Accessory to War
In this fascinating foray into the centuries-old relationship between science and military power, acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and writer-researcher Avis Lang examine how the methods and tools of astrophysics have been enlisted in the service of war. "The overlap is strong, and the knowledge flows in both directions," say the authors, because astrophysicists and military planners care about many of the same things: multi-spectral detection, ranging, tracking, imaging, high ground, nuclear fusion, and access to space. Tyson and Lang call it a "curiously complicit" alliance. "The universe is both the ultimate frontier and the highest of high grounds," they write. "Shared by both space scientists and space warriors, it’s a laboratory for one and a battlefield for the other. The explorer wants to understand it; the soldier wants to dominate it. But without the right technology—which is more or less the same technology for both parties—nobody can get to it, operate in it, scrutinize it, dominate it, or use it to their advantage and someone else’s disadvantage."Spanning early celestial navigation to satellite-enabled warfare, Accessory to War is a richly researched and provocative examination of the intersection of science, technology, industry, and power that will introduce Tyson’s millions of fans to yet another dimension of how the universe has shaped our lives and our world.

Accessory to War Details

TitleAccessory to War
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseSep 11th, 2018
PublisherW. W. Norton Company
ISBN-139780393064445
Rating
GenreScience, Nonfiction, History, War, Politics, Military Fiction, Astronomy, Science Nature, Space, Physics

Accessory to War Review

  • Brandon Forsyth
    January 1, 1970
    An alternate (and, arguably, better) title for this could be THE HISTORY OF ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN LESS OF A HURRY, and it's just as fascinating and richly observed as Mr. Degrasse Tyson's slimmer volume from last year. Unfortunately, there's also a very long section in the middle that feels like an exhaustive attempt to find every UN declaration ever made about the use of outer space, and it really bogs down what has, up until that point, been a rollicking adventure through the ages. It's a An alternate (and, arguably, better) title for this could be THE HISTORY OF ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN LESS OF A HURRY, and it's just as fascinating and richly observed as Mr. Degrasse Tyson's slimmer volume from last year. Unfortunately, there's also a very long section in the middle that feels like an exhaustive attempt to find every UN declaration ever made about the use of outer space, and it really bogs down what has, up until that point, been a rollicking adventure through the ages. It's a good read, but not one that I think I'll be going back to in the years to come. It is undeniably successful at making you marvel at the universe, though, and there were prolonged sections where I read with wonder at the people and ideas contained within.
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  • Jon Stone
    January 1, 1970
    For anyone interested in the linkage between the missions of science and warfighting, this book is for you. I feel like I can tell the pages written by Dr. Tyson, and those written by Avis Lang. That may sound negative, but it’s not. I think the humor and perspective of Dr. Tyson comes through more with the contrast. Anyone interested in the early days of space (both military and civil) should give this a read for a sort of intro to the subject. That aside, the book doesn’t paint a poignant pict For anyone interested in the linkage between the missions of science and warfighting, this book is for you. I feel like I can tell the pages written by Dr. Tyson, and those written by Avis Lang. That may sound negative, but it’s not. I think the humor and perspective of Dr. Tyson comes through more with the contrast. Anyone interested in the early days of space (both military and civil) should give this a read for a sort of intro to the subject. That aside, the book doesn’t paint a poignant picture of the military as I expected. It’s not pro-war, and not 100% anti-military either. Unless you are Aunt Melissa, that is. Overall a good read that I felt compelled to read whenever I had time to do so. Will buy this when out in paperback to have at home for sure.
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  • Ashley W.
    January 1, 1970
    it was a good book
  • Angie
    January 1, 1970
    This is fantastic look at the history of astrophysics and its intersection with warming, much more thorough and well-sourced than most of Dr. Tyson's writing. It's aimed at an audience that wants to get into the weeds, so not those in a hurry.The first few chapters were interesting, but mostly in the realm of things I had heard before. The message came across as: "Psst, some technologies developed for war are also useful in science and vice versa". Not exactly earth-shattering. The technologies This is fantastic look at the history of astrophysics and its intersection with warming, much more thorough and well-sourced than most of Dr. Tyson's writing. It's aimed at an audience that wants to get into the weeds, so not those in a hurry.The first few chapters were interesting, but mostly in the realm of things I had heard before. The message came across as: "Psst, some technologies developed for war are also useful in science and vice versa". Not exactly earth-shattering. The technologies are telescopes/optics, navigation aids and calendars, and development of technologies using the electromagnetic spectrum. It gives context to the discussion but isn't worth a book in and of itself.The second half of the book is much more eye-opening. From a detailed look at 20th century technology (the world wars) to present-day issues, it examines the space force we have, its tasks and background, and how the line between military and civilian work is very thin indeed. There are places where I can feel the authors pushing a thesis about how astrophysical work benefits civilization as a whole and national security in general. There is an aspect of addressing some scientists disdain of human space exploration (you can do so much more science on a lower budget with robots) and arguing that humans in space benefits science as a whole. There are warnings about the dangers, as yet unrealized but not unimaginable, of space-based warfare. There are reviews of the space programs of Russia and China, as well as our allies in Europe and elsewhere, and a case for collaboration in science leading to peace in politics. This book is roomy enough for several large messages. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of science (specifically physics) and will recommend this to my students. To borrow a phrase from another book from a few years ago, this could be called Astrophysics for Future Presidents. Or maybe So You Think You Can Space Force.There are a few faults. A few of the chapters get very weedy and lose the conversational tone that the book begins and ends with. He tries valiantly to separate astrophysicists and physicists, treating them as from entirely different fields with entirely different motivations and foci, and I have trouble buying that -- it comes off as a little strange. But it's a great read and I'll be recommending it for a long time.I got a copy to review from the publisher through Edelweiss.
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