Dew of Death: The Story of Lewisite, America's World War I Weapon of Mass Destruction (Hardback)Joel A. Vilensky (author)
Hardback Published: 07/09/2005
- Not available
In 1919, when the Great War was over, the "New York Times" reported on a new chemical weapon with 'the fragrance of geranium blossoms,' a poison gas that was 'the climax of this country's achievements in the lethal arts.' The name of this substance was lewisite and this is its story - the story of an American weapon of mass destruction. Discovered by accident by a graduate student and priest in a chemistry laboratory at American University, lewisite was developed into a weapon by Winford Lewis, who became its namesake. After a powerful German counterattack in the spring of 1918, the government began frantic production of lewisite in hopes of delivering 3,000 tons of the stuff to be ready for use in Europe the following year. The end of war came just as the first shipment was being prepared. It was dumped into the sea, but not forgotten.Joel A. Vilensky tells the intriguing story of the discovery and development of this weapon and its curious history. During World War II, the United States produced more than 20,000 tons of lewisite, testing it on soldiers and secretly dropping it from airplanes. In the end, the substance was abandoned as a weapon because it was too unstable under most combat conditions. But a weapon once discovered never disappears. It was used by Japan in Manchuria and by Iraq in its war with Iran. The Soviet Union was once a major manufacturer.Strangely enough, although it was developed for lethal purposes, lewisite led to an effective treatment for a rare neurological disease. Joel A. Vilensky is Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Indiana University School of Medicine. He has taught Medical Gross Anatomy at its Fort Wayne campus for the past twenty-three years. Dr. Vilensky was born in New York City, received his B.S. from Michigan State University in 1972, his M.A. from the University of Chicago in 1974, and his doctoral degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1979. His interest in the history of lewisite stems from research on the history of the first successful treatment of Wilson's Disease, which used British Anti-lewisite.
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Weight: 508 g
Dimensions: 236 x 163 x 24 mm
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