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U. S. Chemical and Biological Defense Respirators
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An illustrated developmental history of the American military chemical and biological protective respirator for use against war agents, this work provides photographs of actual respirator specimens and several useful appendices, in addition to its engaging chapters. A perfect coffee table book to thoroughly confuse and depress your unwanted drop-in proletarian visitors (perhaps even send them screaming from your doorstep in esoteric overload mode), or an excellent historical reference on a very arcane subject. You choose. Selection of this book for inclusion on your reference shelf marks you as one of those rare thinkers who shuns MENSA membership, feeling that no one is capable of fully appreciating their elevated thought processes.
US CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL RESPIRATORS: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY
US Chemical and Biological Defense Respirators: An Illustrated History by Christopher T. Carey (a pseudonym of the writer, Kalikiano Kalei), is a condensed historical overview of American technical developments in military and civilian protective respirator design from the earliest 'modern' introduction of CBW war agents in the First World War, through the period ending in 1999. Divided into 13 chapters and featuring over 600 color and b&w illustrations, the book also contains very useful bibliographies and appendices pertaining to all aspects of 'chemical warfare' defense.
This book, published by Schiffer Publishing Incorporated, as one of their excellent military history series, is the only book of its kind in the world that focuses exclusively on American innovations in 'gas mask' technology. It serves as an excellent reference for a wide range of users, including historians, NBC defense specialists, militaria collectors, and the casually interested private individual. With over 240 pages, bound in a formal hard-cover format, with clear, excellent photographic plates and much contextual information, the book is available from any book seller, including internet dealers such as Amazon Books and Barnes & Noble. Priced at $45 per copy, it is usually available at a discount from volume dealers and is well worth the cost. (ISBN 0-7643-0387-2)
Although the 1991 Gulf War is only indirectly alluded to in the book, it is worth noting that the author was in Riyadh throughout this period, working in association with Saudi Arabian National Guard medical projects (SANG-KFNGH). Due to the feared use of Iraq's known arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, this was a most interesting locale to be in at the time, with much of the world's defensive NBC expertise clustered anxiously in the area.
An amusing sidelight: the author took, in addition to his personal NBC respirator, a genuine M-1916 German stahlhelm (known by the AEF troops as the 'coal scuttle' helmet) to help protect against unanticipated debris fallout from SCUD and Al Abbas missile explosions in the skies over Riyadh. Although the explosions that did result in scattered debris were not usually from US Patriot missile intercepts (as the Raytheon Corporation would have had us believe), the detritus that did fall would not have been warded off by this ancient old tin-pot. Still, it was amusing to wear it during SCUD alerts, mindful of the fact that this was the only genuine WWI helmet ever to have served in two wars, some 74 years apart from each other!
With the Gulf War scare now well behind us, the fear of use of chemical and biological weapons by established national military forces has fallen off considerably and been replaced by concerns over use of these war agents by amorphous, independent political action and terrorist groups. These fears are, of course, considerably justified in view of the Aum Shinrikyo attack on the Tokyo subways in the Spring of 1996 and the expanded awareness of how these weapons might indeed well be used by small, hard-to-track groups of partisan political (or even pseudo-religious, as was the Aum Shinrikyo sect) activists that resulted. Unfortunately, technology is inherently expensive and there are not many new protective respirator designs in development now as there formerly were; however, to rephrase Santayana’s aphorism, unless we understand the past, we are considerably disadvantaged when it comes to avoiding past mistakes.
The present and ongoing worldwide Islamic terrorist movement offers a new opportunity to anticipate and defend against the threat of biological agents in particular, since development and use of those agents is an option virtually anyone may employ rather simply, with a minimum of apparatus and/or sophisticated laboratory equipment.
Regrettably, human memory is invariably short-lived and this is nowhere better demonstrated than with regard to NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) weapons, for once an immediate NBC threat has been resolved, all awareness of the terrible potential NBC agents pose for creating havoc quickly falls away from public consciousness.
US Chemical and Biological Defense Respirators attempts to keep awareness of the NBC threat ongoing and helps provide some of the needed retrospective understanding as it pertains to the history of individual NBC respiratory defense developments in the United States.
"According to a mean-spirited (possibly apocryphal) AEF joke, the first modern use of chemical war agents occurred in mid-1914 when unusually strong winds swept fetid air from the German trenches directly towards the French lines, after the Kaiser's field kitchens had just finished serving a particularly spicy ration of Bayerische Weisswurst mit Bohne."