Transformation: The New US Nuclear Doctrine; The Absolute Weapon Revisited; and Rockets' Red Glare: Missile Defenses and the Future of World Politics.


"Some readers may find the scientific entries a bit technical, but they may expect to learn something new, even eye-opening upon picking up this well-written volume. VERDICT A helpful addition to any reference collection; relevant for ­under­graduates and public library users alike." —Library Journal, April 1, 2019

". . .this reference tool would still be useful in libraries serving high school or undergraduate clientele."—ARBA, February 4, 2019
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