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Accessory to War  By  cover art

Accessory to War

By: Avis Lang, Neil deGrasse Tyson
Narrated by: Courtney B. Vance, Neil deGrasse Tyson - introduction
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Publisher's summary

New York Times Bestseller

An exploration of the age-old complicity between skywatchers and warfighters, from the best-selling author of
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.

In this fascinating foray into the centuries-old relationship between science and military power, acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and writer-researcher Avis Lang examine how the methods and tools of astrophysics have been enlisted in the service of war. "The overlap is strong, and the knowledge flows in both directions," say the authors, because astrophysicists and military planners care about many of the same things: multi-spectral detection, ranging, tracking, imaging, high ground, nuclear fusion, and access to space. Tyson and Lang call it a "curiously complicit" alliance.

"The universe is both the ultimate frontier and the highest of high grounds," they write. "Shared by both space scientists and space warriors, it’s a laboratory for one and a battlefield for the other. The explorer wants to understand it; the soldier wants to dominate it. But without the right technology—which is more or less the same technology for both parties—nobody can get to it, operate in it, scrutinize it, dominate it, or use it to their advantage and someone else’s disadvantage."

Spanning early celestial navigation to satellite-enabled warfare, Accessory to War is a richly researched and provocative examination of the intersection of science, technology, industry, and power that will introduce Tyson’s millions of fans to yet another dimension of how the universe has shaped our lives and our world.

©2018 Neil deGrasse Tyson and Avis Lang (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"Extraordinary....A feast of history, an expert tour through thousands of years of war and conquest....Condenses multiple bodies of work into one important, comprehensive and coherent story of the symbiotic developments of astrophysics and war....The lesson is not merely a wake-up call for astrophysicists, but for all of us, for anyone with the misapprehension that science somehow marches on separate from the rest of culture."—Jennifer Carson, New York Times Book Review

"Through ample research and nimble storytelling, Tyson and [Lang] trace the long and tangled relationship between state power and astronomy....Deep and eloquent."—Joshua Sokol, Washington Post

"Fascinating....Retells the history of space exploration, and of the Cold War, excelling in bringing forth the entangled advances of science and military interests....The book’s message rings like a wake-up call."—Marcelo Gleiser, NPR

Featured Article: The 20 Best Military Audiobooks from History to Fiction and Beyond


The titles that fall under the designation of military audiobooks are more varied and diverse than you might think. From firsthand combat accounts to imaginative works of fiction, these listens cover a lot of ground on both domestic and international disputes, scientific and sociological analyses, male and female perspectives, lessons from victory and loss, and more. What they have in common, though, are themes of courage, loss, and determination.

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