Friday, Dec 16
Ships from: Amazon.com Sold by: Amazon.com
Follow the Author
Torpedo: Inventing the Military-Industrial Complex in the United States and Great Britain Hardcover – January 2, 2014
Enhance your purchase
When President Eisenhower referred to the "military-industrial complex" in his 1961 Farewell Address, he summed up in a phrase the merger of government and industry that dominated the Cold War United States. In this bold reappraisal, Katherine Epstein uncovers the origins of the military-industrial complex in the decades preceding World War I, as the United States and Great Britain struggled to perfect a crucial new weapon: the self-propelled torpedo.
Torpedoes epitomized the intersection of geopolitics, globalization, and industrialization at the turn of the twentieth century. They threatened to revolutionize naval warfare by upending the delicate balance among the world's naval powers. They were bought and sold in a global marketplace, and they were cutting-edge industrial technologies. Building them, however, required substantial capital investments and close collaboration among scientists, engineers, businessmen, and naval officers. To address these formidable challenges, the U.S. and British navies created a new procurement paradigm: instead of buying finished armaments from the private sector or developing them from scratch at public expense, they began to invest in private-sector research and development. The inventions emerging from torpedo R&D sparked legal battles over intellectual property rights that reshaped national security law.
Blending military, legal, and business history with the history of science and technology, Torpedo recasts the role of naval power in the run-up to World War I and exposes how national security can clash with property rights in the modern era.
By brilliantly synthesizing military history with the histories of business, technology, law, and public policy, Torpedo explodes a veritable fleet of assumptions ranging from the origins of the military-industrial complex to the ownership of intellectual property in a world where the divisions between public and private were in flux. (Brian Balogh, author of A Government Out of Sight: The Mystery of National Authority in Nineteenth-Century America)
Epstein uses the history of American and British torpedo development to provide a thick description of the way boundaries between government and private industry eroded in the area of weapons development. Skillfully integrating military, legal, business, and technological history, she argues that the military-industrial complex began with torpedoes in the late-nineteenth century, not with atomic weapons in the mid-twentieth century. This highly original, deeply researched book is an important contribution to scholarship on war and the state. (Mary L. Dudziak, author of War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences)
This rich and powerful book reveals a hidden revolution in naval warfare, one at the heart of the creation of the modern military-industrial complex. It is a fresh and sure-footed account of the emergence of the torpedo. By making the weapon's significance and complexity clear for the first time, Torpedo rewrites British and U.S. naval history. (David Edgerton, author of England and the Aeroplane: Militarism, Modernity and Machines)
You cannot understand the naval side of World War I without understanding the profound impact of torpedoes on the navies who fought--an impact that went well beyond the navies themselves. This book is an excellent guide to that story and to the technological revolution that brought it about. (Norman Friedman, author of Network-Centric Warfare: How Navies Learned to Fight Smarter through Three World Wars)
Torpedo is the first detailed account of the development of naval torpedoes in the decades before World War I. But it is much more than that. It reveals the origin of the military-industrial complex, the fraught relations between governments and private firms, and the tangled legal history of intellectual property in weapons development. In doing so, it uncovers the complicated interconnections between technology, the military, and the law that historians of the period have previously ignored. (Daniel R. Headrick, author of Technology: A World History)
This deeply researched book traces torpedoes' impact on the British and American navies before World War I. During this period of rapid technological change and intense geopolitical competition, torpedoes--cutting-edge weapons at the time--disrupted traditional naval tactics and strategies, forcing navies to make operational and procurement decisions in the face of pervasive uncertainty. Epstein displays a keen understanding of the challenges confronting naval officers and policy-makers, and the parallels with today's national-security affairs are striking. Highly recommended. (Admiral James Stavridis, U.S. Navy (ret.) and Tufts University)
Epstein has done a remarkable job of mastering a range of highly technical issues connected to the development of torpedoes in the United Kingdom and the United States prior to World War I…Her book will set the standard for further research on the military-industrial complex. (Lawrence D. Freedman Foreign Affairs 2014-05-01)
About the Author
- ASIN : 0674725263
- Publisher : Harvard University Press; 1st edition (January 2, 2014)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 328 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780674725263
- ISBN-13 : 978-0674725263
- Item Weight : 1.45 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.39 x 1.01 x 9.56 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #393,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Second, Torpedo is about the development of the legal, bureaucratic, and technical foundations of the modern military industrial complex. Building on the work of other theorists, Epstein argues that the real foundations of the MIC lay in naval procurement at the end of the nineteenth century. The industrial demands on naval warfare, both in terms of capital intensive production and capital intensive research, required a large peace-time commitment on the part of the government. The state and private industry could equip armies much more quickly than they could equip navies or (eventually) air forces.
