Tear Gas: From the Battlefield of WWI to the Streets of Today
by Anna Feigenbaum
Once a tool of war, now a globally shared policing strategy, tear gas stands as a striking symbol of our times. Over the past 100 years tear gas has been deployed to lure soldiers from hiding, to disperse demonstrations, halt robberies, quell riots, frighten protesters and confront hostage situations. Through these myriad uses, tear gas has grown into a global industry, serving as one of the major defence exports to international conflict zones. Nearly every day journalists file news stories of tear gas deployment, as images of smoke filled streets circulate so regularly they come to feel like stock photography. And while this gas goes off around the world, its health effects remain undetermined, its death toll ill-defined and its legality, a recurring question.
Offering the first critical account focused specifically on the rise and spread of tear gas technologies, Tear Gas: the making of a peaceful poison follows the development, marketing, testing and trade of tear gases as ‘agents’ of pacification. From the assembly floors of the United Nations to the annals of the American Medical Association, Tear Gas tracks key controversies and cover-ups surrounding tear gas development and deployment. Written for a broad audience and told through a chronological series of stories around key figures and events, the book takes readers from Europe’s World War I trenches to Pennsylvania’s Federal Laboratories; from the streets of Irish Resistance in Derry to the Occupied Territories of Palestine. Through these stories Tear Gas provides the first in-depth look at the processes and networks that have come to create these pacifying poisons.
Tear Gas: From the Battlefield of WWI to the Streets of Today is forthcoming with Verso in 2017
For more on tear gas see In the Media