A Strange and Formidable Weapon: British Responses to World War I Poison Gas

A Strange and Formidable Weapon: British Responses to World War I Poison Gas

by Marion Leslie Girard
     
 

The advent of poison gas in World War I shocked Britons at all levels of society, yet by the end of the conflict their nation was a leader in chemical warfare. Although never used on the home front, poison gas affected almost every segment of British society physically, mentally, or emotionally, proving to be an armament of total war. Through cartoons, military… See more details below

Overview

The advent of poison gas in World War I shocked Britons at all levels of society, yet by the end of the conflict their nation was a leader in chemical warfare. Although never used on the home front, poison gas affected almost every segment of British society physically, mentally, or emotionally, proving to be an armament of total war. Through cartoons, military records, novels, treaties, and other sources, Marion Girard examines the varied ways different sectors of British society viewed chemical warfare, from the industrialists who promoted their toxic weapons while maintaining private control of production, to the politicians who used gas while balancing the need for victory with the risk of developing a reputation for barbarity. Although most Britons considered gas a vile weapon and a symptom of the enemy’s inhumanity, many eventually condoned its use. The public debates about the future of gas extended to the interwar years, and evidence reveals that the taboo against poison gas was far from inevitable. A Strange and Formidable Weapon uncovers the complicated history of this weapon of total war and illustrates the widening involvement of society in warfare.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803222236
Publisher:
University of Nebraska Press
Publication date:
06/01/2008
Series:
Studies in War, Society, and the Military Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
294
Sales rank:
1,114,444
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction

1 The Political Challenge: Descent to Atrocities? 26

2 The Army's Experience: New Weapons, New Soldiers 51

3 The Scientific Divide: Chemists versus Physicians 102

4 Whose Business Is It?: Dilemmas in the Gas Industry 102

5 Gas as a Symbol: Visual Images of Chemical Weapons in the Popular Press 126

6 The Reestablishment of the Gas Taboo and the Public Debate: Will Gas Destroy the World? 157

Epilogue 191

Abbreviations 200

Notes 201

Bibliography 251

Index 263

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