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Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military
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Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  761 ratings  ·  125 reviews
In this fascinating foray into the centuries-old relationship between science and military power, acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and writer-researcher Avis Lang examine how the methods and tools of astrophysics have been enlisted in the service of war. "The overlap is strong, and the knowledge flows in both directions," say the authors, because astrophysicist ...more
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published September 11th 2018 by W. W. Norton Company
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Brandon Forsyth
Jul 23, 2018 rated it liked it
An alternate (and, arguably, better) title for this could be THE HISTORY OF ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN LESS OF A HURRY, and it's just as fascinating and richly observed as Mr. Degrasse Tyson's slimmer volume from last year. Unfortunately, there's also a very long section in the middle that feels like an exhaustive attempt to find every UN declaration ever made about the use of outer space, and it really bogs down what has, up until that point, been a rollicking adventure through the ages. It's a ...more
"Many significant advances in our understanding of the cosmos are by-products of government investment in the apparatus of warfare, and many innovative instruments of destruction are by-products of advances in astrophysics."
Neil deGrasse Tyson expands on this statement by leaps and bounds in his book: Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military. With almost 600 pages and nearly 19 hours via audio, Accessory to War is a mixture of science, history, education
Jon Stone
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. For anyone interested in the linkage between the missions of science and warfighting, this book is for you. I feel like I can tell the pages written by Dr. Tyson, and those written by Avis Lang. That may sound negative, but it’s not. I think the humor and perspective of Dr. Tyson comes through more with the contrast. Anyone interested in the early days of space (both military and civil) should give this a r ...more
Science (Fiction) Comedy Horror and Fantasy Geek/Nerd
The dawn of the emergence (the United States Space Force and similar programs of other states) of the scientific military astrophysical complex of the space industry.

Please note that I have put the original German text to the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.

It does not matter if a military doctrine is defensive and deterrent or offensive. Both variants have immense escalation potential.

Economic constraints decide on the research priorities. And the entire annual budget for as
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
After wading through the pages of medieval history, old rudimentary inventions like longitude, and the CNN opinion-like pages of anger at the American military, you got like five pages on the actual weapons of space and some information about a space war.

The advertising and naming of this book was a smoke screen. It was 50% venting about how terrible we are as humans because we engage in war and spend money on it (which if you look at history, at least 50% of all nations energy went towards figh
Sirius Scientist
A detailed account of the impact of specific sciences on military advancement and the resulting outcomes. Heavy on the military angle--for those who think this is going to be another popular physics book. This is not a deep dive into the theory of various physics and engineering disciplines, but instead a meshing of where funding comes from, politics, how projects are prioritized, what this prioritization does to science advancement on the global scale, how current events shape the ideals of the ...more
Amanda Van Parys
I enjoyed this book and I'm still confused as to why the title is "The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military" when it was more like "Space and the Military." Overall, I can see the relationship, but specifically, I mostly didn't see the relationship because it felt like astrophysics itself was barely explained. However, I am not an astrophysicist and possess a bare minimum of scientific knowledge and in all honesty I'm operating at about 3% of the brain capacity of Neil deGrass ...more
Cathy Hodge
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, text-book level amount of history about scientific innovations and military advancements. Space, data, and the new "High-ground." I liked how this book had global information and did NOT just focus on American history and American scientific research. It was a bit like learning how sausage is made...… not pleasant to see the political machine at work... but necessary to get the research off the ground. What will be next on the great frontier?
Roger Smitter
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book needs to be read by every congressperson and their advisors as well as every college faculty member. At the same time, every college/university physicist should read explain this book to every social science and humanities faculty member.

deGrasse Tyson challenges us — in a very accessible way — to understand how humans have made war increasingly dangerous not just for the combatants but also the rest of us. He tells us how war has also been connected to the tools of physics. He doesn’
Peter Mcloughlin
Armies and Navies and militaries, in general, have depended on science for most of history. Astronomy is no exception. The symbiosis between Astronomy comes in the form of navigation technologies and sensing and detection. Be it navigating by the stars, using a telescope to survey a landscape on the grounds or the heavens, or using light unseen by ordinary eyes to peer into the skies or detect a foe. Tyson goes over the many intersections between astronomy and warfare. Goes to show that almost a ...more
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-related
This is fantastic look at the history of astrophysics and its intersection with warming, much more thorough and well-sourced than most of Dr. Tyson's writing. It's aimed at an audience that wants to get into the weeds, so not those in a hurry.

The first few chapters were interesting, but mostly in the realm of things I had heard before. The message came across as: "Psst, some technologies developed for war are also useful in science and vice versa". Not exactly earth-shattering. The technologies
Ben Vogel
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
More promising in the title than the content delivered. I heard Dr. Tyson talking about his book on Joe Rogan's podcast and decided to read the book. Unfortunately NdGT was more entertaining and informative in those 2 hours of interview than in this book, which focused more on geopolitics than it did on the connections between science, military, and astrophysics. More like an infield hit off the dirt than the double off the wall that I was hoping for.
John Munro
Sep 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Needs to be organized a bit better. Too much chronological jumping around. Otherwise an interesting read.
Nov 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I mean, it was fun reading, and I’m quite sure I learned a lot. But, science and ‘warfighting’ (apparently, this is a word now) feed off each other? Not exactly a revelation. The best thing about this book was imagining Neil’s voice, sharing it in 5-minute chunks on ‘Startalk.’
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book fascinating! I especially liked the parts towards the beginning that went into the evolution of certain game-changing technologies (such as telescopes).

