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The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency by [Jacobsen, Annie]
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4.4 out of 5 stars 211 customer reviews

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Length: 577 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of September 2015: If you’re searching for an obtuse, synapse-dulling book on DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and its mission to create breakthrough military technologies, look elsewhere. Jacobsen’s nimble account of the ultra-secret R&D arm of the Defense Department engagingly details the shrouded history of the organization, starting with its genesis during the nuclear arms race and covering its efforts up through today. In her final section, Jacobsen offers solid but chilling conjectures on what covert programs DARPA is focused on now. Jacobsen (a journalist and the author of Operation Paperclip and Area 51) strikes a balance between lauding the technology leaps driven by DARPA and pointing out that the ultimate goal is to create wartime tools to guarantee U.S. dominance. DARPA’s successes include lighter machine guns (developed for slighter-bodied soldiers during the Vietnamese war and now standard U.S. issue), the Internet, GPS, and drones. Says Jacobsen, “DARPA creates, DARPA dominates, and when sent to the battlefield, DARPA destroys.” But, Jacobsen also asks, “what if some of these ‘dramatic new capabilities’ are not such a great idea?”

Hawks will find plenty of meat in here to fuel their arguments for the value of top-secret U.S. military programs. At the same time, doves will be well bolstered to pose uncomfortable questions about the worthiness of such activities in a free country. Thoughtful and nuanced, The Pentagon’s Brain will ask you to use your brain as well.--Adrian Liang


Pulitzer Prize Finalist in History

One of The Washington Post's Notable Nonfiction Books of 2015

One of The Boston Globe's Best Books of 2015

One of Amazon's Top 100 Books of 2015

"A brilliantly researched account of a small but powerful secret government agency whose military research profoundly affects world affairs."―The Pulitzer Prize Committee

"Filled with the intrigue and high stakes of a spy novel, Jacobsen's history of DARPA is as much a fascinating testament to human ingenuity as it is a paean to endless industrial warfare and the bureaucracy of the military-industrial complex."―Kirkus Reviews

"A fascinating and unsettling portrait of the secretive U.S. government agency....Jacobsen walks a fine line in telling the story of the agency and its innovations without coming across as a cheerleader or a critic, or letting the narrative devolve into a salacious tell-all. Jacobsen's ability to objectively tell the story of DARPA, not to mention its murky past, is truly remarkable, making for a terrifically well-crafted treatise on the agency most Americans know next to nothing about."
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Jacobsen offers a definitive history of the clandestine agency.... She explores the implications of DARPA work on technology that will not be widely known to the public for generations but will certainly impact national security and concepts of war."―Vanessa Bush, Booklist (starred review)

"Jacobsen's account will serve as the model for histories of military research and development and is likely to lead to more works and articles about DARPA.... Engrossing, conversation-starting read..."―Library Journal

"Annie Jacobsen's considerable talents as an investigative journalist prove indispensable in uncovering the remarkable history of one of America's most powerful and clandestine military research agencies. And she is a great storyteller, making the tantalizing tale of The Pentagon's Brain -- from the depths of the Cold War to present day -- come alive on every page."―Gerald Posner, author of God's Bankers

"A fascinating and sometimes uneasy exploration of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency...."―Dina Temple-Raston, The Washington Post

"In this fascinating and terrifying account, Annie Jacobsen regales us with the stories behind the agency's 'consequential and sometimes Orwellian' innovations, including autonomous weapons systems--killer robots that could decide, without human intervention, who lives and who dies."―Bryan Schatz, Mother Jones

"Annie Jacobsen has a gift for unearthing secret, long-buried information."―Mary Ann Gwinn, Seattle Times

"An exciting read that asks an important question: what is the risk of allowing lethal technologies to be developed in secret?"―Ann Finkbeiner, Nature

Product details

  • File Size: 4931 KB
  • Print Length: 577 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (September 15, 2015)
  • Publication Date: September 15, 2015
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,292 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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