Reviews elsewhere on the web:
PopularScience
ABC Western Australia

Michael White

The Fruits of War

When reading this book one sees that virtually all technology had an origin which was linked to military purposes. And that's the problem - the subject area is much too wide, and ends up as a general history of technology. White is a skilled writer, and the result is a lot more readable than most history of technology books, but on the whole I found it uninspiring. I think it would be most useful for anyone looking for a subject to write about - you could find one thing that interested you and then follow it up using the references at the end of the book.

The book would also be useful as a source of quotes of how people have underestimated the possibilities of new technologies - for instance in 1901 Wibur Wright predicted that man would not fly for 50 years, and in 1920 the New York Times stated that rockets would not work beyond the atmosphere (they published a correction in 1969). It also interesting to find out about how new weapons could change the balance of power between established rulers and small groups which challenge them. However, I didn't think that these individual points of note were sufficient to maintain the interest of the reader throughout this longish book.

Amazon.com info
Hardcover 384 pages  
ISBN: 0743220242
Salesrank: 6030539
Weight:1.41 lbs
Published: 2005 Simon & Schuster Ltd
Marketplace:New from $34.00:Used from $1.97
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Amazon.co.uk info
Hardcover 384 pages  
ISBN: 0743220242
Salesrank: 3029310
Weight:1.41 lbs
Published: 2005 Simon & Schuster Ltd
Marketplace:New from £35.00:Used from £0.01
Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.ca info
Hardcover
ISBN: 0743220242
Salesrank:
Weight:1.41 lbs
Published: 2005 SIMON & SCHUSTER LTD
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 90.08:Used from CDN$ 13.46
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Product Description
Since man first wielded a stick in anger, war and conflict have been prime movers in the progress of science and technology. In our earliest days the impetus may have been as simple as protecting territory or a food supply; more recently science has benefited from massive injections of cash when national security is at stake. But as Michael White demonstrates in this superbly wide-ranging and brilliant history of innovation, almost all major technological developments can be traced back to times of war. From the arrow to nuclear power; from cuneiform to the credit card; from the chariot to the bullet train and from the tribal drum to the Internet, our creativity owes much to the destructiveness of our nature. Accessible, thought-provoking and chock-full of fascinating facts, THE FRUITS OF WAR is a superb history of science and innovation that shows how the best of humanity often flows from its worst.