SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History of Darpa, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency

Little, Brown. Sept. 2015. 560. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780316371766. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780316371650. HIST
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Science is often viewed as a way for humanity to improve. However, in journalist Jacobsen's (Operation Paperclip) latest, it is directed at winning war—arguably humanity's cruelest facet. The author has methodically written the history of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), from its inception at the height of the atomic era in 1958 to the present. Her sources include countless archival materials, such as government documents and interviews. The author delves into how the success of DARPA rises and falls with America's military prowess, and how the technologies the agency has created affect daily life, from the Internet to global positioning systems (GPS). This technology is vastly overshadowed by the creation of biological, nuclear, and data mining operations—which receive much attention within this book. Jacobsen's account will serve as the model for histories of military research and development and is likely to lead to more works and articles about DARPA.
VERDICT This engrossing, conversation-starting read is highly recommended for policymakers, historians, scientists, and others who study technology's implications. It will complement Jonathon Moreno's Mind Wars and Sarah Bridger's Scientists at War. [See Prepub Alert, 3/23/15.]

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