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Their Arrows Will Darken the Sun: The Evolution and Science of Ballistics Paperback – March 22, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0801898570 ISBN-10: 0801898579 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (March 22, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801898579
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801898570
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,249,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Denny is a physicist who has written several science-related books for general audiences... Much of the book is written in a chatty style, often in the first person.

(Choice)

Perhaps the most useful book on ballistics for the layman ever.

(A. A. Nofi StrategyPage)

Review

For a scientist, Denny's approach is delightfully down to earth.

(The Age)

Denny's writing is anything but dry and boring. He adeptly explains complex subject matter and does so with relatively simple language and minimal use of symbolic notation.

(Bat Research News)

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By G. Poirier on May 2, 2011
Format: Paperback
After I purchased this book, I realized that I had already read two others by this same author - both excellent. This set my expectations for the present book; I was not disappointed. In this splendid work, the author discusses the science of ballistics over the ages - from throwing rocks in pre-historic times to the latest in weapons technology. One thing that is made crystal clear in this book is that there is more to projectile delivery than one might think. The author has covered the physics of ballistics in three main sections: the launching of a projectile, the flight of the projectile and the interaction of the projectile with the intended target. The main body of the text is loaded with information as well as detailed explanations of the many physical principles involved. It is also well illustrated with plenty of graphs, tables, diagrams and photos. For those who are mathematically inclined, the author has included a set of 22 technical notes at the end of the main text; these give the interested reader more insight into the physics and mathematics of what is happening.

Overall, I found the information presented to be quite fascinating - even, at times, surprising. Although the explanations were generally clear, a few were a bit heavy going for me and slowed me down. I found the mathematical details in the technical notes to be quite useful. Most of the formula derivations in those notes were clear, some were more challenging to varying degrees, while others were simply presented without derivation (usually, the author asserts, because their derivations would be too lengthy and beyond the scope of the book).

The author writes clearly and authoritatively. His style is quite engaging, lively and often witty. This is a book that would likely be most appreciated by science buffs or any reader who is seriously interested in the science of ballistics, including those taking a course on this subject.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. Baughman on September 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
Unfortunately, this book does not appear to have been carefully fact-checked or edited. It is a nifty topic and written in an engaging style. But Dr. Denny presents at least two factual errors in Chapter 3, one which describes the development of modern firearms. There is an awful lot in this book that is very interesting that I do not have the background experience and training to evaluate. But I *do* know a good bit about modern handguns. To most trained handgunners, the two factual errors I note below might be the equivalent of getting the wrong answer on an American history test question similar to, "Who was the first President of the United States?"

I know that theoretical physics is Dr. Denny's academic discipline and not firearms or any other history. But he presents information in this book as authoritative and presents himself as a credible authority. Having found these errors calls into question the credibility of other statements he makes throughout the book, even those pertaining to ballistics. After all, conscientious, detailed fact-checking is important for non-fiction book authors, and I think most would agree it should be all the more important when presenting information outside one's area of expertise.

So here goes.

On page 56, first paragraph, he describes that a person rapid-firing a double-action revolver will, "...repeatedly pull the trigger, which cocks and fires the gun, ejects the spent cartridge and loads the next round, all from the same trigger pull." In fact, double-action revolvers do not automatically eject spent cartridges and load new rounds. The text actually describes the functioning of a semi-automatic pistol, not a revolver.

Speaking of semi-automatic pistols, on page 62, second paragraph, Dr.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. A. Nofi on September 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
Excerpt from the review on StrategyPage.Com:

"A look at how missile weapons work from Edinburgh University theoretical physicist Denny, who has written several notable works explaining science and technology for the layman, such as Ingenium: Five Machines That Changed the World and Blip, Ping, and Buzz: Making Sense of Radar and Sonar.

"Denny divides his subject into three broad categories, dealing with internal, external, and terminal ballistics. Approaching his subject with some humor, he then begins literally at the beginning, with the ballistics of rocks, javelins, and slings, then goes on to bows and war engines. Naturally the main focus is on gunpowder and other chemical propellant weapons. Denny examines the performance of guns, artillery, and rockets based on the nature of propellants, the differences between weapons intended for long range or for short range use, and more, including how missile weapons do their damage."

For the rest of the review, see StrategyPage.Com
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Format: Paperback
This is a book on a technical topic by an expert, trying to get across complicated concepts to an educated public but not one knowledgeable in ballistics. I do not have the technical expertise to know how well he does it, so see other reviews for that. I know now how complex the subject is, but I don't think I learned much, because I was unable to figure out several of the things he covered.

The book does offer some interesting information. The 7,000 longbowmen at Crecy fired a half million arrows. He describes how a crossbow works, shaped charges and such. I was unaware of the complexity of simply firing a cannonball, say: initial velocity, angle of the cannon, rotation of the ball, factors of wind, gravity, resistance of air, irregularities of propellant, all these and more are involved--I do not have mastery of the various technical terms. I now have much more respect for the technical capacity of designers and operators of such things.
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More About the Author

Mark Denny was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1953. He obtained a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Edinburgh University, Scotland, and spent twenty years working as a radar and sonar systems engineer in the aerospace industry. He began writing popular science books in 2005. "I was emailed one day, out of the blue, by the editor-in-chief at Johns Hopkins University Press who had read some of my papers, and who thought they would make an interesting popular science book. I haven't looked back--explaining science, in a way that non-scientists can appreciate, is what I do." Mark lives on Vancouver Island with his wife, Jane, and spents his time writing, birding, and homebrewing beer. More details about Mark's books can be found on his website: www.markdenny.shawwebspace.ca.

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