This meant developing novel forms of public-private interaction. In particular, to acquire advanced technology the state could no longer rely on private firms using their own capital to develop off-the-shelf products that the military could choose to purchase. The capital requirement of innovation, combined with the fact that defense firms had a limited number of customers, meant that firms would only pursue innovation if assured that their investment would pay off. This meant that the state would have to pre-emptively invest in private innovation, whether through direct grants or through guaranteed purchase contracts.
This, in turn, created a complex set of intellectual property problems. The private firms that developed the torpedoes wanted to own the intellectual property associated with that technology, or at least to be fairly compensated for their investment. This meant selling either to the United States or to some foreign government. The government, on the other hand, felt that its investment in the projects meant that it should share (at least) in the ownership of the intellectual property. The government also worried about the export of advanced technology and advanced intellectual property to foreign buyers. This set the stage for brutal IP litigation between the US government and several private firms, both foreign and domestic. That the government and the firms needed each other served to make the fighting even more vicious.
The US systems of intellectual property and export control were unprepared for this development. The US tried to rely on the 1799 Logan Act (meant to prevent private individuals from conducting US foreign policy) in order to prevent US firms from exporting torpedoes abroad. Similarly, US patent law struggled with the quandaries associated with joint public-private development of IP. In the United Kingdom, which already had a system of export controls and secret patents, this process ran far more smoothly.
On the organizational and doctrinal side, Epstein points out that while we would expect the USN, as the smaller and less tradition-bound of the two navies, would focus on a “disruptive” innovation like the torpedo, in reality the Royal Navy pushed farther and faster on torpedo doctrine and technology than any of its competitors. In contrast to the hidebound institution often depicted in popular history, the early 1900s were a period of intellectual ferment in the RN, with questions of fleet design and ship construction hotly debated between several factions. The torpedo, understood by many as a weapon with war-winning potential, loomed large for most of these factions.
The RN also had better access to research and training resources than the USN, which allowed it both to formulate doctrine more effectively, and to feed experiential knowledge back into the system of technology development. Consequently, Epstein argues that the conventional understanding of the relationship between disruptive military innovation and established military power is wrong; the most advanced military organizations typically have the greatest means not only to pursue disruptive innovation, but also to evaluate the implications of such innovation.
This is a good book; it’s an interesting book, and it breaks new ground on the role of intellectual property law and the defense industry while also contributing to the literature on military organizations and innovation. But this book ends up being about two different things; the development of naval doctrine in the early twentieth century in the RN and the USN, and the development of modern intellectual property law. There are some people that are interested in both of these things (me!), but that number is extremely limited. Many readers are going to find particular parts of the story intensely interesting, but will skip some of the other chapters. For my own part, I found the intellectual property angle much more interesting than the naval doctrine angle, although that’s likely because of the nature of my current project.
I can heartily recommend Torpedo, and indeed I suspect that scholars of the history of the modern military industrial complex will find it indispensible. At the same time, the transition between the two foci will be a struggle for a lot of readers.
There are sone diagrams of the Whitehead weapon, and there is more than a little history of the ealry production of the things by firms like Bliss, but that doesn't make up for the lack of historic context, and the poorly structured miilitary history included.
For a better reference source, check out the more recent book fron the Naval Institute Press on the topic. Still not perfect, but a lot more comprehensive, and costing in the same range.
Nice cover photo, however...
From a technology standpoint, the book did a nice job describing the early issues with propulsion, gyros, and angle control. My personal interest is in submarine warfare during WW2. While this book does not cover the WW2 time frame, it does a very good job describing the problems with setting up the industrial infrastructure needed to build state-of-the-art torpedoes. These problems led to the Torpedo Mark 14 debacle during WW2 - torpedoes built that wouldn't explode, exploded before hitting their targets, and ran too deep to hit their targets.
Top reviews from other countries
Although described as used, the book was in mint condition, arrived well pasked and on time.
A very detailed decription of the politics behind torpedoes but thin on technical decription.
The authoress being American there is a considerable amount of information about torpedose in the US.
Not recommended if the interest is how rather than why.