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Summary

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

"DeGrasse Tyson reads the introduction, and he does a terrific job. He has a silky, deep voice, and he paces himself well. He could credibly read the entire work himself, but instead he hands off the audiobook to Courtney B. Vance, whose voice is just as deep but more formal, even regal. Vance does a magnificent job continuing the story with a tone that supports Tyson and Lang's words. The result is an audiobook that speaks to all of us, even those who know little about astrophysics." (AudioFile)

"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)

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long chapters increase speed

struggled to finish. had to increase reading speed to avoid boredom. very long chapters which made it difficult to follow

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Not for me

As much as I love and respect Mr Tyson, this book was not for me. I listened many books including Neil Degrasse Tyson on Audible, and I enjoyed them all. But when I try to listen to this book, I keep catching myself wondering away. I think the language of this book is way too academic (try hard) and therefore I conclude that it wasn't written to average people like me, but to a few that like to masturbate over the most difficult parts of the English vocabulary. Maybe by talking difficult the writers try to overcompensate for a boring content.

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I liked it for a one time run through

hmmm it's ok gives a good historic story line but I'm constantly bugged by the continuous lists which keep getting reeled off which seed to drag on

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  • Morten N.
  • 28-01-20

This is NOT read by Tyson! Very misleading

This claims to be read by Tyson and one other person and the sound sample is by Tyson. However Tyson ONLY reads a short few minute intro, despite he's featured in the audio sample. This is incredibly misleading!

11 people found this helpful

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  • matt acosta
  • 02-07-20

A disappointment

This books is hard to stomach. Poorly researched, repetitive, and only lossy relevant to the title and description I recommend readers take a pass. The book is a political one and not one about the merger of science and military technology over time. In the first hour you will hear over and over again things such as how evil president bush and his administration were, how the us military commits atrocities....hear praise of saddam huessein’s rule, etc. I fully acknowledge I may have misunderstood I was buying a political opinion book....but nevertheless buyer beware.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Lori Graham
  • 14-06-20

Could be a book of lists

Almost unreadable… And I LOVE Neil deGrasse Tyson. This is so out of his normal storytelling voice. Painful to get through.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-05-20

very opinionated.

very opinionated. it had strings of amazing facts about war and astrophysics, then political rants based off his beliefs. really annoying and disappointing.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Kevin
  • 17-09-18

Inspiring, educational, patriotic.

Some reviewers claim this book's story is drawn out, perhaps too detailed. To a reader who just wants to experience a conventional Dr. Tyson book about rapid mind blowing space stuff, this book could leave you uninterested at times. However, as a reader who previously and desperately craved to learn about that connection between astronomy and the military, I could not have been more excited to read AND listen to this book. The stories about pivotal moments in history and the hidden heroes who were looking up deep into the sky really furthers my inspiration for serving my country in a way that, until this book, I was quite unsure was possible. I knew the military would be a good way to further one's career in space, but now I'm enlightened in that the military doesn't just empower a career in space, but deeply relies on those individuals for innovations to establish supremacy in the new frontiers of science. Thank you Dr. Tyson!

22 people found this helpful

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  • Fredric Orr
  • 10-08-20

Misleading Title

I just can't get the connection deGrasse is trying to make. He doesn't connect Astrophysics very well to the military

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  • the truth
  • 12-07-20

NOT NARRATED BY NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON

NOT NARRATED BY NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON it pains me to give this such a low score who ever Courtney B Vance is He shouldn’t be narrating books his voice is SOOOOOO boring I have a better appreciation of our military because of this book but I have no desire to listen to this again nor did I retain any information from it BORING AF

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  • Lucas Hicks
  • 04-03-20

Reality is not linear

Excellent commentary on the nonlinear and morally gray aspects of Human progress, and the necessity of such.

Tough imagery.

Solid performance.

Recommended

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  • John Bergmann MSM, CQE
  • 21-03-19

More political than I’d hoped

I was less informative on science than I expected. I’d say 50/50 on politics and science. I found the political bent made it hard to finish for me.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-10-18

A brilliant idea, auspicious beginning, and hurried, sloppy (outsourced?) ending.

I purchased an Amazon Audible to listen to in the car, and a hardcover book from Barnes and Noble. A book on the interplay between war and “astrophysics“ (and its precursors) is a brilliant idea. The first 6 chapters of the book is an interesting (at times captivating) account of scientific discovery “piggy-backing” on war and greed, and vice versa — and Tyson at his best. Well-researched and liberally annotated, the main storyline still shines through cleverly presented but unobtrusive historic facts and references. However, things go downhill towards the end of chapter 6 (in hardcover only - the Audible chapters are shorter). The Tysonian storyline gradually dries up, substituted with a suffocating swamp of decades-old bureaucratic correspondence and long-forgotten political analysis. I understand that this research material is relevant to the story, but there must still be a story! I wonder if after reading the last chapters 7 and 8 (chapter 9 is a sloppily written, hackneyed, and unfocused conclusion entitled “Time to heal”) Professor Tyson could say “Nailed it, Neil. A litany of loosely connected insignificant, quickly remedied and forgotten bureaucratic dustups with dwarfish Russian and Chinese space agencies is a fitting end to this 10000-year story”.

And even more disappointing than the book (that Professor Tyson betrayed and wantonly abandoned when it was so close to realizing his brilliant idea) is the Audible narration. I like the narrator - Courtney Vance. He is a great artist at the top of his profession. However, instead of hiring great names I’d suggest the Publisher find someone who is 1) broadly knowledgeable about the subject and 2) willing to read the book to familiarize himself with its contents before narrating it for the entire Audible Universe. You see, the narrator isn’t simply a fellow reader who reads the book aloud but apparently is less familiar with the story than his audience is. The narrator is expected to sound like the author. Unfortunately, listening to Mr Vance’s performance is painful... he obviously hadn’t read the book in advance, and his narration sounds like he is perpetually surprised by what Professor Tyson sends his way (even the question mark at the end of a long sentence). Sudden slowdowns and micro-pauses happen as the narrator isn’t quite sure where the story is heading, and this makes for an unpleasant experience even while story is still good. And with chapter 8 “Space power”, the experience becomes unbearable as the narrator himself is probably bored silly by the dry factual presentation into which the initially beautiful story has degenerated by now.

2 people found this helpful