Fifty Weapons That Changed the Course of History

by Joel Levy

Firefly Books | September 11, 2014 | Hardcover

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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.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 224 pages, 9 × 6.75 × 0.88 in

Published: September 11, 2014

Publisher: Firefly Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1770854266

ISBN - 13: 9781770854260

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– More About This Product –

Fifty Weapons That Changed the Course of History

Fifty Weapons That Changed the Course of History

by Joel Levy

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 224 pages, 9 × 6.75 × 0.88 in

Published: September 11, 2014

Publisher: Firefly Books

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 1770854266

ISBN - 13: 9781770854260

Read from the Book

Introduction The supposed deathbed lament of John Napier, who protested that "for the ruin and overthrow of man, there were too many devices already framed," articulates a common distaste for the application of technological and scientific genius to the business of killing. (Napier's protestations ring hollow for the man himself, who was driven by sectarian antipathy to contrive a host of strange and terrible "devices for the ruin and overthrow of man," including "devices of sailing under the water. . . a closed and fortified carriage to bring arquebusiers into the midst of an enemy. . . [and] a kind of shot for artillery. . . calculated to clear a field of four miles' circumference of all living things above a foot in height: by it, he said, the inventor could destroy 30,000 Turks, without the hazard of a single Christian." From Domestic Annals of Scotland, Robert Chambers) Although this book is not intended as a glorification of warfare and killing, it celebrates the art and technology of weapons, and admires the creativity and ingenuity of weapon makers, ancient and modern, renowned and anonymous. Through an examination of 50 of the most significant weapons in history, it explores how technology has changed warfare, and by extension the rest of human history. War may not be the most important determinant of the course of history -- its degree of influence compared to, say, economy, geography, or individual actors, is subject to debate -- but clearly i
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Table of Contents

Contents

    Stone Ax
    Spear
    Bow and Arrow
    Atlatl/Spear-thrower
    Bronze Age Sword
    Horse and War Chariot
    Siege Engines
    Ballista
    Gladius
    Stirrups
    Greek Fire
    Medieval Sword
    Counterweight Trebuchet
    Medieval Crossbow
    Longbow
    Early Cannon
    Renaissance Pike
    Matchlock
    Smallpox (and Germ Warfare)
    Bayonet
    Flintlock
    Field Artillery
    Howitzer
    Needle Gun
    Breech-Loading Field Artillery
    Gatling Gun
    Maxim Machine Gun
    Short Magazine Lee-Enfield
    Lewis Gun
    Hand Grenade
    Poison Gas
    Mk I/IV Tank
    Thompson Submachine Gun
    Browning M2 Heavy Machine Gun
    M1 Garand
    T-34 Tank
    V Weapons
    Mk1 "Little Boy"Atom Bomb
    Kalashnikov AK-47
    Uzi
    M18A1 Claymore Antipersonnel Mine
    Intercontinental Ballistic Missile
    M16 Rifle
    RPG-7 Rocket Propelled Grenade Launcher
    M1 Abrams Tank
    BGM-109 Tomahawk Cruise Missile
    Smart Bomb
    Improvised Explosive Device (IED)
    Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Drones
    Robots

From the Publisher

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.

About 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.

by Joel Levy

Editorial Reviews

This clearly written, well-illustrated work conveys the evolution of weapons in shaping the history of warfare. Chronologically arranged four-page entries showcase the weapons, which span civilizations, beginning with the stone ax and concluding with the development of robots. The book includes the social and technical factors that brought each weapon to prominence in its time. The drawings (most in color) and photos add clarity to the advantages and disadvantages of each. The format, layout, and liveliness of the text enhance its readability. A list of further reading, useful websites, and an accurate index further the volume's usefulness. With its modest price, this book is recommended for a wide range of public, school, and academic libraries.