Published by Random House Audio on September 11, 2018
Genres: History, Science
Length: 18 hrs 38 mins
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In this fascinating foray into the millennia-long relationship between science and military power, acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and writer Avis Lang examine how the methods and tools of astrophysics have been enlisted in the service of war. “The overlap is strong, and it’s a two- way street,” say the authors, because the 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.
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.
My non-fiction reading really has little rhyme or reason to it. I pick up books that grab my attention or that I’ve seen other people love. I have to admit I don’t really have a huge interest in space exploration or military history, but Neil deGrasse Tyson is a big name and I’ve seen a show or two on tv and at a planetarium that he’s hosted, which is why I picked up Accessory to War.
At times Accessory to War is just fascinating. For me, that was mostly when it was discussing the history of astrophysics and how its beginnings affected armies and explorers and merchants. I also found the parts about how current countries approach space interesting. It’s well-written. It doesn’t talk down to those of us who don’t know much, but it also wasn’t over my head. It was conversational and easy to follow.
Unfortunately, there were other parts that were dry and boring. Lists of treaties and resolutions or companies or countries. It was making its points, but blah.
I listened to the audio, which maybe was part of the problem. I couldn’t skim over anything. Other than that, the narrations was good, clear and with a tone that fit the content.
The connection between the military and science is obvious and clear. Science benefits military and “defense” pays for science. The book was clearly anti-war. The authors prefer science for science’s sake, not to help destroy people/places, which didn’t surprise me.
Overall, Accessory to War was worth my time. It had a lot of information—some I might even remember.