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Military science: Masters of war

by David Kaiser

On 4 October 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite. Four months later, the United States kick-started a new venture: the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Nestled within the Pentagon, just steps from the office of defence secretary Neil McElroy, ARPA was the nation’s first space agency. But its writ was much broader. As Sharon Weinberger describes in her fascinating and absorbing history The Imagineers of War, this team of experts was tasked with anticipating “the unimagined weapons of the future”. Weinberger’s account, based on extensive and meticulous research, reveals surprising twists in the recent history of the age-old entanglement between knowledge and power…

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