A Higher Form of Killing

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The book "A Higher Form of Killing - The Secret Story of Chemical and Biological Warfare" (1982, Hill & Wang, ASIN: 0809015072), written by Robert Harris and Jeremy Paxman is mentioned in "The Real Frank Zappa Book" (1989), under the header "Poison Gas Again".

"A Higher Form of Killing" is one of the very small number of written accounts available to the public on the subject of chemical and biological warfare. Drawing extensively on American, British, European, and (where possible) Russian sources - most of them previously classified or unavailable - "A Higher Form of Killing" tells the secret history of chemical and germ warfare.

FZ refers to page 240 of the book, on which an excerpt from an Army manual is included, discussing the feasability of manufacturing and deploying "ethnic chemical weapons" (designed to kill people from specific ethnic backgrounds). On page 241, there is an extract from a 1969 Senate appropriations hearing, with testimony (speaker unidentified) regarding the development of a new class of biological weapons which would be "refractory" to the human immunological system.

FZ in TRFZB: "Whose testimony was this? Was he asking for money to build a few of these diseases? What senators heard this testimony? Are they still in office? Did they appropriate any funds? If so, who got them? What did they eventually spend them on? The book doesn't say, but presumably some answers might be found in The Congressional Record."

Now eclipsed by nuclear weapons, germ weapons have been outlawed by the 1972 Biological Warfare Convention, and, even before that, in 1969, such biological and toxin weapons were unilaterally and unconditionally renounced by the United States. But poison gas weapons have not been outlawed.

  • In World War I, poison gas killed or maimed one and a half million men in the mud of Flanders.
  • The Japanese used mustard gas and biological weapons in the '30s.
  • The Nazis' discovered nerve gas in 1937.
  • Hitler, who used gas to kill millions in concentration camps, built a huge arsenal of chemical weapons that and several times came close to using in battle.
  • Churchill planned to use gas in l940.
  • In Great Britain in the '40s, horrifying secret experiments with anthrax were done (two million cattle cakes were stored, impregnated with anthrax for dropping on Germany).
  • The development of the plague bacillus, and futuristic attempts to tinker with the genetic code.
  • The United States made millions of biological bombs and debated plans to "drench" German cities with germs; anti-crop agents were used against Germany and Japan, causing widespread starvation.
  • The United States used tons of chemical defoliants in Vietnam (there is strong evidence that that has been widely debated).
  • The Russians used chemical warfare in Laos, Afghanistan, and Eritrea.

With essentially no Congressional or public analysis of the real military and political issues, the United States embarked on a multibillion-dollar program to produce a new generation of nerve gas artillery, shells, bombs, rockets, and missile warheads, generating much controversy among NATO allies.

President Reagan stands at the brink of a reckless decision to break a 12-year moratorium and produce a new poison gas weapon. He does not need it or the trouble it will bring. The Pentagon wants a new nerve gas primarily for European defense. That could ignite another row with the allies, who have not been seriously consulted and do not want the gas on their soil. It could trigger a new chemical weapons competition with Moscow, ending what hope remains for the long-pending treaty to ban such weapons. It could lead to even more repugnant chemical weaponry. And it could spread the industry until many nations and even terrorists gain access to poison gas, now stocked only by the two superpowers and France. - The New York Times, January 21, 1982

For the interested person, similar books are "Chemical And Biological Warfare - America's Hidden Arsenal" (Seymour M. Hersh, 1968, Bobbs-Merrill), "The Killing Winds - The Menace Of Biological Warfare" (Jeanne McDermott, 1987, Arbor House, ASIN: 0877958963),"Clouds Of Secrecy - The Army's Germ Warfare Tests over Populated Areas" (Leonard A. Cole, 1988, Rowman & Littlefield, ISBN 0847675793), "The Eleventh Plague - The Politics of Biological and Chemical Warfare" (Leonard A. Cole, 1996, W.H. Freeman, ISBN 0716733013), and "Canaries on the Rim - Living Downwind in the West" (Chip Ward, 2000, Verso Books, ISBN 1859847501).

"A Higher Form of Killing" (1989, Restless) is also the name of an album, a rip-roaring 80's Thrash extravaganza, by the heavy metal band Intruder. "(A Higher Form of) Killing" is also a track on the album "Desensitized" (1993, Earache) by the band Pitchshifter, sort of alternative techno-metal meets punk-rock.

Zappa about the book

"Ok, let me tell you what I'm talking about. Hrm … there … are … aw … well, there's one book in particular called "A Higher Form of Killing" (Random House Trade Paperbacks (August 6, 2002), ISBN-10: 0812966538, ISBN-13: 978-0812966534. Ed.)" and … ah … in the back of the book there is an extract from the Congressional record, circa 1967, I believe, where somebody is standing in front of a Senate appropriations committee, asking for money to construct a virus, which would be, quote, quote "refractive to the human immunological system", and, what is not included in this book, is … are the names of any of the Congress men or Senators who are members of that committee, whether or not they gave the guy the money he was asking for, and information about what company got this money. And whether or not any o' those people are still in the Congress, and … ah … I … I don't have … aw… the ability to do that kind of research, but since the original information came from the Congressional record, maybe somebody out there with a research frame of mind would like to look into that, then it certainly would be a trail we're following." - Frank Zappa in Ode To Gravity - Frank Zappa: World Affairs Commentator, interview by Charles Amirkhanian, 15 April 1993.