Cover: Rational Fog: Science and Technology in Modern War, from Harvard University PressCover: Rational Fog in HARDCOVER

Rational Fog

Science and Technology in Modern War

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$46.00 • £40.95 • €41.95

ISBN 9780674919181

Publication Date: 09/15/2020


296 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

23 photos


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Lindee has not written a typical monograph on the relationship between science and warfare. Rational Fog is a long essay on the systematic relation between the growth of scientific knowledge and violence and an insightful reflection on the ultimate consequences of this closeness… A book for all those intrigued—and let’s be honest, who is not, right now?—by the daily paradox of the achievements of science and technology, which simultaneously threaten and open possibilities for the Earth and humankind.—Edna Suárez-Díaz, Isis

Rational Fog demonstrates that [scientists’] expertise is remarkably effective when combined with militaristic goals… One may doubt the ‘science’ of climate change or vaccines, but the power of science is displayed every time a drone carries out a remote strike, a jet breaks the sound barrier, or a nuclear warhead ‘explodes’ inside of a computer simulation. It may be inconvenient, but those truths are neither nebulous nor negligible. They are lethal.—W. Patrick McCray, The Los Angeles Review of Books

Lindee…begins her study of technoscientific warfare by observing that the eroticism of modern weaponry has mesmerized the public… Lindee’s plainest ambition in Rational Fog consists in what she calls an ‘audit’ of the key moments in history when science was regrettably appropriated for warfare. Her unflinching examination abrades a naïve picture of science…as ‘uniquely neutral, universalistic, and benevolent…a calling, not a profession.’—Trevor Quirk, Virginia Quarterly Review

Offers the reader a journey through some of the most prominent examples of the ambivalent achievements of human scientific and engineering ingenuity: machines and technical and organic systems of destruction… Casts the history of modern scientific expertise as a process of groping in the fog of war… Lindee goes on to offer a set of arguments to bolster her call for opposition to the militarization of technoscience.—Egle Rindzeviciute, H-Diplo Reviews

There is a voluminous literature on science, technology, and warfare, but most of it focuses on a particular science, a particular technology, or a particular war. In this ambitious, synthetic work, M. Susan Lindee explores the relationship between technical knowledge and violence across a wide historical expanse. A highly original and fascinating book.—Naomi Oreskes, author of Why Trust Science?

This book brilliantly illuminates how the ‘fog of war’ creeps beyond the battlefield, engulfing the collaborative and analytical systems of scientists and engineers in the production of weapon systems for the modern age.—Robert Jacobs, Hiroshima Peace Institute

This fascinating book compels us to reckon with how science has been developed and directed by the military—and how scientific knowledge and technology underlie the ghastly deadliness of modern warfare, from gunshot wounds to the atomic bomb. M. Susan Lindee presents the coupling of science to the defense state as integral and systemic, not a matter of a few bad actors or the corruption of research. Vital reading.—Angela N. H. Creager, author of Life Atomic: A History of Radioisotopes in Science and Medicine

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