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Publisher's Summary

This is a riveting and disturbing account of the medical atrocities performed in China during WWII.

Some of the cruelest deeds of Japan's war in Asia did not occur on the battlefield, but in quiet, antiseptic medical wards in obscure parts of China. Far from front lines and prying eyes, Japanese doctors and their assistants subjected human guinea pigs to gruesome medical experiments in the name of science and Japan's wartime chemical and biological warfare research. 

Author Hal Gold draws upon a wealth of sources to construct a portrait of the Imperial Japanese Army's most notorious medical unit, giving an overview of its history and detailing its most shocking activities. The book presents the words of former unit members themselves, taken from remarks they made at a traveling Unit 731 exhibition held in Japan in 1994-95. They recount vivid first-hand memories of what it was like to take part in horrific experiments on men, women, and children, their motivations and reasons why they chose to speak about their actions all these years later. 

By showing how the ethics of normal men and women, and even an entire profession, can be warped by the fire of war, this important book offers a window on a time of human madness and the hope that history will not be repeated.

©2019 Hal Gold (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about Japan's Infamous Unit 731

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  • Xyo
  • 2021-11-13

Horrifying

A well documented and researched account of one of Humanity's worst atrocities. There isn't really any other way to describe Unit 731 than what it was - horrifying.

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  • Jack D Kendall
  • 2021-07-30

Quite shocking to the uninformed.

For quite a few years I've been reading military history but somehow I'd never heard of Unit 731. While I did know the Japanese did human experimentation I didn't know to the extent it happened. This book contains rather shocking and gruesome details. While the information was good, I felt it was disorganized. The book reads (at least in audio) more as a compilation of papers rather than a well organized volume. It's kind of dry. The narrator was ok, but not fantastic.

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  • Pat Newell
  • 2021-07-20

Confused presentation

I happened to read Wikipedia’s summery of this book, and kept thinking “where was this in the book?” It had the info in there, obviously, but somehow it was presented in such a way as to slip past me. And I have read thousands of books over a lifetime of always having one I was reading. It mite have worked better if I was reading, not listening.

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  • C. G. Telcontar
  • 2021-07-05

A poor effort.

I don't know what Hal Gold's credentials might be, but I can assure you he's not a professional historian and likely not even a journalist. Perhaps he has a knowledge or mastery of the Japanese language to help him along, because he does seem to at least have a grip on the outward structure and personnel of the Unit. This is entirely unbalanced by the sketchy approach to the Unit's operations, their locations in China, the nominal postwar activities and speculative matter that has no anchor whatsoever (he goes all the way into Ancient Aliens territory with the supposition that Unit 731 could have developed the AIDS virus; this is preposterous and mercifully he only devotes about two sentences to the idea). The book is further weakened by its division into two sections; a history of the Unit and then Unit personnel giving oral testimony after the war as to their personal activities. It's bad, bordering on banal to awful at many points and if I had bought this at full price I'd be screaming mad. 70% off list makes it a bearably bad experience. As an intro to Unit 731 I give it 2 stars, otherwise it would be solid 1 star material.

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  • Chris
  • 2021-06-08

A very dark history

This book left me in such shock about how much history was hidden from me growing up in high school and college