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Popular Mechanics The Amazing Weapons That Never Were: Robots, Flying Tanks & Other Machines of War Hardcover – November 6, 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gregory Benford is a two-time winner of the Nebula Award and a professor of physics at the University of California. He is the author of more than 20 novels, including Jupiter Project, Artifact, Against Infinity, Eater, and Timescape. Benford has won the John W. Campbell Award, the Australian Ditmar Award, the 1995 Lord Foundation Award for achievement in the sciences, and the 1990 United Nations Medal in Literature.

Popular Mechanics inspires, instructs, and influences nine million curious minds that read the magazine every month. The magazine features breakthroughs in the latest innovations in science and technology.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Series: Popular Mechanics
  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Hearst; First Edition edition (November 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158816862X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1588168627
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 7.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #523,328 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mike O'Connor TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Over the decades, various predictions have been made regarding the weapons of the future. The pages of POPULAR MECHANICS, for one, regularly featured articles on and illustrations of various "death rays," robot weapons, flying tanks, futuristic combat gear and so on. Noted science fiction author Gregory Benford and the current editors of POPULAR MECHANICS gathered together many of those forecasts to produce this nostalgic, wonderfully appealing history of "what-if weaponry."

After an introductory chapter on warfare and weapon development, Benford examines the topic in chapters entitled 'Future Wars with Weapons of Wonder,' 'The Control of Electric Brains,' 'Airplanes Will Replace Cavalry,' 'Atomic Power for Peace,' etc. Entries in the chapters are divided by general subject and date. Most are a paragraph or two in length; a very few run a half-page or more. For example, the 'Airplanes Will Replace Cavalry' chapter has blurbs/articles on: 'The Next War in the Air' with material from 1907, 1909, 1915 & 1931; blimp/dirigible predictions from 1929, 1942 & 1958; vertical flight predictions from 1909, 1941, 1944 & 1959; and so on.

What's especially appealing are the colorful, period illustrations from POPULAR MECHANICS of proposed planes/tanks/floating bases/subs/rifles/gas masks/etc., one-of prototypes that were actually built and so on.

Though most of the proposed ideas went nowhere - using A-bombs for strip mining!?! - some like helicopters, guided missiles, gliders, sub-launched seaplanes, LSTs and photo-recce drones actually panned out. Other books on the subject have ridiculed such predictions. Benford presents the ideas without passing judgement, a nice touch.

In summary, I greatly enjoyed THE AMAZING WEAPONS THAT NEVER WERE. It's a hoot, a fascinating, entertaining summary of what-if weaponry and technology. Recommended.

*****
5,200 Helpful Votes!
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Weapons that never were talks about a lot of inventions and innovations for warfare... but the interesting thing is about half of these were predictions of weapons which really did see operational use! It's just that when these predictions were made they were a little ahead of their time. Some of the inventions DID get deployed but not in the manner originally foreseen or years after they were supposed to be fielded. Also, there are a few "negative predictions" of things which would NEVER happen ("airplanes sinking battleships? Poppycock!") and a few items which didn't entirely seem to be related to warfare.

I loved the illustrations from the various periods, and most of the commentary and articles gleaned from Popular Mechanics are entertaining. Maybe the fact that the contents were restricted to PM explains why there is nothing on the Davy Crockett, the Army's atomic grenade launcher or the artillery piece known as "Atomic Annie." Nothing appeared in the book about antiaircraft mines or sensors designed to detect Viet Cong by their smell. I think this would have made it more complete, but still a fun book!
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Honestly this is why I bought it. The articles are well written and the images just what you'd expect from the time periods covered. In reality a lot of these ideas resurfaced and became workable. Its always interesting though to see how far back these ideas go. Example: A 1928 prediction that foretold of a special addition to a parachutists clothing allowing them to control their passage through the air prior to pulling the rip-cord. Entire suits now exist that allow sky-divers (a term that did not exist in 1928) to control their descent. An excellent book.
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Over the years since it started publication, Popular Mechanicshas always covered the science of new weapons systems and what it foresaw as future developments of such. This book is a hard bound collection of these reports and proposed weapon developments from the WWI era through the 1960s, weather they actually were attempted and failed or were modified into what did become factual weapons or just were plain science fiction and were never even attempted beyond the proposal stage. An interesting premise and collection. It's also a bit comical and a bit terrifying in what was considered as feasible! And what could have been...in an alternate reality! This volume is a companion to a similar volume on household appliances and inventions that were proposed and envisioned for the future of the late 20th century by PM also! Makes a unique set. But one read is enough, so I only gave it a four star rating....a reader of PM over the years would want it in their library..as would a science teacher, etc. otherwise, you'll probably prefer to get it from the library, read it, and take it back! Or a grand pop who wants to tell his grandkids what they expected today to be like!
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First off I apologize for this review. I try to give enough info about a book, without ruining what you will find inside the covers. Now with this book its not a danger, but I wanted to make this fact clear and pastable for all book reviews.
This may seem silly, but there are a number of the inventions in here that are real. They seem to fall into a couple categories. Computer/ robot controlled vehicles/weapons. Super long range weapons, death rays,
Now I liked the book, but when so many never were weapons actually are, I have to call the book out.
OK heres one. The stratospheric missile (ICBM anyone)???
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