By Marion Leslie Girard

The appearance of poison gasoline in international struggle I surprised Britons in any respect degrees of society, but by means of the top of the clash their country was once a pace-setter in chemical war. even if by no means used at the domestic entrance, poison gasoline affected nearly each phase of British society bodily, mentally, or emotionally, proving to be an armament of overall struggle. via cartoons, army files, novels, treaties, and different resources, Marion Girard examines the various methods various sectors of British society considered chemical conflict, from the industrialists who promoted their poisonous guns whereas holding deepest regulate of production, to the politicians who used gasoline whereas balancing the necessity for victory with the chance of constructing a name for barbarity. even supposing such a lot Britons thought of fuel a vile weapon and a symptom of the enemy’s inhumanity, many ultimately condoned its use. The public debates concerning the way forward for gasoline prolonged to the interwar years, and proof finds that the taboo opposed to poison fuel was once faraway from inevitable. an odd and ambitious Weapon uncovers the complex background of this weapon of overall conflict and illustrates the widening involvement of society in war. (20090401)

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Extra resources for A Strange and Formidable Weapon: British Responses to World War I Poison Gas (Studies in War, Society, and the Militar)

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Some gases, such as chlorine, are intentionally lethal. A second way to categorize gases is by persistency, or how long they retain their effectiveness. indd 18 2/29/2008 9:31:17 AM Introduction |  gases is by their effect, or how they damage a person or property. 54 Phosgene produced heart attacks, mustard gas led to blistering sores, and chlorine caused suffocation. These gases could be used alone or in conjunction with one another, producing multiple effects, as with those called German Blue and Green Cross.

11 Britain managed to use these accounts of her military difficulties with gas as a tool with which to enhance her image as a belligerent on the “good” side of the war in her own propaganda and in America. Perhaps more important, with her policies, Britain appeared to be a reluctant gas warrior when, in reality, she was simply a cautious one. Once the British decided to engage in the gas war offensively, they worked hard to keep up, and thus not give Germany too great an advantage, without taking the lead in escalating the gas war.

Long before the germ theory of disease appeared, the miasmatic theory dominated the medical scene. In this philosophy, bad air caused disease; for example, it was believed that swamp breezes, not the mosquitoes that lived in marshes, led to malaria. 79 Thus, the idea that air could be deadly was not new, and the dangers of poison gas were easy to comprehend and fit into an existing framework of threats to human life. Poison, too, was familiar. 80 Poison had a dual nature, though; for instance, arsenic could be used to kill rodents and other pests legitimately or to murder people underhandedly.

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