"Hellfire Boys" author to speak at Bookstore

MANCHESTER — Vermont native and journalist Theo Emery will return to the Green Mountains on Saturday, January 13 to present his debut book, Hellfire Boys, at the Northshire Bookstore.

Hellfire Boys dives into the unknown history of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service and chemical warfare during World War I. Through several characters (soldiers, scientists, and agents), Emery shares the hard truth about chemical weapons and their consequences.

"I'm not an expert in chemical warfare, and I'm not a military historian," Emery said when asked about what inspired him to write this book. In 2012, when Emery reported for the New York Times in D.C., he came across the American University Experiment Station — the center for chemical warfare research during WWI.

Intrigued by the history, Emery wanted to learn more about the soldiers and scientists who were involved.

"It's a fascinating story that needed to be told, and I wanted to the be the one to tell it," he said.

Emery classifies Hellfire Boys as a narrative history. He spent weeks researching at the National Archives Records Administration in D.C. in addition to college campuses and research institutions. Emery also contacted descendants of soldiers and scientists who provided him with letters and journals of their ancestors. These primary sources served as a "gold mine of information" throughout the writing process.

Emery hopes that anyone with interest in 20th century American history will enjoy this read. He describes reading Hellfire Boys as reading a novel, because the characters guide one through the story.

From Emery's perspective, this topic is relevant in 2018 because talk of chemical weapons have reappeared in current news. Although chemical warfare has essentially been banned globally for nearly one hundred years, "it's more of a danger today [especially in Syria and the Korean peninsula] than it has been in years," he said.

At the author event, Emery will educate the audience on a history that is not widely talked about. He looks forward to sharing this story and continuing a further discussion. Emery emphasizes the fact that anyone, not just military buffs and war historians, can read the book and learn something valuable from it.

The author presentation will start at 6 p.m. on Saturday, January 13. For more information, visit www.northshire.com/upcoming-events.


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