Throwing Fire: Projectile Technology through History

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
$24.29
Buy Used
Buy Used from BN.com
$17.40
(Save 35%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $2.37
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 91%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (24) from $2.37   
  • New (12) from $13.44   
  • Used (12) from $2.37   

Overview

In Throwing Fire, historian Alfred W. Crosby looks at hard, accurate throwing and the manipulation of fire as unique human capabilities. Humans began throwing rocks in prehistory and then progressed to javelins, atlatls, bows and arrows. We learned to make fire by friction and used it to cook, drive game, burn out rivals, and alter landscapes to our liking. Our exploitation of these two capabilities figured in the extinction of many species, and may have played a role in the demise of Neanderthals. In historic times we invented catapults, trebuchets, and such flammable liquids as Greek Fire, a napalm-like substance that stuck to whatever it hit and could not be extinguished with water. About 1,000 years ago we invented gunpowder, which led to guns and rockets, enabling us to literally throw fire. Gunpowder weaponry accelerated the rise of empires and the advance of European imperialism. In the 20th century, gunpowder weaponry enabled us to achieve unprecedented mayhem -- the most destructive wars of all time. This trend peaked at the end of World War II with the V-2 and atomic bomb, at which point species suicide became possible. Faced with possible extinction should we experience World War III, we have turned our projectile talents to space travel which may make it possible for our species to migrate to other bodies of our solar system and even other star systems.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Crosby (American studies, history, and geography, U. of Texas-Austin) begins with the Pliocene, when the Australopithecines seem first to have walked upright and so potentially could throw things more easily than their primarily quadruped relatives. He brings the story up to the throwing of spaceships at other celestial bodies. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher
"Crosby's new book is another home run, worthy of its predecessors..." The International History Review

"Alfred Crosby is deservedly famous as an environmental historian and entertaining writer. In this book he does it again, telling us all about projectiles from the time of our ape origins up to the Space Age. Having read this book, you will understand history, and you will also have the most interesting stories to relate at cocktail parties." Jared M. Diamond

"Alfred Crosby has applied his inimitable wit to two human traits, our capacities for throwing and burning, to track the history of the species. An enjoyable and provocative essay." Stephen Pyne, Arizona State University

"This is a delightful little book...[readers] who are interested in man's interaction with technology will find Crosby's arguments attractive." Air Power History

"Even if experts are likely to find little that is new, they may well benefit by looking at familiar material from the fresh angles that Crosby suggests." Barton C. Hacker Technology and Culture

"Well-written and fascinating throughout, the book is particularly instructive in linking developments in prehistory with those in more recent times." Journal of World History, Jeremy Black, University of Exeter

"Entertaining..." Wisconsin State Journal

"...an impressive and thought provoking work..." -J. Furman Daniel, III, StrategyWorld

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521156318
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 8/6/2010
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 218
  • Sales rank: 1,412,988
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Alfred W. Crosby is Professor Emeritus in American Studies, History, and Geography at the University of Texas, Austin, where he taught for more than 20 years. His previous books include Ecological Imperialism (2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, 2004), America's Forgotten Pandemic: The Influence of 1918 (2nd edition, Cambridge University Press, 2003), and The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society, 1250-1600 (Cambridge University Press, 1997). The Measure of Reality was chosen by the Los Angeles Times as one of the 100 most important books of 1997.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface
Who, Why, and How 1
1 The Pliocene: Something New Is Afoot 7
The First Acceleration: Hominids Become a Keystone Species and Their Own Worst Enemies 15
2 The Pliocene and Pleistocene: "You Are What You Throw" 16
3 The Pleistocene and Holocene: "Cooking the Earth" 40
4 The Upper Paleolithic: "Humans and Other Catastrophes" 50
5 From Weapon Craftsmanship to Weapon Technology 70
The Second Acceleration: Gunpowder 93
6 The Chinese Elixir 95
7 Gunpowder as a Centripetal Force 107
8 Brown Bess to Big Bertha 130
The Third Acceleration: Into Extraterrestrial and Subatomic Space 147
9 The V-2 and the Bomb 149
10 The Longest Throws 173
The Fourth Acceleration 191
Index 201
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2002

    Fair, too vague

    It was a quick read, overall I found it too shallow. The first half was pretty interesting and I would have liked to see that expanded. The second half of the book tried to cover way too much in a book of any length, much less one only 220 pages long.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)