Friday, 15 March 2013

Of Men and Arms - Robert L O'Connell

Title: Of Men and Arms
Author: Robert L O’Connell
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Pages: 367

Content: Conflict has always been a significant theme running throughout human history. Mr O’Connell’s book addresses the challenging interface between culture, weapons technology and warfare.  Specifically, he looks at the irrationality within that relationship, the frequently disastrous lag of culture (and therefore politics) behind military technology and the effectiveness of arms limitation agreements in reducing potential damage. His narrative, ranging from prehistoric times to the nuclear age, demonstrates how social and economic conditions determine the types and tactics employed in warfare and how, in turn, these innovations often undercut social values. He goes further in identifying how weapons (such as the machine gun and ultimately the atomic bomb) have made human qualities traditionally associated with combat (such as leadership, valour and mercy) irrelevant in combat. An excellent read and study into the interplay between the human psyche and the advent of technology.

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