• Hellfire Boys

  • The Birth of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service and the Race for the World's Deadliest Weapons
  • By: Theo Emery
  • Narrated by: Allan Robertson
  • Length: 15 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Release date: 11-14-17
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio
  • 5.0 (2 ratings)

Regular price: $29.65

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Publisher's Summary

An explosive look into the dawn of chemical warfare during World War I

"A terrifying piece of history that almost no one knows." (Hampton Sides, New York Times best-selling author of In the Kingdom of Iceand Blood and Thunder)

In 1915, when German forces executed the first successful gas attack of World War I, the world watched in horror as the boundaries of warfare were forever changed. Cries of barbarianism rang throughout Europe, yet Allied nations immediately jumped into the fray, kickstarting an arms race that would redefine a war already steeped in unimaginable horror.

Largely forgotten in the confines of history, the development of the US Chemical Warfare Service in 1917 left an indelible imprint on World War I. This small yet powerful division, along with the burgeoning Bureau of Mines, assembled research and military unites devoted solely to chemical weaponry, outfitting regiments with hastily made gas-resistant uniforms and recruiting scientists and engineers from around the world into the fight.

As the threat of new gases and more destructive chemicals grew stronger, the chemists' secret work in the laboratories transformed into an explosive fusion of steel, science, and gas on the battlefield. Drawing from years of research, Theo Emery brilliantly shows how World War I quickly spiraled into a chemists' war, one led by the companies of young American engineers-turned-soldiers who would soon become known as the "Hellfire Boys". As gas attacks began to mark the heaviest and most devastating battles, these brave and brilliant men were on the front lines, racing against the clock - and the Germans - to protect, develop, and unleash the latest weapons of mass destruction.

©2017 Theo Emery (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"Journalist Emery offers a useful and absorbing reminder that, a century earlier, it was a different weapon of mass destruction that terrified both soldiers and civilians.... This is a timely and often unsettling examination of a previously well-hidden government program." (Booklist)
"A fascinating and deeply researched account of how America reinvented its military - and itself - in its first modern global war. Theo Emery combines science, history, and character-driven drama to illuminate some of the darkest aspects of our national past." (Beverly Gage, author of The Day Wall Street Exploded and professor of History and American Studies at Yale University)
"Even military buffs will learn from this intensely researched, often unnerving account.... Readers will share Emery's lack of nostalgia for this half-forgotten weapon, but they will admire this satisfying combination of technical background, battlefield fireworks, biographies of colorful major figures, and personal anecdotes from individual soldiers." (Kirkus)

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  • 01-15-18

Very good historical review.

Normally do not read/listen to war time history. However, after listening to the author talk about the book, purchased the audiobook. Hellfire Boys was extensively researched and revealed many angles to the story of chemical warfare. The audiobook was extremely artfully worded, logically organized and well-narrated. Especially those interested in world war 1, military history, chemical warfare origin or history buffs in general will greatly enjoy this book.