Greek fire, poison arrows, and scorpion bombs: biological and chemical warfare in the ancient world

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Overlook Duckworth, 2003 - History - 319 pages
21 Reviews
Flamethrowers, poison gases, incendiary bombs, the largescale spreading of disease ... are these terrifying agents and implements of warfare modern inventions? Not by a long shot. Weapons of biological and chemical warfare have been in use for thousands of years, and Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs, Adrienne Mayor's revealing exploration of the origins of controversial weaponry, draws extraordinary connections between the mythical worlds of Hercules and the Trojan War, the accounts of Herodotus and Thucydides, and modern methods of war and terrorism. This is the first book to trace biological and chemical warfare to its ancient roots and Mayor's thought-provoking findings are as riveting in their gruesomeness as they are surprising in their historical precedence. Drawing on sources ancient and modern, Mayor, an expert in classics and the history of science, describes ancient recipes for arrow poisons, booby traps rigged with plague, petroleum-based combustibles, choking gases, and the deployment of dangerous animals and venomous snakes and insects. She also explores the ambiguous moral implications inherent in this kind of warfare: are these nefarious forms of weaponry ingenious or cowardly? Admirable or reprehensible? Timely and fascinating, Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs is an eminently readable page-turner that will catapult readers into the dark and fascinating realm of ancient war and mythic treachery -- and their devastating consequences. Book jacket.

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Review: Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World

User Review  - Yune - Goodreads

The title snagged me at "scorpion bombs"; the preface to the edition I read (2009) not only provides updates in research but also the reaction to a historical war strategy game: In 2003, the wildly ... Read full review

Review: Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World

User Review  - Dana Stabenow - Goodreads

What, you thought napalm was a new thing? This book will disabuse your mind of that notion pronto. According to Mayor, mankind has been thinking up new and more horrible ways to spread terror and kill ... Read full review


War Outside the Rules
The Invention of Biological Weapons

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About the author (2003)

Adrienne Mayor is the author of "Greek Fire, Poison Arrows, and Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World" (Overlook) and "The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times" (Princeton). She is a research scholar in classics and history of science at Stanford University.

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