If you have any interest in the history of technology and science, or in the politics of space, you should definitely pick this book up!
Dan Graser
Oct 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
While many will already be familiar with the ties between biology, chemistry, and particle physics and their regrettable uses in military hardware, less explored has been the tie between astronomers/astrophysics and their history with governmental agencies and the military industrial complex. This large work from Neil deGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang is an in-depth exploration of that connection, beginning before astronomy/astrophysics was even a discipline, starting with the earliest tools used to ...more
Faisal X
Oct 14, 2018 rated it liked it
الفلكي المعروف بكتبه الجميلة وبساطة أسلوبه حتى يتسنى للشخص الغير المختص أن يستمتع بهذا العلم نقل لنا علاقة الفلكي بالحروب والالات الحربية بقصص واراء ونظريات وشرح هذه النظريات المساعدة في بناء الالة العسكرية وعلاقة علم الفلك والصناعة الفضائية بالحروب الحديثة بقصص يرويها عن نفسه وعن اصدقاء المجال نفسه في اجتماعاتهم ومدى تأثير هذه العلاقة على مستقبل أمريكا وأهمية العلم في بناء دولته
Mark Lawry
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
I'm a huge admirer of Tyson so I really hate to report that this book is all over the place. Perhaps a better title would be What Scientists and Others Have Done to End War. He could have even added a few 100 pages on how scientific discoveries found in developing weapons have been converted to civilian applications to improve our lives. In fact, I'm sure just this book has been written many times by many people. Reading this you'll learn a lot about how sailors navigated by the stars over the c ...more
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good history of the topic

Astrophysics and war. That's all there is to say; one feeds the other and vice versa. I was convinced after the first chapter.
Jordan Kramer
Oct 19, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a tough book to get through. It has too many acronyms and too much jargon; however, despite at times reading like dissertation, it contains some gems such as “Scientists’ urge to collaborate transcends religion, culture, and politics, because in space there is no religion, culture, or politics— only the receding boundary of our ignorance and the advancing frontier of our cosmic discovery.”
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
Lupine Smile
Oct 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Some interesting parts but far too long winded and not enough science for my taste. The book could not decide if it was a work on science or the philosophical reasoning for war. Never really found its footing.
Bill Zarges
Oct 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Very detailed discussion---more than one ever wanted to know. I prefer Dr. Tyson when he's more to the point. This book was like reading a dissertation.....
Gina Terada
Oct 18, 2018 rated it liked it
There were parts of this book I really enjoyed. Others were grueling slogs through 1000 military organizations abbreviated names. It’s a pity because the stories in this book are truly fascinating I just feel they could be told with a little more brevity than endless lists.
Brian Mikołajczyk
"Space exploration may pull in the talent, but war pays the bills." -Neil deGrasse Tyson

Tyson surveys the history of various inventions (e.g. telescope, missile, compass, GPS, etc.) and pens the story of how the military influenced the advent of them. The history is interesting. He opens the book with an anecdote about his personal career in which he found out some of his work would be used towards a military purpose wanting to quit the post, however upon historical reflection, he realized this
Lance Johnson
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was incredibly disappointed by this book, and while some parts of it could be called ‘decent’ it was not what it was advertised to be. I picked this book up primarily due to it having Neil deGrasse Tyson’s name on the cover, having enjoyed most of his other books previously, but also due to my interest in the book’s topic. The book mostly lacked Tyson’s typical optimistic wonder nor did it stick to the topic on the cover. I got the feeling that this book never quite figured out what it wanted ...more
Daniel Kukwa
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
There is something frustrating about the organization of this book. It's packed with excellent scholarship and research, and many of the sections I thoroughly enjoyed...but only in isolation. Together they simply don't seem to cohere comfortably: a history of scientific advances, a section on nuclear weapons history, and then a final section that features an attempt to tie everything together. It's a useful, productive read...but in the end, not as enjoyable and relaxing an experience as I thoug ...more
Russ Szelag
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was very disappointed with this. It reads like a term paper. I doubt that Tyson wrote much of this. The authors fill numerous pages with mundane information, such as how spyglasses were useful in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Ashley W.
it was a good book
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Well, that was depressing. I'm going to have a book hangover from this one for days. But this is an important book that you should consider reading/listening to.

In this book, Tyson explores the history of the relationship between astrophysics and military might, as well as its current relationship. There has been a relationship between astrophysics and military use of that knowledge since recorded time began. In our country's astrophysics history, you would have to look hard to find an instance
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Neil deGrasse Tyson was born and raised in New York City where he was educated in the public schools clear through his graduation from the Bronx High School of Science. Tyson went on to earn his BA in Physics from Harvard and his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia.

Tyson's professional research interests are broad, but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our
“America may be losing a competitive edge in many enterprises, from cars to space, riffed National Public Radio host Scott Simon in the summer of 2010, "but as long as we can devise a five-bladed, mineral-oil-saturated razor, we face the future well-shaved.” 0 likes
“The relationship between physics and war is clear: the ruler and the general want to threaten or obliterate targets; destruction requires energy; the physicist is the expert on matter, motion, and energy. It's the physicist who invents the bomb. But to destroy a target, you have to locate it precisely, identify it accurately, and track it as it moves. That's where astrophysics comes in. Neither protagonists nor accomplices, astrophysicists are accessories to war. We don't design the bombs. We don't make the bombs. We don't calculate the damage a bomb will wreak. Instead, we calculate how stars in our galaxy self-destruct through thermonuclear explosions – calculations that may prove helpful to those who do design and make thermonuclear bombs.” 0 likes
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