• Toxic

  • A History of Nerve Agents, from Nazi Germany to Putin's Russia
  • By: Dan Kaszeta
  • Narrated by: Paul Heitsch
  • Length: 11 hrs and 53 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (35 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Nerve agents are the world's deadliest means of chemical warfare. Nazi Germany developed the first military-grade nerve agents and massive industry for their manufacture - yet, strangely, the Third Reich never used them. At the end of the Second World War, the Allies were stunned to discover this advanced and extensive program. The Soviets and Western powers embarked on a new arms race, amassing huge chemical arsenals.

From their Nazi invention to the 2018 Novichok attack in Britain, Dan Kaszeta uncovers nerve agents' gradual spread across the world, despite international arms control efforts. They've been deployed in the Iran-Iraq War, by terrorists in Japan, in the Syrian Civil War, and by assassins in Malaysia and Salisbury - always with bitter consequences.

Toxic recounts the grisly history of these weapons of mass destruction: a deadly suite of invisible, odorless killers.

©2020 Dan Kaszeta (P)2021 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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Solid primer on nerve agent history and technology

The author does a good job of giving an overview of nerve agents, including technical challenges, practical limitations, and political issues. I recommend that listeners start with Appendix A first, then move into Chapter 1. I had a lot of technical questions while listening that were ultimately answered by that appendix.

I liked that the author addressed conspiratorial thinking around nerve agents head on, which gives a non-expert listener a solid feel for the information warfare occuring in conjunction with these matters.

The narrator was good overall, albeit a little slow and robotic at times. I listened at 1.3x and it held my attention. The narrator didn't have any idiosyncrasies or mouth noises that sometimes can be distracting, which was nice.

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Very interesting!!

Whew! This book is packed with information. I’m glad I read it. The author provides a historical string that ties events together that I didn’t know were related. The scientific background of nerve agents and the neutralization of nerve agents is completely new to me. Part of me wishes the topic wasn’t relevant, but the other part of me knows it is relevant to all of us. Keep reading. It will pay off. The appendix is helpful, so stick around for that.

1 person found this helpful

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Phenomenal. Informative and Addictive!

From the very early pages of this incredible history, the reader is drawn into the unbelievably true story detailing the development and proliferation of nerve agents in military weapons programs. From the early days in Nazi factories to the cold war arms race to terrorists groups and the surprisingly dark horse nations, this story takes you down a path that is so incredible it is hard to believe it is nonfiction. The people, place, dates, motivations… it’s all here. As I near the end of my own professional military career, in which I’ve donned chemical protective gear more times than I care to count (both training and in theater), I wish I had read this book years ago! It gives a perspective and relevancy that I had been missing until now!!

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Quintessential history of nerve agents without par

Dan has written a masterwork on the history and employment of chemical weapons. This man made something as boring as organic chemistry extremely interesting. Great Job Dan.

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Very important for this day & age.

In today's current climate of tensions and conflicts, this is an important lesson on the state of CW arsenals and how they are used.

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  • Tom
  • 04-16-21

Interesting, comprehensive and well paced

I was eagerly awaiting the appearance of this book on audible and it was well worth the wait.

Kaszeta travels at pace though the technical and historical aspects of nerve agents without getting bogged down and without drying out the topic - this translates well to audible. Feel free to gloss over the “proper” chemical names at first as the various code names and nicknames are far easier to remember.

Narration is great and never gets in the way of the material - two thumbs up. Shame I’ve finished it!

1 person found this helpful