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A Radar History of World War II: Technical and Military Imperatives Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0750306591 ISBN-10: 0750306599

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 563 pages
  • Publisher: Institute of Physics Publishing (January 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0750306599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0750306591
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #675,145 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Brown's book is one of the best ever on the history of radar and war … the definitive history of radar science and war.
-IEEE Review

A great book, of permanent value: powerful, magisterial, full of surprises, and freighted with deep insight into science and human affairs. It will remain for all time the definitive history of the invention and application of radar during the Second World War.
-Richard Rhodes, author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb (Pulitzer Prize winner)

… a valuable document suitable for the nonspecialist reader, includes a number of smaller or greater surprises (at least for us 'youngsters') and couples, in an interesting way, human, technological, and military topics to show the complexity of modern warfare. The author has synthesized a huge amount of material in a very readable way and avoided the use of rarely known difficult English phrases-a habit of many British writers. Everyone keen on studying a less-than conventional book about radar history should acquire this volume!
-IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine

Given the breadth of his canvas the author does a pretty good job, and I came out of the book with a much better understanding of the use of radar in the last war, particularly in the Pacific and Mediterranean, than I had gathered from the dozen or so books already on my shelf. … I am glad to welcome this edition to my family of books on radar.
-Robert Hanbury Brown, Physics World

… this book is to be recommended to anyone interested in the history of science and technology and of World War II. In particular, Brown has created a new benchmark in the writing of the history of radar.
-David Zimmerman, IEEE Spectrum

Louis Brown ... offers in this book a compendious and scholarly history of the development of radar ... Brown tells a fascinating story, and this book can be hard to put down.
-Robert H. March, University of Wisconsin

This important and extremely useful book is destined to become the standard work in the field. Highly recommended.
-W.M. Leary, University of Georgia

[It] provides a valuable resource to scholars in the field. Brown synthesizes a vast amount of material, bringing together in one volume the history of radar developments in no fewer than a dozen countries. Add in the author's witty asides-he had this reviewer laughing out loud on more than one occasion-and this is a book worth buying.
-Timothy S. Wolters, The Journal of Military History

No other history of radar discusses every country's program.

… a useful resource, filling a void in the literature on radar development.
-Technology and Culture

… a fascinating and readable account … a book you must read.
-Contemporary Physics

… much new discussion and analyses in Brown's book.
-Annals of Science

Brown's account will provide a worthwhile read.
-Robert W. Seidel (University of Minnesota), History of Physics Newsletter, Vol.VIII, No.2

… this book should also teach something to even the most knowledgeable. No other history of radar discusses every country's program. Equally unique is Brown's treatment of both the technological development and combat uses of radar. And topping it off, he wraps everything in a highly readable package.
-Barton C. Hacker

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 9 customer reviews
If you read the book you will see what I mean.
Alexander T. Gafford
Having said that this is a very informative book and well worth the time taken to absorb what it has to contribute especially to airborne and naval history of WWII.
R. Douglas Johnson
The outcome is a book almost any reader would love to have written!
F.A.S. Sterrenburg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By F.A.S. Sterrenburg on January 26, 2001
Format: Paperback
Brown began his studies on World War II radar development "because the book he would have liked to read did not exist". The outcome is a book almost any reader would love to have written! Although radar became an esoteric subject almost from the beginning, the necessary technical background is presented clearly and the reader does not have to be an electronics specialist to enjoy the superb panoramic view Brown presents of the development of a technology that changed the face of war - and that of peace as well! Even if one is familiar with the subject, surprises start popping up in the first dozen pages or so. This is not an updated version of the books that have gone before but something new. In the first place, it is based on massive, critical and thoroughly documented research. Secondly, it does not focus on the efforts of just one or two participants in the radar epos - be it the Germans, British, American, the naval or air forces. Instead it describes the almost simultaneous and often comparable developments that took place before and during the war worldwide. Critical, and thus well-known, subjects like the role of radar in the Battle of Britain are dealt with, of course, but even here fresh insights are offered. And besides, many epic events that have unjustly been "forgotten" - such as the Japanese forces that were NOT to be found on Attu Island - are described. Even the selection of the photographs (of excellent quality) bears testimony to a fresh approach. Almost invariably, mention of the German Seetakt radar has been accompanied by pictures of the burning wreck of the Admiral Graf Spee. Here we see an intelligence officer's nightmare (or delight!): a German Torpedo School ship with Seetakt antenna in full view - in a freely available 1939 pocketbook!Read more ›
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Stuart Ellison on April 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
In A Radar History of World War II, physicist Louis Brown recounts the little-known history of a technology that may very well have been the difference between a free world and a Nazi-dominated one. The book provides very painstaking details and is unique in that it describes the technology that existed within the societies of all major combatants: Americans, British, Germans, Russians, and Japanese. It is also a good primer on the basics of radar that can be understood by the layman.

