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The Sociology of Science, Technology and the Military: Machinery of War

Study of people and machines

Machinery of War

A highly selective bibliography of resources available through Princeton catalogs

The Sociology of Science, Technology and the Military

  The Machinery of War:  Perfecting Our Weapons.

“My dynamite will sooner lead to peace than a thousand world conventions. As soon as men will find that in one instant, whole armies can be utterly destroyed, they surely will abide by golden peace.”  Alfred Nobel, (1867.)

“We have perfected our weapons, our conscience has fallen asleep, and we have sharpened our ideas to justify ourselves. Violence and war lead only to death.”   Pope Francis, (2016.)

Over recorded history, technological advances in the Art of War have occurred at an accelerating pace.  In the tenth century, Norse swords forged from steel brought over long cavern routes from Asian foundries seemed magical as an advancement over the usual iron weapons of the day.  In the American Civil War, the first automatic weapon, the Gatling Gun, was so devastating that Gatling himself – its inventor -  thought simply having it would be so terrible as to cause war to cease.  And in the twentieth century the atomic weapons brandished by the super powers of the day created a stalemate where neither side was willing to set them off.   As the 1983 film War Games, which developed a cult following among both doves and hawks of the Nuclear question opines, “The only winning move is not to play.”

Technological advances, making the battlefields ever more deadly, and has been so moving forward for as long as records exist.   Rules and even laws have also been developed for when and how and against whom these evolving weapons can be used, under the general category of “Rules of Engagement.”    Among the resources available through the Princeton University Library catalogs to explore various aspects of the development and use of mechanisms for waging war over a long while are the following.

Weapons of War

  • Aegean type sword and finds at Hattusa : technology, sources and dating of Trojan War, by Konstantinos Giannakos.Saarbrücken : LAP Lambert Academic Publishing, 2012. 280 pages : illustrations.(Classics Collection - CLAS) DF220.5 .G53 2012.
    Deals with the weapons of the Mycenaean Civilization in Turkey, (1600-1100 BCE.)

  • Autonomous weapons systems : law, ethics, policy, edited by Nehal Bhuta et al.New York : Cambridge University Press, 2016.410 pages.(F) KZ5645.5.A98 A98 2016.
    Deals with current and emerging weapons systems.

  • Bigger bombs for a brighter tomorrow : the Strategic Air Command and American war plans at the dawn of the atomic age, 1945-1950, by John M. Curatola.Jefferson, North Carolina : McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, [2016].228 pages : illustrations.(F) U264.3 .C87 2016.

  • Britain’s war machine : weapons, resources and experts in the Second World War, by David Edgerton.London : Penguin, 2012.4421 pages, illustrations, some color.(F) D759 .E44 2012.

  • British nuclear culture : official and unofficial narratives in the long 20th century / Jonathan Hogg.London ; New York : Bloomsbury Academic, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2016.231 pages.(F) UA647 .H66 2016.
    Contents:British nuclear culture: 1898-1945 -- Early responses to the bomb: 1945-1950 -- Maturing responses to the nuclear age: 1950-1963 -- Radicalized and realist nuclear culture: 1963-1975 -- ’Abused technology’: extreme realism, 1975-1989 -- Rendered invisible: the persistence of nuclear culture, 1990-2015 -- Conclusions: the nuclear century, 1898-2015.

  • The concept of military objectives in international law and targeting practice, by Agnieszka Jachec-Neale.London ; New York, NY : Routledge, 2015.294 pages.(F)KZ5624 .J33 2015
    Contents:Part I. The concept and definition of military objective -- The concept of military objective -- Nature, location, use and purpose -- Effective contribution to military action -- Definite military advantage -- Methods of achieving military advantage -- Problematic cases -- Part II. Operationalisation of the definition of military objective --Military doctrine and international law -- Problems of legal interoperability in relation to the identification of lawful targets.

  • A higher form of killing : six weeks in World War I that changed the nature of warfare forever, by Diana Preston.New York, NY : Bloomsbury Press, 2015.340 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps, portraits.(F) UF505.G3 P74 2015.
    “In six weeks during April and May 1915, as World War I escalated, Germany forever altered the way war would be fought with poison gas, torpedoes killing civilians, and aerial bombardment. Each of these actions violated rules of war carefully agreed at the Hague Conventions of 1898 and 1907. The era of weapons of mass destruction had dawned.”Catalog record.

  • Matchlocks to flintlocks : warfare in Europe and beyond, 1500-1700, by William Urban ; foreword by Dennis Showalter.London : Frontline Books, 2011.278 pages, 8 pages of plates, illustrations.(F) U43.E95 U733 2011.

  • Roll call to destiny : the soldier’s eye view of Civil War battles, by Brent Nosworthy.New York : Basic Books, c2008.342 pages ; illustrations, maps.(F) E470 .N67 2008.
    Deals with both weapons systems and tactics.

  • Scientists at war : the ethics of Cold War weapons research, by Sarah Bridger.Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 2015.350 pages.(F) Q125 .B728 2015.
    Contents:Prologue: the conscience of a physicist -- The Sputnik opportunity -- The moral case for a test ban -- The science of non-nuclear war -- Into the ethical hot pot -- Disaster and disillusionment in Vietnam -- Institutional reckonings at MIT -- The New Left assault on neutrality -- Collapse of the Sputnik order -- A united front against Star Wars -- Epilogue: science and ethics after the Cold War.

  • To kill nations : American strategy in the air-atomic age and the rise of mutually assured destruction, by Edward Kaplan.Ithaca ; London : Cornell University, 2015.260 pages : illustration. (F) UA23 .K344 2015.
    Covers the history of the US Strategic Air Command and the ever ready atomic weapons they carried

  • The Tower armoury in the fourteenth century, by Thom Richardson.Leeds : Royal Armouries Museum, 2016.254 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color). (DIXON) DA233 .R53 2016.

  • Unmanned : drone warfare and global security, by Ann Rogers and John Hill.Toronto : Between the Lines ; New York, NY : Pluto Press, 2014.Online through the Princeton Catalogs

  • Villainous compounds : chemical weapons and the American Civil War. by Guy R. Hasegawa ; foreword by Bill J. Gurley.Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press, [2015]. 182 pages : illustrations, map,(F) UG447 .H368 2015.

  • Warrior geeks : how 21st century technology is changing the way we fight and think about war, by Christopher Coker.New York : Oxford University Press, 2014.Online through the Princeton Catalogs.
    “Coker examines how technology is transforming the way we think about and fight war, taking three major changes that are driving this process: cybernetic technologies that are folding soldiers into a cybernetic system that will allow the military to read their thoughts and emotions, and mould them accordingly; the coexistence of men and robots in the battle-spaces of tomorrow; and the extent to which we may be able to re-engineer warriors through pharmacological manipulation.Catalog record