Review: Accessory to War

Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military

Neil deGrasse Tyson & Avis Lang

Publisher: W. W. Norton Company
Publication date: 11-Sep-2018
Date Started: 24-Oct-2018
Date Finished: 8-Jan-2019
Format: Audiobook
Pages: 576
Genres: Nonfiction, Science, History, War
ISBN: 9780393064445
Source: Audible


“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.”



This book was a trial to get through. While fascinating at times, this information dense tome oftentimes went in one ear and out the other.

The main topic, in this massive book, covers the often tangled history of scientific discovery and warfare. Starting with the telescope, this book covered centuries of scientific discoveries and creations and their use in war. Tyson even included many current topics like the current administration’s views on science.

This book was have been impossible for me to get through it I had not been listening to the audiobook. Reading the text myself could have easily put me to sleep.

I do recommend this book, but ONLY to those with an interest in either warfare or astrophysics (or both).

About the Author

“Neil deGrasse Tyson was born and raised in New York City where he was educated in the public schools clear through his graduation from the Bronx High School of Science. Tyson went on to earn his BA in Physics from Harvard and his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia.

Tyson’s professional research interests are broad, but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way. Tyson obtains his data from the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as from telescopes in California, New Mexico, Arizona, and in the Andes Mountains of Chile.”


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