Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-45, and the American Cover-Up

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9780415091053: Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932-45, and the American Cover-Up

Professor Harris's book aims to expand our knowledge of a previously hidden and shameful event of World War II. Through access to documents unavailable to earlier researchers, he details the activities of Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army, a formation dedicated to conducting bacterial warfare research in Manchuria. Under the command of Colonel Ishii Shiro, the unit conducted innumerable experiments in the 1930s and 1940s. Many involved the use of living subjects, tests that often cost these subjects their lives. Harris addresses the question of whether some of these subjects were Caucasian prisoners of war, and concludes that there is no irrefutable evidence that that was the case. Certainly the vast majority of subjects were Chinese nationals. Harris also shows how the United States government provided immunity from investigation for men who thereby avoided war crimes trials, so that the US could acquire the results of Japanese expertise in bacteriological warfare.

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About the Author:

Sheldon H. Harris is Professor Emeritus of History at California State University, Northridge. He began his research on Japanese biological experiments in Manchuria in 1984.

From Publishers Weekly:

Harris, professor emeritus of history at California State University, here presents evidence from Chinese, American and KGB archives that Japanese scientists used human beings, including Allied prisoners of war, in biologial warfare (BW) research during the Japanese occupation of Manchuria. The project was carried out in large part by the notorious Army Unit 731 under the direction of Major (later Lieutenant General) Ishii Shiro. Harris, who also maintains that American authorities made a postwar deal whereby Ishii and his staff disclosed their BW data in exchange for immunity from war-crimes prosecution, notes that U.S. intelligence agencies have only selectively released material pertaining to the Japanese BW program. The author inconclusively considers charges made during the 1950-53 Korean War that U.S. forces employed BW agents on the battlefield, possibly with the assistance of Japanese specialists. Scholars will appreciate Harris's assiduous research and analysis, but his dry presentation makes his book of doubtful interest to general readers.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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