Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Instruments of War: Weapons and Technologies That Have Changed History

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Instruments of War: Weapons and Technologies That Have Changed History

Article excerpt

Instruments of War: Weapons and Technologies That Have Changed History. By Spencer C. Tucker. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2015. 428 p. Acid free. $89.00. (ISBN 978-1-4408-3654-1). E-Book available (978-1-4408-36558), call for pricing.

Experienced reference librarians will immediately recognize the byline of Spencer Tucker, one of our nation's preeminent military historians. Having written or edited more than fifty books covering numerous aspects of this subject, his name on the cover may well be considered an imprimatur of authority and solid scholarship.

This latest tome from his prolific pen is essentially a catalog of weapons in all their deadly and destructive variety. Entries are encyclopedic in nature, giving the researcher a concise yet informative snapshot of the who, what, where, when, and why of everything from the aircraft of World War I to the Yamato-class battleships of the Japanese Navy. Interestingly, Tucker has opted for a chronological arrangement, which has the advantage of showing how weapons have evolved over time. Therefore handheld items such as the club, spear, sword, etc., make up the initial articles, giving way to those regarding mechanical means (crossbow, catapult), through chemical (poison gas), electronic (sonar, radar) and so on, up to the ultimate destructive force of nuclear fission/fusion (atomic and hydrogen bombs, respectively). Tucker discusses the impetus for creating this listing in his Introduction, noting that "Weapons can have a profound impact on society" (xxi), as when the invention of gunpowder spelled the end of the knight and his age of chivalry. …

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