In 1997, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) coordinated the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction . As of mid-2005, 145 states had signed the agreement. The ICBL’s efforts were in large part a response to the careless use of landmines in the previous fifty years. The history of mine use in warfare, however, goes back much further than the World Wars of the 20th century and includes both land and sea use. This first comprehensive study traces the technical, tactical, and ethical developments of mine warfare, from ancient times to the present.
Beginning with mine warfare’s roots in ancient Assyria and China, Youngblood takes the reader through the centuries of debate about how these hidden weapons should be used. A look at 19th-century developments explores the intertwined development of land and sea mines and the inventors behind them, including Robert Fulton, Samuel Colt, and Immanuel Nobel, father of Alfred Nobel. Subsequent chapters examine the use of mines in the American Civil War, the Russo-Japanese War, both World Wars, and the battlefields of the Cold War, and chart key battles and technical innovations, such as the development of air-delivered munitions. Finally, the author addresses the ethical concerns raised by the careless mining, namely the impact on civilians and the difficulties of de-mining, and the treaties that regulate landmine use.