However, the book is long and tedious. Although the science can be understood by a layman, I can personally attest that it is rough going. Although Brown recounts some interesting anecdotes, it is clear that he is a scientist first and a writer second. As a result, this book is unlikely to appeal to a mass audience. That being said, A Radar History of World War II is a rewarding read for those with the necessary stamina. If you're a scientist or an engineer, feel free to add a star or two to my rating.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 9, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The story of the development atomic bomb finally had its complete chronicle in 1995 with the Richard Rhodes book "The Making of the Atomic Bomb." Rhodes is unmatched as an explainer of difficult concepts; he is even better at describing the personalities who made the discoveries that led to the Bomb. More importantly his skill made the book as good a read as any Tom Clancy novel.
Louis Brown attempts to do the same for Radar during World War II. The good news is that this book has the sweep and depth of anything Rhodes has done. If anything it's even more complete. As a fan of the history of technology I've finally found the single source book on WWII radar. As of now this book has become the definitive work on the subject. If you are interested in the topic you have to read this book.
Authors of the history technology need a rare combination of divergent skills to write a good technical history; an understanding and passion for the subject, dogged research skills for those subjects that were once classified, and the ability to tell a captivating story.
Brown is as good as they get for understanding and passion. His description of German and Japanese radar boggle the mind. The sad part is that as a writer Brown is simply no match for Rhodes. What could have been a sweeping epic that popularized the subject ends up being a tedious list of facts of interest only to the few passionate about the subject. The book veers between a mind-numbing list of radar types (with an awesome bibliography, stunning index yet it has no timelines, radar order of battle, or any coherent summary of the mass of data presented), it is interspersed with personal rambling asides, punctuated by bursts of interesting exposition and great insight.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By N. Alexander on August 28, 2006
Format: Paperback
The book is an extremely valuable, comprehensive and trusted source of information about all principal aspects and many details of the radar before and in time of the WWII, except one minor aspect. This is the pre-war history of radar R&D in the USSR. The author cites only one reference - a book by a Soviet general M. Lobanov, who supervised the gun laying radar developments in the 1930s, written in 1975. Still it is clear that the author could not read Russian and so had the book translated by someone. It looks like not all the book was translated or read, because too many facts, names and organizations are twisted, mixed up and simply omitted. This old Sovet book gives much better vision and proper names and facts than those reproduced by L. Brown. Still today exist other sources on this topic. In some sad way, the mentioned deficiency continues long tradition in the English-centered literature of neglecting and not accurate using the information available about the radar in the USSR even if it is scarce. The tradition started when someone in America in 1944 made a capital error in the name of one of two Russians who measured a real cavity magnetron in 1937 and published it in 1940 (in Russian) - correct name Malyarov or Maliarov was twisted and printed as "Malairov". And so, forever in English/USA publications the poor guy is "Malairov". L. Brown, in similar way, twisted the history of the research radar Zenit and presented it in a most sardonic way as an example of the worst radar development existed at that moment. I am not going to discuss this in details. I'd like only to note that, first, in the mentioned boook of Gen. Lobanov the story of Zenit is given with great sympathy and his evaluation of that achievement is clearly highly positive, at least at the time of 1938-39 testing.Read more ›
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