- Series: General Military
- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Osprey Publishing; First Printing edition (September 20, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1849083908
- ISBN-13: 978-1849083904
- Product Dimensions: 1 x 1 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #524,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Secret Weapons: Technology, Science and the Race to Win World War II (General Military) Hardcover – September 20, 2011
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“Ford writes with a light touch... this will be lots of fun for military history fans, including younger history buffs.” ―Library Journal
“British scientist and TV personality Ford pulls back the curtain in this fascinating, accessible study of the weapons and tactics that changed the course of World War II.” ―Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Brian J Ford is a prolific research scientist who launched major science programms for the BBC. His books pioneer new approaches in bringing science to the public. Over 100 editions of his books have been published around the world, and he appears in TV programmes produced in studios ranging from Hollywood to Delhi, and from Germany to Japan. He was a NESTA Fellow 2004-2007, was presented with the inaugural Köhler medal in America for his work in microscopy, and has been nominated for the prestigious Faraday Medal of the Royal Society in London. His work is widely reported and discussed in journals including Scientific American, Nature, New Scientist, The Microscope and the British Medical Journal; his discoveries feature in many text-books and CD-ROMs. In addition to textbooks he has also written the popular 101 Questions about Science books. His First Encyclopaedia of Science (for the pre-teens) sold over 70,000 copies in a month. Brian J Ford contributes to The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Times.
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Top customer reviews
As an avid student of WWII, I was familiar with a number of the incidents mentioned in the book but the author has taken this two steps further -- giving the background to tie together related concepts and taking them forward into current warfare.
A couple of themes are very clear in the book -- that war often accelerates the process of technological development. He also does seem determined to try to keep the image of Werner von Braun unsullied.
There is also a good system of internal cross-references to help the reader.
The author presents a balance of admiration for things done right by all the players -- American, British, German, or Russian -- as well as criticism of their faults. He also makes appropriate comments on moral issues, such as the amount of time spent on trying to weaponize biological warfare (rather then trying to find a cure) and criticism of failures to prosecute war crimes, particularly with regards to Operation Papper Clip, where the Americans imported German scientists after the war to continue their work (the British and Russians had similar programs too). The author very much takes governments to task for failure to recognize and exploit new technology to full advantage but also recognizes where other governments have been more insightful.
There are some faults with the book
- the author I think confuses the Germans and British in a description of Operation Werewolf
- the author spends too much time discussing a weapon called "Panjandrum Folly" (4 pages was too much)
- the author could have made a connection from "death rays" to current high-powwered microwave weapons
I particularly liked the description in the last chapter of the "chess game" between the British and the Germans on move and countermove relating to the use of electronic bombing signals.
Overall, the book is an excellent work that makes a great contribution to our knowledge of WWII.
I highly recommend this book!
It's not a hard read, nor is it a page turner. I'd put it in my "Good Throne Book" category because you can read it for short periods because its cut up into so many relatively short unrelated stories, some very interesting, some not so much. WWII buffs will enjoy it, young people not so much, amatuer historians and science buffs, most likely.
Overall the theme of this book is that much of the technology we have today came out of WW2. This is true but its overstated in this book. Many of the examples he quotes are actually pre-ww2 ideas such as atomic bombs, jets and RADAR. What WW2 did was accelerate these developments.