Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War
Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War
Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War
Type: eBook
Released: 2009
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Page Count: 400
Format: pdf
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0195333055
ISBN-13: 9780195333053
User Rating: 4.6667 out of 5 Stars! (3 Votes)

From Publishers Weekly

Few people think of flies, scorpions or potato bugs as weapons of war, but entomologist Lockwood (Grasshopper Dreaming), winner of a Pushcart Prize and a James Burroughs Award, details in this fascinating study how creepy crawlies have been used against the enemy since antiquity. The Romans' siege of a desert fortress ended abruptly when buckets of scorpions were dumped on their heads. Many a medieval army catapulted beehives or hornets' nests over a castle's ramparts to drive out the defenders. The Vietcong used a version of this trick, setting off small explosives near huge beehives when American soldiers walked by. Lockwood tells how the Japanese used Chinese civilians as human guinea pigs in their program to weaponize plague and other diseases. And Lockwood explores charges by the North Koreans and Fidel Castro that America has called out insect troops on occasion as well. Fortunately, as the author points out, insects aren't very cooperative soldiers, and using them to deliver diseases is much easier said than done. Both science and military history buffs will learn much from Lockwood, a self-described skeptic with a sense of humor. 49 b&w illus. (Oct.) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Insects have been recruited for war since biblical times and are currently scientifically bred for the nefarious purpose of spreading disease, according to Lockwood. Prior to the control exerted by medical doctors and entomologists, disease galloped well enough on its own, which Lockwood illustrates in accounts of armies felled by epidemics, such as several French forces of the Napoleonic period. In the twentieth century, most industrial nations have conducted research on the suitability of insects as deliberately deployed vectors of disease, with Lockwood going into extensive detail on biological weapons notoriously used by Japan in World War II. He is also animated by the proposition that some nations—particularly the U.S.—dropped infected bugs on China or Cuba while acknowledging the cold war propaganda temptation the Communist regimes of those countries had in claiming so. Concluding with the vulnerability of American agriculture to an insect-borne attack by terrorists, Lockwood offers a scientific history that leaves readers better informed, albeit with a severe case of the creepy-crawlies. --Gilbert Taylor

Download free Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War - Jeffrey A. Lockwood
Michael J. Tresca | 4 out of 5 Stars!

The tiniest WMD


Six-Legged Soldiers is an interesting look at how bugs have been drafted crawlies we loathe, like spiders, wasps, and scorpions. But according to Lockwood, the real threat isn't just from the direct harm an insect can inflict secret experimental program conducted during World War II and America's subsequent dark dealings with the scientists from that same program. Do we have knowledge of bio-weapons capable of spreading plague vectors? Lockwood seems to think so. The real controversy is: have we used them?

The second third of the book discusses this at length, as well as other governments' possible use of insects in modern warfare. The problem is that the evidence is nigh impossible to prove. The very nature of insect warfare, a vector that spreads at its own pace and on its own terms, is its greatest strength and weakness. Modern militaries supposedly reject using insects because they're unpredictable; countries attacked devouring beetles, and crop-destroying aphids. Eminently transportable, easily unleashed, and capable of inflicting immense damage with comparatively little effort, Lockwood emphasizes that the next Weapon of Mass Destruction is actually very tiny indeed.

There's a lot of meaty content here, but it's at times overshadowed Legged Soldiers also lacks focus. It's alternately a historical review of insect warfare, a conspiracy theory on government cover-ups, and a modern drama about terrorism. If you're a fan of all three topics like I am, this book is a compelling review of insects as weapons.

John Kwok | 5 out of 5 Stars!

Riveting, Quite Exceptional, Look at Humanity's Usage of Insects as Weapons of War


Replete with all the suspense and intrigue found in the best spy novels of Ian Fleming and John Le Carre, Jeffrey A. Lockwood's "Six - Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War" is not just a gripping, exceptional account of humanity's usage of insects as military and economic weapons of war from antiquity to the present. It is quite possibly, the definitive exploration of this very subject, and one that deserves as wide a readership as possible, for rather obvious reasons. Trained as a biologist with substantial expertise in ecology and epidemiology, Lockwood combines these gifts, along with a sound understanding of history and his exceptional writing, in weaving together a most beguiling narrative that reads more like a Cold War spy thriller than a superb piece of nonfiction. In this rather timely book, Lockwood makes a most compelling case explaining how and why insect usage in warfare has often changed the course of not only battles, but indeed, entire campaigns, citing as notable examples, the Mongol conquest of much of Eurasia, and more recently, Napoleon's disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812, the American Civil War and the Western Front during World War I.

Among the most compelling chapters in Lockwood's book are those devoted to the infamous Japanese general Ishii Shiro and his Unit 731, based in Japanese-occupied Manchuria (Northeastern China) during World War II, and responsible for countless crimes against humanity against both Chinese civilians and military prisoners of war. In painstakingly graphic, often gory, detail, Lockwood traces Ishii's "path to infamy", demonstrating how this idealistic Japanese army doctor - who had shown early promise as an important epidemiological researcher on diseases - used his connections in the upper echelons of both Japanese military and civilian elites in creating a vast military-industrial complex in Manchuria devoted to biological warfare. A "path to infamy", which led ironically to Ishii's salvation at the close of World War II, sparing him the hangman's noose for his heinous war crimes, after his extensive interrogation esque tales. I found especially fascinating allegations of economic entomological warfare practiced Legged Soldiers", chronicling potential usage of insects in war, ranging from using them as disease vectors to causing substantial disruptions in agricultural economies from pest infestations of crops. His nightmarish scenarios are those well worth pondering by anyone interested in ensuring ample defense from biological terrorist attacks upon the United States.

Zekeriyah | 5 out of 5 Stars!

Swams, Stings and Robot Insects


Now this is good stuff right here. Sure, we've all heard about how the ancients used to launch jars filled with scorpions or how the Plains Indians would torture enemies Shah, the Emir of Bukhara in Central Asia, who used assassin bugs and sheep ticks to torture his enemies. Lockwood is very attentive to the role that plagues, disease and poisons from insects have played in military history as well.

He continues on, however, into more recent historical applications of insects in warfare, going through the various attempts fetched? Lockwood cites not only how easy it would be to reintroduce the exterminated screw worm to the United States, but also points out that domestic terrorists extorted the government in the late '80s by threatening to release the medfly into California. Insect pests cause billions of dollars of damage each year, and as the author notes, terrorist groups might very well consider destructive scenarios that conventional governments and militaries would never engage in in. Equally fascinating (and scary), he also takes a look at government experiments into controlling insects through cybernetics, and the potential ramifications of such practices. Cutting edge stuff that!

The entire book is absolutely fascinating, and completely understandable from the civilian and/or layperson end of things. At the same time, he is very careful to use proper Latin names for all of the medically significant insects (and occasionally, arachnids) mentioned in this book. Lockwood writes on a very captivating subject; I was so into this book that I think I read through it in only a few hours. Whether you are into entomology or military history, this book will be right up your alley. But what really wins him points is that Lockwood not only wrote a fascinating book, but also has a recommended reading list at the end, citing articles and books that will keep you up to date on much of the material that he writes about.

If you liked this book, I would also recommend checking out Adrienne Mayor's 'Greek Fire, Scorpion Bombs and Poison Arrows,' which Lockwood mentions in his recommended reading list. It's an equally fascinating book covering biological warfare in the classical world. Both books are going to appeal to the same audience, so if you like one, you'll like the other.

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