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Fifty Weapons That Changed the Course of History

Overview

A beautifully presented guide to 50 weapons and their historical impact on civilization.

Fifty Weapons that Changed the Course of History is a fascinating guide to the arms and armaments that have had the greatest impact on the development of human civilization. Like the other titles in this series, the book organizes the weapons into brief illustrated chapters. Concise narratives describe the weapons, the "who, where, when, why and how" of their introduction and uses, and ...

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Overview

A beautifully presented guide to 50 weapons and their historical impact on civilization.

Fifty Weapons that Changed the Course of History is a fascinating guide to the arms and armaments that have had the greatest impact on the development of human civilization. Like the other titles in this series, the book organizes the weapons into brief illustrated chapters. Concise narratives describe the weapons, the "who, where, when, why and how" of their introduction and uses, and explain their influence in one or more of four categories -- Social, Political, Tactical, and Technological.

The stories span human history, from our hunter-gatherer ancestors who devised the spear and the wheel, which brought about the war chariot, to gunpowder, which democratized warfare and has been the basis for almost every weapon used in war from that point on.

Entries include:

  • The longbow, which led an outnumbered English army to a famous victory at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415
  • The Soviet T-34, the most effective and influential (in terms of design) tank to feature in World War II
  • The Tomahawk cruise missile, which revolutionized tactics in modern warfare
  • The Gatling Gun, the first rapid-repeating gun, which turned the tide in the Americans' favor during the Spanish-American War.

The saga of human civilization has been formed and scarred by conflict. Defining episodes of violence -- sometimes long and simmering, at other times sudden and cataclysmic -- have produced new forms of weaponry. Some of these have been decisive, such as the terrifying war elephants deployed by Hannibal at the battle of Cannae in 216 B.C. Others have become iconic in our culture. Chief among these is the easily copied AK-47, at first the symbol of communism and now of terrorism, and the most widely found firearm in the world. Some weapons have been definitive in their simplicity, such as the bayonet; in other cases, such as the Tomahawk cruise missile, the sheer complexity is dazzling.

Fifty Weapons That Changed the Course of History tells the story of the last 3,500 years through the arms and armaments that have shaped it. This is the story of the weapons that formed our world, and is sure to attract a wide readership.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/17/2014
This book reviews the role of military technology in human history through an examination of fifty weapons that had a significant impact on the art of warfare, as well as wider social and political implications. Levy, an author and journalist who specializes in science and history (A Bee in a Cathedral), describes military devices and implements in encyclopedic-style entries in which he discusses their origin, technical aspects, and their importance in the battlefield. Each entry is placed in a social, political, tactical, or technical category that outlines the ways the course of history was affected by the use of weapon, and is supplemented with historical illustrations, photographs, and sometimes with diagrams representing the anatomy of weapons and their key features. The choice of topics reflects the personal preferences of the author and his inconsistent interpretation of the term "weapon." Readers may be surprised by the inclusion of smallpox, as a "deliberate form of biological warfare" used by Spaniards against the Aztec, and by the absence of carronade, Naval mines, and torpedoes. The book is well-suited to satisfy the curiosity of history buffs interested in weaponry. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781770854260
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 9/30/2014
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 931,789
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Joel Levy is a writer and journalist specializing in history and science. He is the author of more than a dozen books, and has also written features and articles for newspapers and magazines. He is the author of A Bee in a Cathedral.

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