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.Review:
Barenblatt exposes horrors that test the limits of human imagination ... A timely, important book. (Iris Chang, author of The Rape of Nanking )
An important book, A Plague upon Humanity is as alarming as it is compelling. (James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers and Flyboys )
Daniel Barenblatt s account could not be more timely. A revealing complement to today s WMD debate. (James Fallows, national correspondent, The Atlantic Monthly, and author of Looking at the Sun )
Delivers gripping testimony and long-needed justice to one of the great untold evils of World War II. (Craig Nelson, author of The First Heroes )
Eye-opening. Daniel Barenblatt has written a powerful and disturbing book. (Ross Terrill, author of Mao and The New Chinese Empire ) --Larry Petersen
During World War 2 over 500,000 people died not from the war itself but biogtry and evil. Barenblatt's well researched book takes a glimpse back to a little known chapter in history;Japan's biological warfare development and experimentation on humans in other countries. What's sad about this heinous crime is that those involved in subjecting innocent men, women and children to these inhuman experiments went on to affluent positions in the pharmaceutical industry in Japan, political power and respect from their peers. They were essentially rewarded for the same horrible behavior that the Nazi's were arrested, tried and convicted for--treating captive humans as lab rats. Barenblatt documents the rise of nationalism in Japan and how the social stratification of its society gave rise to Unit 731 where much of this work was carried out. Many of the participants had a sense of superiority that made them believe other humans were somehow no better than animals. The main mover and shaker behind this horror was a doctor named Ishii who came from a privilaged background, married into power and cultivated social relationships to increase his power and climb the social ladder of Japan. His beliefs made him as dark and evil as Hitler and Gobbels. Under Ishii's direction Unit 731 would routinely spray toxins over parts of China, Taiwan and other captured countries. His men would also contaminate food with bacteria and deadly virues and hand them out to people. The worst part of this story was the treatment of children; they were frequently subjected to "innoculations" that consisted of a deadly cargo of bacteria and disease. War always has casualities. But Ishii's victimization of innocent babies, children, woman and men who were guilty of being inferior in his eyes, puts him in the save league as other monsters throughout history. These innocent victims didn't know what was happening and couldn't stand up for themselves. Until now, their voices were lost in the din of history. Barenblatt's book allows them to finally point out the monsters who did this to them. Why weren't these monsters punished? Some of these people were tried and executed in Russia after the war. What did the United States do? Nothing. When MacArthur liberated Japan, he struck a deal with the doctors of Unit 731 that allowed them to go unpunished and resume their respectful careers in society. This is a sad example of how ego, bigotry and ignorence can be rewarded. MacArthur and the United States participated in this horror by covering it up. Barenblatt should be applauded for giving a voice to those who couldn't cry out for themselves and for finally uncovering the identities of the cowards --By Wayne Klein
Like many people, I've heard stories over the years about Japanese experiments on unwilling human captives (called 'maruta' or wooden logs, by the Japanese) during WWII. But I had no idea just how widespread and systematic the abuse really was until I read this book. As Barenblatt ably details it, in addition to the infamous "Unit 731", there were many other Biological Warfare units operated by the Japanese throughout Manchuria and other areas occupied by Japanese forces before and during WWII. In addition to illegally conducting experiments on prisoners, POWs, and others inside these units, the Japanese Biological Warfare technicians also conducted "field tests" of bubonic plague, cholera, anthrax, etc. on unwitting civilians using airplanes, specially-made ceramic bombs, and poisoning of wells and food supplies. Barenblatt uses compelling research to detail all of these atrocities and the men who were behind them, most notably Shiro Ishii. He also details how the U.S. government agreed not to persecute these Japanese "doctors" for war crimes after WWII in order to get the details of their experiments. All in all, this book is an eye-opening but very necessary look at how Biological Warfare can wreak destruction upon unwitting civilians when applied by a war-mongering, power-hungry, fascist government. A powerful history lesson for all of us..... --By Tom
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