Category Archives: Defense Reading Program

Review: Rescuing Prometheus: Four Monumental Projects That Changed the Modern World


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Author(s): Thomas P. Hughes

Publisher: Vintage Books

Copyright Date: 1998

ISBN: 978-0679739388

Hard/Softcover: Both, 372 pages

Reviewed by: Dr. Alexander H. Levis
Dr. Levis is head of System Architectures Laboratory, George Mason University

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Review: Agents of Innovation: The General Board and the Design of the Fleet That Defeated the Japanese Navy


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ARJ-68-book-reviewAuthor(s): John T. Kuehn

Publisher: Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland

Copyright Date: 2008

ISBN-10: 1591144485
ISBN-13: 978-1591144489

Hard/Softcover: Hardcover, 296 pages

Reviewed by: Robert G. “Bob” Keane
Mr. Keane is currently the President of Ship Design USA, Inc.

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Review: Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the Twenty-first Century

In his 2009 book Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the Twenty-first Century, P.W. Singer answers a plethora of technological questions generated by the complexities of digital warfare—questions to which answers have become increasingly vital for the acquisition professional as well as the warfighter on the battlefield. Citing films such as “The Matrix” and “A.I.” in comparison, Singer illustrates the very real use of robotics in modern warfare, and to what extent such technologies might be used to meet an existing or perceived threat. Leveraging his knowledge and background as both a robotics enthusiast and a researcher of private military firms, Singer describes how the robotics industry and the government are squaring-off on the battlefield and beyond. From war tactics and lasers, to super-bots and artificial limb construction, Singer takes his readers on a guided tour of the artificial intelligence industry and neatly points out the pros and cons of how society interacts with machines.

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Review: The Visible Hand

Alfred Chandler’s The Visible Hand contributes significant insights into the historic evolution of the large-scale business enterprise and modern managerial capabilities. This has important implications in understanding how key business functions that are located in smaller business enterprises can be combined to form multiunit business enterprises, which, in turn, can be applied to the defense industry in several ways. First, the historical perspectives in the book can help in assessing whether key functions should be outsourced by the Pentagon or conducted internally. Second, the historical lessons can assist in exploring whether defense companies should outsource activities to smaller firms or whether they should internalize the activities and expand the size and scope of their corporate structure.

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Review: A Fiery Peace in a Cold War

a-fiery-peace-bookWith an attention to detail seldom encountered, coupled with penetrating psychological explorations into the minds and motives of many of those involved, Pulitzer prize winning author Neil Sheehan provides a comprehensive look at the Cold War development of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), written around the story of the life and career of Gen. Bernard Schriever, commander of the Air Force Systems Command, the brilliant man who brought the ICBM to life. He does this while exploring the birth of the United States Air Force and the formation of the Strategic Air Command. The importance of the ICBM among U.S. weapon systems, and how the people involved came together to give it birth, is masterfully recounted.

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Review: Engineers of Victory: The Problem Solvers Who Turned the Tide in the Second World War

arj69-bookPaul Kennedy’s Engineers of Victory offers a nuanced, multicausal explanation for the outcome of World War II. Across five lengthy chapters, the author identifies what he considers the key decisions, battles, technological advances, and operational achievements that account for ultimate victory against Germany and Japan. Each chapter focuses on a different major operational challenge the Allies had to overcome to turn the tide of World War II in their favor: halting the U-boat menace to ensure safe passage for supplies and troops across the Atlantic; knocking out the Luftwaffe to gain control over the skies of Germany; countering the Wehrmacht’s Blitzkrieg (“lightening war”) strategy to reverse German advances on the Eastern Front; seizing an enemy-held shore in the Normandy invasion to open up the Western Front; and fighting across a great expanse—the Central Pacific—to reach Japan and destroy its war-making capabilities.

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To Engineer Is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design


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arj-76-book-reviewAuthor: Henry Petroski

Publisher: Vintage

Copyright Date: 1992

Hard/Softcover/Digital: Softcover, 272 pages, http://www.amazon.com/To-Engineer-Is-Human-Successful/dp/0679734163

ISBN-10: 0679734163

ISBN-13: 978-0679734161

Reviewed by: Henry Petroski, professor of Civil Engineering and History, Duke University

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Book Reviews Index

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Book Review: Engineering the F-4 Phantom II: Parts Into Systems


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arj73-bookAuthor: Glenn E. Bugos

Publisher: Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press

Copyright Date: 1996

Hard/Softcover/Digital: Hardcover, 258 pages, http://www.amazon.com/Engineering-F-4-Phantom-II-Systems/dp/1557500894

Reviewed by: Lee Vinsel, Program on Science and Technology Studies, Stevens Institute
of Technology
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