In wartime Japan's bid for conquest, humanity suffered through one of its darkest hours, as a hidden genocide took the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Cloaked in secrecy and protected under the banner of scientific study, the best and brightest of Japan's medical establishment volunteered for a major initiative in support of the military that involved the systematic murder of Chinese civilians. With the help of the United States government, they were allowed to get away with it. Based on important original research, this book reveals as never before the full extent of this crime, in a story that is as compelling as it is terrifying.
Beginning in 1931, the military of Imperial Japan came up with a new strategy to further the nation's drive for expansion: germ warfare. But they needed help to figure out how to do it. So they recruited thousands of doctors and research scientists, all of whom accepted willingly, in order to develop a massive program of biological warfare that was referred to as "the secret of secrets." This covert operation consisted of horrifying human experiments and germ weapon attacks against people whose lives were seen as expendable, including Chinese men, women, and children living in Manchuria and other areas of Japanese occupation. Even American POWs were targeted.
At the forefront of this disturbing enterprise wasan elite organization known as Unit 731, led by Japan's answer to Joseph Mengele, Dr. Shiro Ishii. Under Ishii'sorders, captives were subjected to deeds that strain the boundaries of imagination. Men and women were frozen alive to study the effects of frostbite. Others were dissected without anesthesia. Tied to posts, victims were infected with virulent strains of anthrax and other diseases. Entire cities were aerially sprayed with fleas carrying bubonic plague. All told, more than five hundred thousand people died. Yet after the war, U.S. occupation forces under General Douglas MacArthur struck a deal with the doctors of Unit 731 that shielded them from accountability for their atrocities.
In this meticulously documented work, Daniel Barenblatt has drawn upon startling new evidence of Japan's germ warfare program, including firsthand accounts from both perpetrators and survivors. Authoritative, alarming, and gripping from start to finish, A Plague upon Humanity is a powerful investigation that exposes one of the most shameful chapters in human history.
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Daniel Barenblatt holds degrees from Harvard and UCLA, and his writing about the Japanese germ warfare program has appeared in the Washington Post. He lives in New York City.
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