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The E-Bomb: How America's New Directed Energy Weapons Will Change the Way Future Wars Will Be Fought Hardcover – September 26, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dramatic book title notwithstanding, there is no e-bomb. The military is testing, however, a series of directed energy weapons ranging from lasers to microwaves. Beason, a physicist and the associate director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, offers a spirited defense of these new weapons and their likely impact on the battlefield. He traces their development over the past three decades and notes that they are now on the threshold of deployment. Despite his enthusiasm for technological solutions to military threats;"The size of the army matters," he writes, "but technology wins wars";Beason concedes that lasers and microwaves are not without their critics, including leading scientists and military officers. Nevertheless, he believes that doubts can be dispelled by addressing people's natural fear of new technology. Beason argues that directed energy applications are already commonplace;LASIK surgery, DVD players, etc.;and explains the science in terms that ordinary people can grasp, despite the occasional references to Fresnel equations. He also gives the reader a peek at some of the directed energy weapons that the military is currently testing, including Active Denial, a nonlethal, low-power microwave weapon that can be mounted on a Humvee. Despite Beason's cheerleading style, this is a solid introduction to directed energy weapons. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"A concise, detailed and fascinating history and explanation of directed energy weapons." -- The Santa Fe New Mexican 10/16/2005

"An excellent read...I highly recommend it to military officers past and present." -- Checkpoints, December 2005

"Highly authoritative…Admirably clear…with examples that anyone can relate to." -- Rusi Defence Systems, Spring 2006

"Makes a convincing case for directed-energy weapons...A subject well worth pondering and reading about." -- Roanoke Times, 12/04/05

"The most comprehensive and up-to-date depiction of the revolutionary change that is about to happen." -- Naples Daily News 10/16/2005

A thought-provoking portent of the future of military might. -- Midwest Book Review, May 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1st Da Capo Press Ed edition (September 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306814021
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306814020
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,103,014 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Coming from the position of a layman this book works very well. It provides simple explanations of the physics behind directed energy weapons such that people without scientific training can understand how they work and what this implies. This is done with the use of diagrams where necessary to explain the point. The book moves forward steadily and this isn't a book that you will get bogged down in.

Chapters describe the technology itself, the problems with it, how far the military has taken it, the current state of the art and the possible future manifestations of it. They also describe the ever present battle between the sceptics and true believers in this technology. The book also includes details and photographs of unclassified projects and demonstrators. In addition, Beason makes clever use of what-if scenarios drawn from all too familiar events to demonstrate the possible utility of directed energy weapons.

Overall this book is well written and provides a strong introduction to directed energy weapons that covers both the story so far and the possible futures from the perspective of an advocate for this technology. I doubt that any comparatively accessible books exist on this topic to date. All the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle have been put on the table here and I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in finding out more about directed energy weapons.
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Format: Hardcover
Not too bad a book, but definitely an introductory text. It also has some curious gaps. For instance, it entirely omits Raytheon's VIGILANT EAGLE system for airport defense. It makes very little mention of contributions to DEW from the EW community. Other Active Denial System (ADS) it omits all energy-based non-lethal weapons. Finally, it makes very little mention of HPM-based EM threats. I expected it to at least survey the threats of EMP.

If you really want to learn about this subject, start with this book, and move on to your public library. Read the first few chapters of Jane's All The Worlds Fighting Ships and Jane's All The Worlds Fighting Aircraft for weapons systems principles. From there, move on to periodicals and read through the last fifteen years or so of Aviation Week's articles on EW/EMP/HPM. Finally, read the Executive Summary of the report by the EMP threat commission.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Right at the start, Dr. Beason begins his "unveiling" of DE weapons with a qualifier:

"DE research is and development has been shrouded in a veil of secrecy. There are national security reasons for not revealing certain applications or vulnerabilities. My reviewers and I have been careful to ensure that no classified or insider information has been disclosed. I relied on publicly released information as well as interviewers to build the story of directed energy."

He is revealing only declassified information. What degree of this technology and research is still classified?

Active Denial Systems can cause an internal burning sensation in select individuals in a force field the size of multiple football fields. Airborne Lasers can disintegrate a missile in midair. These are 2 degrees of a new technology that acts on radiant energy.

I am continually asking myself how these weapons might be scalable as I read this book. This book is very informative, but Dr. Beason has selectively exposed only certain aspects of Directed Energy Weapons effects. Keep an open mind about that which he has not exposed.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I worked in base recovery research and know the author, so I already had a special interest in the subject. I found Beason's analysis of number of weapons per target especially interesting. When my research boss suggested we should do research in directed energy shields for our bases, rather than research in how to recover from an attack, I thought he was nuts. It seems I was wrong.
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By kc-lam on October 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Vividly written, this book offers an useful introduction to directed energy weapons and their development history. High-power microwaves weapons will not be feasible unless the large infrastructure are shrinked, microwave powers are increased and atmospheric breakdowns are overcome. However, the non-lethal Active Denial System with limited range against human appears plausible in the near future. As for the high-energy laser, there are many types of laser weapons to be fielded in the air, on the ground and on the sea. These systems are not mature yet and are also too large to be efficient.

The USAF relay mirror experiment proved that a laser system could track a fast-flying object in low-earth orbit, reflect laser energy off a mirror and illuminate a target. This is exciting because airborne or ground-based laser might become a 'global' weapon by increasing the distance of the laser's reach with relay mirrors!
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