Sunday, September 21, 2014

Modern Arms and Free Men

Modern Arms and Free Men by Vannevar Bush was published in 1949. He foresaw many of the developments of the 1950s and 1960s, missed the mark on some others. On the whole, a very interesting book that marks a moment in time. The Soviet Union was on the verge of successfully detonating their first nuclear bomb. The Cold War was new. The author was looking forward toward the next major war and did not recognize the effect nuclear weapons would have on political decision making.

Chapters on the various aspects of military force, weapons, land based, aviation, and nuclear, followed by chapters on democracy, education, planning, threats, and totalitarianism. Here's the opening sentences from the chapter "Planning".
"A great deal is heard about planning these days and the word has been abused. At times it does not mean planning at all, but the detailed execution of plans by a horde of bureaucrats who, so those to whom the word is anathema tell us, would dictate how many chickens we could have in the back yard and ultimately what to read and how to part our hair."
You can perhaps see why I was interested in this book. One more quote, from the conclusion.
If we lose our liberties, it will be because we abandon them                              --Vannevar Bush (Modern Arms and Free Men, 1949)                                          


Lost_Dog said...

You probably already know if you're a fan of the early '70's "World at War" series, but Vannevar Bush is interviewed in at least one episode regarding the Manhattan Project and Roosevelt.

Even if you're not interested in Bush, I consider the "World at War" series mandatory viewing.

bruce said...

Modern Arms and Free Men- the title is evocative. Gunpowder and widely distributed rifles made for rough equality, federalism. Nukes make for centralized states, managed by secretive police. The internet spreads things out again, maybe.