***** Terrorism and WMDs: Awareness and Response. By John Pichtel. CRC Press, www.crcpress.com; 456 pages; $79.95.
This book contains a great deal of intermediate-level information on the subject of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). It covers the expected chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) weapons but also includes a relevant and fascinating chapter on directed energy weapons. Much of the data provided is presented in table format making it easy to review, compare, and contrast the characteristics of various elements. It also includes historical and real-world examples that provide context for how the various types of elements were developed and have evolved over time and how they have been implemented.
The work is a little difficult to classify because it is suited for use by many different people but not optimized for anyone. It is useful as a textbook because, in addition to the technical aspects of CBRNE weapons, it provides a great deal of historical perspective, including the development and early uses of CBRNE weapons, and it includes thought-provoking questions at the end of each chapter that make it useful for classroom assignments. It includes excellent tables, photos, and diagrams that are loaded with useful details about the properties, capabilities, sources, and effects of various materials that would make it useful as a field guide, but it is not necessarily organized to quickly find the relevant information in an emergency situation.
For first responders the book covers important topics, including incident management, protective equipment, decontamination, and remediation. The book is presented in a way that a person can read through it or skip around to specific topics of interest fairly easily, and there are plenty of references provided if the reader wants to delve deeper into any of the subjects.
Reviewer: Coleman Wolf, CPP, CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional), is an associate at ESD, Inc., a leading engineering and consulting firm located in Chicago. He has 20 years of experience as a security professional, and is a member of the ASIS Information Technology Security Council.