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ABC Western Australia

Michael White

The Fruits of War

When reading this book one sees that virtually all technology had an origin which was linked to military purposes. And that's the problem - the subject area is much too wide, and ends up as a general history of technology. White is a skilled writer, and the result is a lot more readable than most history of technology books, but on the whole I found it uninspiring. I think it would be most useful for anyone looking for a subject to write about - you could find one thing that interested you and then follow it up using the references at the end of the book.

The book would also be useful as a source of quotes of how people have underestimated the possibilities of new technologies - for instance in 1901 Wibur Wright predicted that man would not fly for 50 years, and in 1920 the New York Times stated that rockets would not work beyond the atmosphere (they published a correction in 1969). It also interesting to find out about how new weapons could change the balance of power between established rulers and small groups which challenge them. However, I didn't think that these individual points of note were sufficient to maintain the interest of the reader throughout this longish book.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews