hits counter The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency - Ebook PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency

Availability: Ready to download

The definitive history of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, from the author of the New York Times bestseller Area 51 No one has ever written the history of the Defense Department's most secret, most powerful, and most controversial military science R&D agency. In the first-ever history about the organization, New York Times bestselling author Annie Jacobs The definitive history of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, from the author of the New York Times bestseller Area 51 No one has ever written the history of the Defense Department's most secret, most powerful, and most controversial military science R&D agency. In the first-ever history about the organization, New York Times bestselling author Annie Jacobsen draws on inside sources, exclusive interviews, private documents, and declassified memos to paint a picture of DARPA, or "the Pentagon's brain," from its Cold War inception in 1958 to the present. This is the book on DARPA--a compelling narrative about this clandestine intersection of science and the American military and the often frightening results.


Compare

The definitive history of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, from the author of the New York Times bestseller Area 51 No one has ever written the history of the Defense Department's most secret, most powerful, and most controversial military science R&D agency. In the first-ever history about the organization, New York Times bestselling author Annie Jacobs The definitive history of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, from the author of the New York Times bestseller Area 51 No one has ever written the history of the Defense Department's most secret, most powerful, and most controversial military science R&D agency. In the first-ever history about the organization, New York Times bestselling author Annie Jacobsen draws on inside sources, exclusive interviews, private documents, and declassified memos to paint a picture of DARPA, or "the Pentagon's brain," from its Cold War inception in 1958 to the present. This is the book on DARPA--a compelling narrative about this clandestine intersection of science and the American military and the often frightening results.

30 review for The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra

    What a ridiculous book. For the first 150 pages, I was completely hooked. The material was interesting and seemed well researched. The author had some opinions or drew some conclusions that I was slightly skeptical of, but they were fairly clearly labeled as opinions, so that was fine with me. Unfortunately, as I got deeper into the book, I started to see some errors with concepts I was quite familiar with already. First of all, she refers to a bombsight as a "bombsite." Bombsite doesn't even ap What a ridiculous book. For the first 150 pages, I was completely hooked. The material was interesting and seemed well researched. The author had some opinions or drew some conclusions that I was slightly skeptical of, but they were fairly clearly labeled as opinions, so that was fine with me. Unfortunately, as I got deeper into the book, I started to see some errors with concepts I was quite familiar with already. First of all, she refers to a bombsight as a "bombsite." Bombsite doesn't even appear to be a word, and was my first clue that this book may not have been properly edited or fact-checked. I am generous, however, and understand that misspellings can make it through even the best of editorial processes. After that, though, my skeptic senses were perked for more inconsistencies. When I got to the part where the author completely mangles Moore's Law (instead of saying computing power doubles every 18 months, she was saying it squares), I was done. The problem with a book like this is that the subject matter is difficult for a layperson to fact-check, and when fairly simple concepts aren't correct, it doesn't bode well for the recently declassified material. I'm super disappointed, because this book was extremely interesting before I lost faith in its accuracy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Austin

    I know that Mark Twain said, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story." However, I cannot find who first said, "Never let the details ruin a good story." There is not a word in the English language to describe how overly verbose this lady is. The DARPA technology really started getting interesting post 9/11 but she absolutely ruined it with unnecessary details about uninteresting people, places and things. Reading this book was like writing a paper in college. I would find housework t I know that Mark Twain said, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story." However, I cannot find who first said, "Never let the details ruin a good story." There is not a word in the English language to describe how overly verbose this lady is. The DARPA technology really started getting interesting post 9/11 but she absolutely ruined it with unnecessary details about uninteresting people, places and things. Reading this book was like writing a paper in college. I would find housework to do or I'd space off and start planning my own funeral while reading this boring drivel. She could easily have said twice as much and I would have retained thrice as much with a good editor. And come on, even Forrest Gump knows that two planes can't cause three buildings to collapse at free fall speed. I saw it on a meme and Lord knows you can't argue with meme science.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    If you’re familiar with the history of the computer industry, you’re no doubt aware that the Internet was conceived and developed by a U.S. Government agency called DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). You may also know that the same agency invented GPS, the Global Positioning System. Chances are, though, that you don’t know that DARPA also invented drones both big and tiny, Agent Orange, the M16 Assault Rifle, sophisticated sensor technology, the F117A stealth fighter jet, MIRV If you’re familiar with the history of the computer industry, you’re no doubt aware that the Internet was conceived and developed by a U.S. Government agency called DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). You may also know that the same agency invented GPS, the Global Positioning System. Chances are, though, that you don’t know that DARPA also invented drones both big and tiny, Agent Orange, the M16 Assault Rifle, sophisticated sensor technology, the F117A stealth fighter jet, MIRVs (Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles) that carry nuclear weapons, the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System, robotic soldiers — and a slew of other military weapons systems, most of them still top secret. Remember Total Information Awareness, the predecessor to the massive data collection programs of the NSA that Edward Snowden revealed? DARPA was responsible for that one, too. The agency’s work also gave birth to less lethal technologies, including “real-time video processing, noise reduction, image enhancement, and data compression.” It’s difficult to exaggerate the impact of this little-known agency. All this comes to light in the pages of journalist Annie Jacobsen’s The Pentagon’s Brain, the first full-length study of America’s secretive military research agency. DARPA’s mission DARPA was created by President Dwight D. Eisenhower over the strenuous objections of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and just about everyone else in the military establishment. “Its mission is to create revolutions in military science and to maintain technological dominance over the rest of the world.” No doubt there are many in the military and in conservative circles who are thrilled at how successful the agency has been in fulfilling its mission, their original unhappiness notwithstanding. The rest of us should be scared. Very scared. With its origins in the debates over the use of the hydrogen bomb and the policy of Mutual Assured Destruction in the 1950s, DARPA’s R&D programs have consistently been found on the far frontiers of military science. Among its least savory efforts (among a great many) were a project in 1958 to shield the United States from Soviet attack by exploding nuclear weapons in the upper atmosphere and the use of the herbicide Agent Orange to defoliate the South Vietnamese forests sheltering Vietcong troops. DARPA scientists actually did detonate nuclear weapons in the atmosphere — and you know the story of Agent Orange. Unpleasant surprises The Pentagon’s Brain was the product of exhaustive research. Much of the book is based on formerly classified materials that have only lately come to light. Author Annie Jacobsen turned up startling new information in the course of her research. For example, she learned that the world came even closer to Armageddon during the Cuban Missile Crisis than anyone outside top government and military circles was aware: “four nuclear weapons were detonated in space” during those tense days, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union stood on the brink of total nuclear war. (Two of those were the aforementioned bombs sired by DARPA.) Though born in the grimmest days of the Cold War, DARPA’s work for more than a decade focused on the war in Vietnam. (The agency was originally called just ARPA until Congress got into the act.) That conflict led to the development of the M16 rifle and many other, less celebrated weapons of war. But much of the work involved the social sciences, subcontracted to the RAND Corporation, a name that will be familiar to anyone who lived through those times. ARPA contractors working for RAND helped to justify the notorious Strategic Hamlets program in which South Vietnamese peasants were forcibly removed from their villages and their lands and moved into heavily guarded new settlements. In fairness, the first round of ARPA social scientists found that the Strategic Hamlets were alienating peasants, but their findings were simply rejected by Pentagon leaders and more amenable researchers hired. Similarly, “the agency did not want to hear that the Vietcong could not be defeated. [Administrators] took the position that [the social scientists] had gone off the rails.” The electronic battlefield The high profile of many DARPA inventions notwithstanding, what may be its most significant creation was a “system of systems” that is known today as the electronic battlefield. Jacobsen calls it “the most revolutionary piece of military technology of the twentieth century, after the hydrogen bomb.” This concept encompasses the use of remotely piloted attack drones and technology that enhances the ability of individual soldiers. Ultimately, DARPA research is expected to extend the concept into “transhumanism — the notion that man can and will alter the human condition fundamentally by augmenting humans with machines and other means.” One such effort is the DARPA exoskeleton, which bears an uncanny resemblance to The Terminator and Robocop. Another is an effort to “allow future ‘soldiers [to] communicate by thought alone.” The Pentagon’s Brain is crammed with chilling examples of the brave new world envisioned by DARPA scientists. I would like to think that every member of Congress would read this book — and then take a much more careful look at funding for the Pentagon. Fat chance, eh? About the author Annie Jacobsen is the author of three previous nonfiction books about the Pentagon. One relates the story of Operation Paperclip that brought Werner von Braun and other Nazi scientists to the U.S. following World War II. Another is a history of Area 51, which may be the best known and most notorious American military base in existence.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Barb Middleton

    I listened to the audiobook while traveling 32 hours (door-to-door) from Africa to the U.S. The audio, narrated by the author, was over 18 hours and never failed to put me to sleep. Bulging with fascinating details, it lulled me to sleep with all its names and acronyms at times, but kept me awake other times. The beginning is an amazing account of the hydrogen bomb that made me wonder about the after-effects in the islands decades later. I recommend the book over an audiobook unless you have a g I listened to the audiobook while traveling 32 hours (door-to-door) from Africa to the U.S. The audio, narrated by the author, was over 18 hours and never failed to put me to sleep. Bulging with fascinating details, it lulled me to sleep with all its names and acronyms at times, but kept me awake other times. The beginning is an amazing account of the hydrogen bomb that made me wonder about the after-effects in the islands decades later. I recommend the book over an audiobook unless you have a good memory for details. I don't. I am going to get the book and skim it again. An ambitious look at a little-known, yet powerful agency, started in the 1950's to win wars. Annie Jacobsen does a good job dramatizing historical events and remaining objective letting the reader decide whether DARPA crosses the line or defends the country in its mission. I can see why this was a 2016 Pulitzer Prize nominee for history. The arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States meant the belief in "mutually assured destruction" - nations attacking each other with nuclear weapons would destroy themselves in the process. The U.S. decided to develop DARPA in 1958 to stay ahead of the Soviets in new arms and technology, and prevent a nuclear strike. The department developed cutting-edge technological, biological, psychological and scientific warfare. They developed ARPANET, the pre-cursor to today's Intenet, and Agent Orange, a toxic defoliant used in the Vietnam War. Sophisticated rifles, drones, and global positioning systems (GPS) make this read like a spy novel at times. One reviewer, Richard Easton, claims that the information on GPS is incorrect. He's quite detailed in what he considers egregious errors. I would have to do more research in this area to see if I agree or not. I do not agree that the entire book is a wasted effort if that is true as he implies. The GPS is a small portion as the author is covering the entire DARPA history. However, if Jacobsen is wrong, I hope it is corrected in new printings. I hope her book leads to more work on the topic. She wrote it by interviewing 71 former DARPA scientists and reading newly declassified documents from 1958 to the present. It is quite fascinating and original.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    This is a terribly biased (Hollywood/LA Times)version of the amazing stories of ARPA/DARPA achievements and their influences on our world. Most of the stuff in here is well known. I was even involved in some of them. But the whole book is laced with the author's storytelling speculation and extreme liberal bias. Page after page of "ain't it awful". When scientists and engineers push the bounds of knowledge as DARPA still does, there are mistakes. It's always a brave new world. But thank God they This is a terribly biased (Hollywood/LA Times)version of the amazing stories of ARPA/DARPA achievements and their influences on our world. Most of the stuff in here is well known. I was even involved in some of them. But the whole book is laced with the author's storytelling speculation and extreme liberal bias. Page after page of "ain't it awful". When scientists and engineers push the bounds of knowledge as DARPA still does, there are mistakes. It's always a brave new world. But thank God they are on our side. This book would be better titles. "Hindsight Analysis of DARPA and our Dumb-ass Government by an Ignorant Author".

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gayle

    I got this free is a drawing from Goodreads First Reads. I've always said that I'm more afraid of what the government doesn't tell us than what they do. This book just reiterates that. I found myself saying what are you kidding me many times while reading this. The crowd control ideas was one of those times. Lasers and drones are examined to an extent with some of that information being still classified so then of course the whole story can't be given. The polio vaccine problem I had never heard I got this free is a drawing from Goodreads First Reads. I've always said that I'm more afraid of what the government doesn't tell us than what they do. This book just reiterates that. I found myself saying what are you kidding me many times while reading this. The crowd control ideas was one of those times. Lasers and drones are examined to an extent with some of that information being still classified so then of course the whole story can't be given. The polio vaccine problem I had never heard of before. That is scary. There are many other items covered in this book which is a very interesting read if you are interested at all in what our government is doing.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    very well researched and written. the flow was great and it didn't get dry and boring. Annie did an amazing job of telling a story while educating you on a fascinating subject. superbly done. I highly recommend this book. very well researched and written. the flow was great and it didn't get dry and boring. Annie did an amazing job of telling a story while educating you on a fascinating subject. superbly done. I highly recommend this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Annette

    Repetitive. Lackadaisically edited. Could have been 200-300 pages shorter. Could have been interesting. Reads like it was written for a dozen or more magazine articles...in different magazines. Admittedly though, it does speak about some projects in AI and bioengineering that are pretty darn disturbing to think about in a moral, ethical and humanitarian sense.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Peter Wolfley

    I'm not sure whether to be comforted or terrified that we have a team like DARPA in the Pentagon dreaming up all kinds of wild things for the industrial military complex. It's incredibly fascinating history and we'll only learn more about it as time goes on and more stuff gets declassified. I'm not sure whether to be comforted or terrified that we have a team like DARPA in the Pentagon dreaming up all kinds of wild things for the industrial military complex. It's incredibly fascinating history and we'll only learn more about it as time goes on and more stuff gets declassified.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jon Zelazny

    Good, in a magazine-ish overview kind of way, which is what I was looking for. But after calmly explaining at length how DARPA is perfectly capable of plowing billions into programs that never work, she goes full Kevin McCarthy in her last few chapters about out-of-control, self-determining, hunter-killer robots. Which don't exist! Yet!! But-- they COULD!!! Good, in a magazine-ish overview kind of way, which is what I was looking for. But after calmly explaining at length how DARPA is perfectly capable of plowing billions into programs that never work, she goes full Kevin McCarthy in her last few chapters about out-of-control, self-determining, hunter-killer robots. Which don't exist! Yet!! But-- they COULD!!!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Eugene Miya

    It's highly biased to IPTO (Info. Proc. Techniques Off.). She does not provide or even consider an Org chart. In this respect James Bamford's Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency from the Cold War Through the Dawn of a New Century (she uses as a reference however flawed) is a better organized book (even if of a different agency). It's not the first attempt of a DARPA history. Alex Rolland was commissioned to try that (at least cited in the references). Not one wo It's highly biased to IPTO (Info. Proc. Techniques Off.). She does not provide or even consider an Org chart. In this respect James Bamford's Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency from the Cold War Through the Dawn of a New Century (she uses as a reference however flawed) is a better organized book (even if of a different agency). It's not the first attempt of a DARPA history. Alex Rolland was commissioned to try that (at least cited in the references). Not one word on Stanley (Stanford) and the DARPA autonomous vehicle challenge (it was done to reduce the number of supply trucks being blown up by IEDs (a whole chapter), remember?). Their head programmer had to explain what DARPA was to the people in the Pentagon, most of whom (the uniformed), never heard of DARPA. Most annoying is a poor index. No pointers to Islamic State (one occurrence). A whole slew of topics I wanted to refer back to the text. The means probably that this book is best read as an electronic version. You could certainly search and go back easier. Many references attempt to relate to the successful Manhattan Project (which started with only a request for $50K (so they misjudged)). Most successor projects started many times more expensive and she does 2015 inflation price comparisons. Many interviews (a plus, fine selection of people) mark the references. One answers the question: What happened to John Poindexter? What's amusing to a technologist is her attempt to explain what a maser is requires the use of laser, which came after the maser (they were first called optical masers). So she calls them microwave lasers then has to explain lasers (to introduce Charles Townes). Next, I feel sorry for the non-technologist for the number of Newspeak (1984) like acronyms (this is the military). I'm certain that with the publication of The Gun (about the AK-47) and its section on the M-16 makes her section on the introduction of the M-16 tick off a lot of vets from that period (for the AR-15s and M-16s problems (true we still have the M-4 carbine version to this day)). I think this problem was way more than ARPA. The text wanders between vilifying DARPA and the DOD versus citing them as the solutions to the world's problems. The book cites SRI working for them but leaves out the work of Doug Engelbart who was why SRI was the 2nd ARPAnet node. Doug was doing intellect augmentation (covered in John Markoff's book What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry) in contrast to the artificial intelligence being attempted by DARPA currently (in fact augmentation comes into the text late in the book). Was DARPA (and were the Jasons) part of the problem with Vietnam? No mention of Panama (the first use of the F-117 Stealth fighter). Anthropologists, and their professional society, and social sciences join the biologists as the new kids on the scientific block started by physicists. Some not flattering views of social sciences in the Human Terrain. I told a friend (Gio) who was an DARPA Program Manager at one time to glance this book. Alas, my friend Barry Leiner passed away, and I do recall a little discussion on TIA (Total Information Awareness). It was far less evil sounding (it was overblown). (Hell, I was working next to NSF and DARPA program managers at the time (I was not a program manager, just our agency's technical reviewer). That a friend (Markoff) was called a cause of its demise was interesting. She overall does not vilify DARPA only cites Eisenhower's admonishment to beware the military-industrial (-academic) complex. So this is a book about being aware of one's government. They book is slightly annoying to the knowledgeable. It might be a little eye opening to those for home this is a new topic.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Charles

    Good overview of various DARPA initiatives, starting with the pre-DARPA Manhattan Project, the gadgets and social science employed in Vietnam, modern network centric warfare, etc. The discussion of artificial intelligence towards the end of the book was particularly enjoyable. Suffers from some discontinuity, but I suppose that's to be expected when trying to tell the history of an ultra secret government organization. Good overview of various DARPA initiatives, starting with the pre-DARPA Manhattan Project, the gadgets and social science employed in Vietnam, modern network centric warfare, etc. The discussion of artificial intelligence towards the end of the book was particularly enjoyable. Suffers from some discontinuity, but I suppose that's to be expected when trying to tell the history of an ultra secret government organization.

  13. 5 out of 5

    CJ

    This is a history book?!? I gave five stars to a history book?!? I have only ever been really impressed with one other history book before but this one beats them all. While providing the detailed history of DARPA, this tome brings the various events to life while capturing the reader's interest with amazing details that are almost unbelievable. Each section held amazing information such as the hydrogen bomb information in the first section and the three foot cement walls that warbled like jello This is a history book?!? I gave five stars to a history book?!? I have only ever been really impressed with one other history book before but this one beats them all. While providing the detailed history of DARPA, this tome brings the various events to life while capturing the reader's interest with amazing details that are almost unbelievable. Each section held amazing information such as the hydrogen bomb information in the first section and the three foot cement walls that warbled like jello. Section two had an amazing human interest story about a soldier who parachuted out of burning plane in Vietnam and landed in a tree and was saved hours later by one of the Jolly Green Giants rescuers and then the added tale of how these two men reconnected years later is told in the acknowledgments section in the back of the book. There is something in every section and before I finished the book, I found myself going back and forth to reread points and happenings. I fully intend to continue to do so as the because the information is all so interesting. I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway contest as a first-reads volume and I actually thought it was going to be something different than it was, but I couldn't be more pleased that it is exactly what the whole title says it is and is such an in-depth, fantastically expressed tales of amazing happenings in our history. I can only imagine at this time how much better the final copy will have improved with the addition of photographs and an index to aide in the search for particular sections that the reader will want to review again and again.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Trike

    This is an interesting overview which is a bit long-winded yet leaves some things out. For instance, I was surprised that there was no mention of DARPA’s self-driving vehicle competition, a technology we currently have in most new cars. (For many of them the capability is in the machine, it just isn’t turned on yet.) Overall though, it’s pretty good. For me the pull quote is this:Charles Townes said...that he was personally inspired to invent the laser after reading the Science Fiction novel The This is an interesting overview which is a bit long-winded yet leaves some things out. For instance, I was surprised that there was no mention of DARPA’s self-driving vehicle competition, a technology we currently have in most new cars. (For many of them the capability is in the machine, it just isn’t turned on yet.) Overall though, it’s pretty good. For me the pull quote is this:Charles Townes said...that he was personally inspired to invent the laser after reading the Science Fiction novel The Garin Death Ray, written by Alexei Tolstoi in 1926. It is remarkable to think how powerful a force Science Fiction can be. That fantastic, seemingly impossible ideas can inspire people like Charles Townes to invent things that totally transform the world. Sci-fi rulez! The audiobook is read by the author and it’s clear that she’s like a lot of readers who’ve learned words from books rather than hearing them. She pronounces NORAD as “no rad”, sounding like “nomad”, and “ensign” like “n sine”. I’m guessing Jacobsen doesn’t watch a lot of movies.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jamie

    Damn. It’s the usual ‘if this is what’s unclassified, they’re doing orders of magnitude worse.’ And we punish the whistleblowers instead of those involved. That’s where the book fell short, though; it could have delved harder on the privacy and, y’know, war crimes stuff. But that’s a different book, I suppose.Also I learned the Pentagon has an initiative where they consult with popular science fiction writers, so the last chapter was Jacobsen tagging along with Chris Carter (The X-Files) and Gal Damn. It’s the usual ‘if this is what’s unclassified, they’re doing orders of magnitude worse.’ And we punish the whistleblowers instead of those involved. That’s where the book fell short, though; it could have delved harder on the privacy and, y’know, war crimes stuff. But that’s a different book, I suppose.Also I learned the Pentagon has an initiative where they consult with popular science fiction writers, so the last chapter was Jacobsen tagging along with Chris Carter (The X-Files) and Gale Anne Hurd (The Terminator) to the Pentagon, and frankly that’s terrifying.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jared

    4/5 stars 'Pentagon's Brain' is a 2016 Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. I found it to be an enjoyable read. The part that I enjoyed most about this book was the 'factoids'. It seemed like I was highlighting some interesting tidbit on every few pages. If anything, those are worth checking out (see below). DARPA has been the driving force behind some of the most revolutionary concepts in civilian life and the battlefield. There's no telling what they are working on presently... COMPETITIO 4/5 stars 'Pentagon's Brain' is a 2016 Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History. I found it to be an enjoyable read. The part that I enjoyed most about this book was the 'factoids'. It seemed like I was highlighting some interesting tidbit on every few pages. If anything, those are worth checking out (see below). DARPA has been the driving force behind some of the most revolutionary concepts in civilian life and the battlefield. There's no telling what they are working on presently... COMPETITION SPURS INNOVATION - "The Joint Committee on Atomic Energy decided that a second national nuclear weapons laboratory was needed now, in order to foster competition with Los Alamos. This idea—that rivalry fosters excellence and is imperative for supremacy—would become a hallmark of U.S. defense science in the decades ahead." - - "To get the most out of an American scientist was to get him to compete against equally brilliant men." - - "In the mid-1950s, P&G had four major soap brands—Ivory, Joy, Tide, and Oxydol. Sales were lagging until (Sec'y of Defense and former P&G exec) McElroy came up with the concept of promoting competition among in-house brands and targeting specific audiences to advertise to." - - "President Eisenhower made a bold and brilliant move with his choice. Instead of sending one of his science advisors who wanted nuclear weapons tests to stop, he chose a scientist who did not: Ernest Lawrence." SPUTNIK LAUNCH LEADS TO DEVELOPMENT OF DARPA - Real significance of Sputnik: "Sputnik weighed only 184 pounds, but it had been launched into space by a Soviet ICBM. Soon the Soviet ICBM would be able to carry a much heavier payload—such as a nuclear bomb—halfway across the world to any target in the United States." - - (In the months prior to Sputnik launch, Eisenhower wanted to know how to protect Americans for Soviet nukes in case of war. The result was the 'Gaither Report) " - - "...top secret Gaither Report, officially titled “Deterrence and Survival in the Nuclear Age,” the defense contractors, industrialists, and defense scientists concluded that there was no way to protect U.S. citizens in the event of a nuclear war." - "It was York and Wiesner’s findings about the missile threat that the public focused on, which was what caused the Sputnik panic to escalate into hysteria." START OF 'ARPA' - "(Sec'y of Defense McElroy) took office with a clear vision. “I conceive the role of the Secretary of Defense to be that of captain of President Eisenhower’s defense team,” he said. His first job as captain was to counter the threat of any future Soviet scientific surprise." - - "On November 20, 1957, just five weeks after assuming office, Secretary McElroy went to Capitol Hill with a bold idea. He proposed the creation of a new agency inside the Pentagon, called the Advanced Research Projects Agency, or ARPA." - - "Congress liked the idea, and McElroy was encouraged to proceed. The military services, however, were adamantly opposed. The Army, Air Force, and Navy were unwilling to give up control of the research and development that was going on inside their individual services, most notably in the vast new frontier that was space." - - "But the attack against ARPA by the military services was bound to fail. “The fact that they didn’t want an ARPA is one reason [Eisenhower] did,” - - "ARPA was a “pre-requirement” organization in that it conducted research in advance of specific needs." - - "The agency’s dilemma, said Rechtin, was this: if you can’t do the research before a need arises, by the time the need is there, it’s clear that the research should already have been done." 'JASON' GROUP (OF ACADEMICS) THAT ADVISED ARPA/DARPA IN EARLY DAYS - "They were asked to think about new programs to be researched and developed, and also to imagine the programs that Russian scientists might be working on." - - "...the Jasons had displayed a “pattern of arrogance.” That they were a self-congratulating group. “They picked their members. And so they had in 1969 the same members they had in 1959.” Lukasik wanted new blood." CONFIRMATION BIAS - The strategic hamlet effort was a failure, despite follow-on reports to portray it as a success: "In one interview after another, Hickey and Donnell found widespread dissatisfaction with the Strategic Hamlet Program."...(later) "News footage seen around the world showed farmers smashing the fortifications’ bamboo walls with sledgehammers, shovels, and sticks, as the strategic hamlets disappeared." - - "According to other RAND officers, Deitchman perceived the (enemy) POW report as unhelpful. RAND needed to send researchers into the field whose reports were better aligned with the conviction of the Pentagon that the Vietcong could and would be defeated." - - RAND picked an ardent anti-communist writer to do a report that said the opposite of Zasloff.: "Frank Collbohm tapped Leon Gouré to replace Joseph Zasloff as the lead social scientist on the ARPA Viet Cong Motivation and Morale Project in Saigon. Zasloff saw this appointment as a disaster waiting to unfold." ARPA MOVES OUT OF THE PENTAGON - "in February 1970 came another devastating blow for ARPA. The secretary of defense authorized a decision that the entire agency was to be removed from its coveted office space inside the Pentagon to a lackluster office building in the Rosslyn district of Arlington, Virginia" ARPA BECOMES DARPA - 'Defense' added to the front of 'ARPA' in order to demonstrate that funding for its efforts had direct military application, as required by Congress: "And in keeping with the Mansfield Amendment, which required the Pentagon to research and develop programs only with a “specific military function,” the word “defense” was added to ARPA’s name. From now on it would be called the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA." DARPA 'PHASES' - "The agency already had shifted from the 1950s space and ballistic missile defense agency..." - - "...to the 1960s agency responsible for some of the most controversial programs of the Vietnam War. And now, a number of events occurred that eased the agency’s transition as it began to change course again...." - - "Under the direction of the physicist Stephen Lukasik, in the mid-1970s the agency would take a new turn—a new “thrust,” as Lukasik grew fond of saying. In this mid-1970s period of acceleration and innovation, DARPA would plant certain seeds that would allow it to grow into one of the most powerful and most respected agencies inside the Department of Defense." - - After several Vietnam projects left a bad taste in its mouth, DARPA re-focused itself on doing only revolutionary, 'pre-requirement' research: "Testifying before Congress in 1973, director Stephen Lukasik said that DARPA’s goal was to refocus itself as a neutral, non–military service organization, emphasizing what he called “high-risk projects of revolutionary impact.” Only innovative, groundbreaking programs would be taken on, he said, programs that should be viewed as “pre-mission assignments” or “pre-requirement” research. The agency needed to apply itself to its original mandate, which was to keep the nation from being embarrassed by another Sputnik-like surprise. At DARPA, the emphasis was on hard science and hardware." FACTOIDS - "The presence of x-rays (while near a hydrogen bomb) made the unseen visible. In the flash of Teller light, Freedman—who was watching the scientists for their reactions—could see their facial bones. “In front of me… they were skeletons,” Freedman recalls. Their faces no longer appeared to be human faces. Just “jawbones and eye sockets. Rows of teeth. Skulls.” - - "RAND, an acronym for “research and development,” was the Pentagon’s first postwar think tank, the brains behind U.S. Air Force brawn." - - "(Brilliant physicist) Von Neumann was to write down his thoughts each morning while shaving, and for those ideas he would be paid $ 200 a month—the average salary of a full-time RAND analyst at the time." - - Origin of the name of 'Sputnik': "...Iskusstvennyy Sputnik Zemli, or “artificial satellite of the earth.” - - "Monsanto Chemical Company, a nuclear defense contractor that would be vilified during the Vietnam War for producing the herbicide Agent Orange," - - "With no formal training, and in a matter of a few years, (physicist) Christofilos transformed himself from an elevator technician into one of the most ingenious scientists in the modern world. - - (The Defender radar was so powerful that it had detected the moon coming up and thought it was an inbound missile): "There, coming up over the horizon, over Norway, was a huge rising moon. The BMEWS had not malfunctioned. It was “simply more powerful than anyone had dreamed,” - - (Factoid- Time it takes for an ICBM from Russia to hit DC.): "a mere 1,600 seconds. It seemed impossibly fast. Just twenty-six minutes and forty seconds from launch to annihilation." - - "Discoverer III was a highly classified spying mission, a cover for America’s first space-based satellite reconnaissance program, called Corona." - - "The most significant weapon to emerge from the early days of Project Agile was the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. In the summer of 1961, Diem’s small-in-stature army was having difficulty handling the large semiautomatic weapons carried by U.S. military advisors. In the AR-15 Godel saw promise, “something the short, small Vietnamese can fire without bowling themselves over,” - - ARPA responsible for 'strategic hamlet' initiative: "But there was also a far more ambitious plan in place whereby ARPA would collect enough information on strategic hamlets to be able to “monitor” their activity in the future." - "The man, J. C. R. Licklider, invented the concept of the Internet, which was originally called the ARPANET. Licklider did not arrive at the Pentagon with the intent of creating the Internet. He was hired to research and develop command and control systems, most of which were related to nuclear weapons at the time." - - "Licklider was a trained psychologist with a rare specialization in psychoacoustics, the scientific study of sound perception. Psychoacoustics concerns itself with questions such as, when a person across a room claps his hands, how does the brain know where that sound is coming from?" - - During Cuban Missile Crisis: "The president raised the defense condition to DEFCON 2 for the first and only time in history." - - Nukes detonated during the Cuban Missile Crisis: "Twice during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, on October 20 and October 26, 1962, the United States detonated two nuclear weapons—code-named Checkmate and Bluegill Triple Prime—in space. These tests, which sought to advance knowledge in ARPA’s pursuit of the Christofilos effect, are on the record and are known. What is not known outside Defense Department circles is that in response, on October 22 and October 28, 1962, the Soviets also detonated two nuclear weapons in space, also in pursuit of the Christofilos effect." - - "The Soviet nuclear weapon detonated on October 28, 1962, over Zhezqazghan in Kazakhstan at an altitude of ninety-three miles had a consequential effect. According to Russian scientists, “the nuclear detonation caused an electromagnetic pulse [EMP] that covered all of Kazakhstan,” including “electrical cables buried underground.” - - "With terrible irony, the place where Fall (author) was killed was the same stretch of road that had given his book its title, Street Without Joy." - - "Harvard’s legendary Society of Fellows, making him one of twenty-four scholars from around the world who were given complete freedom to do what they wanted to do, all expenses paid, for three years." - - "Project Agile defoliant campaign. The herbicides, varied in composition, were now being called Agent Orange, Agent Purple, Agent Pink, and other colors of the rainbow." - - "the Jasons were asked to determine “whether it made sense to think about using nuclear weapons to close off the supply routes [along] the Ho Chi Minh trail" - - "the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 as a turning point. The act established the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Justice designed to assist state police forces...The act also provided $ 12 billion in funding over a period of ten years. Police forces across America began upgrading their military-style equipment to include riot control systems, helicopters, grenade launchers, and machine guns. The LEAA famously gave birth to the special weapons and tactics concept, or SWAT, with the first units created in Los Angeles in the late 1960s.“ - - "the Pentagon Papers appeared on the front page of the New York Times. The classified documents had been leaked to the newspaper by former Pentagon employee and RAND Corporation analyst Daniel Ellsberg." - - "...in May 2000 President Clinton discontinued the selective availability (coordinate offset) feature on GPS, giving billions of people access to precise GPS technology, developed by DARPA." - - "At RAND, (Andrew) Marshall had secured his reputation as a master game theorist, and at the Pentagon, his wizardry in prognosis and prediction earned him the nom de guerre Yoda, or the Jedi Master." - - Regarding reflectors left on moon by Neil Armstrong and "Buzz" Aldrin: "The interval between launch of the pulse of light and its return permitted calculation of the distance to the moon within an inch, a measurement of unprecedented precision,” - - "Directed-energy weapons have many advantages, none so great as speed. Traveling at the speed of light means a DEW could hit a target on the moon in less than two seconds." - - "It is often said that the Clinton administration canceled the SDI ("Star Wars") program, when in fact it canceled only certain elements of the Strategic Defense Initiative. SDI never really went away." - - "And then to everyone’s surprise, on the last day of the simulated war game exercises (INTERNAL LOOK exercise that featured a scenario in which Iraq invaded Saudi Arabia) , on August 4, 1990, Iraq invaded its small, oil-rich neighbor Kuwait—for real." - - "In the first twenty-four hours of the (first Gulf) war, a total of forty-two stealth fighters, which accounted for only 2.5 percent of the U.S. airpower used in the campaign, destroyed 31 percent of Iraqi targets." - - "...a U.S. Patriot missile shot down an Iraqi Scud missile, making the Patriot the first antimissile ballistic missile fired in combat." - "each battery was shooting nearly ten missiles at each incoming Iraqi Scud." - - "...the Iraqi Scuds were breaking apart in their terminal phase, shattering into multiple pieces as they headed back down to earth. These multiple fragments were confusing Patriot missiles into thinking that each piece was an additional warhead." - - "In one instance, a group of Iraqi soldiers stepped out from a hiding place and waved the white flag of surrender at the eye of a television camera attached to a drone that was hovering nearby. This became the first time in history that a group of enemy soldiers was recorded surrendering to a machine." - - megadeath - (noun) "a unit used in quantifying the casualties of nuclear war, equal to the deaths of one million people." - - "As part of the animal sentinel program, going back to 1999, scientists had been making great progress training honeybees to locate bombs. Bees have sensing capabilities that outperform the dog’s nose by a trillion parts per second." - - "Within the thirty-six-square-mile Los Alamos campus, there are 1,280 buildings, eleven of which are nuclear facilities. Even the cooks who work in some of the kitchens have top secret Q clearances."

  17. 5 out of 5

    William Schram

    DARPA is an arm of the Department of Defense. It creates future tech for the purposes of war. It works with secrets and a lot of things that might not be cool to know too much about. So Annie Jacobsen is an investigative reporter who was allowed privy to some less secretive secrets. She wrote some other books that I have heard of but have not read yet. The main crux of the book is questioning the moral center of DARPA I suppose. A lot of the main ideas of DARPA have been focused on waging war and DARPA is an arm of the Department of Defense. It creates future tech for the purposes of war. It works with secrets and a lot of things that might not be cool to know too much about. So Annie Jacobsen is an investigative reporter who was allowed privy to some less secretive secrets. She wrote some other books that I have heard of but have not read yet. The main crux of the book is questioning the moral center of DARPA I suppose. A lot of the main ideas of DARPA have been focused on waging war and lowering the count of casualties on our side. This agency also focused on increasing civilian casualties on the other side for a very long time. This has been the case since the development of the Hydrogen Bomb, a weapon that has no clear tactical use unless you want to commit Genocide. I mean, DARPA did develop what was to become the backbone of the Internet, but that was back in the late 1960s, what sort of crazy things have they come up with now? The book is divided into chapters based on which war or conflict that thing was introduced in. So the aerial drone was invented in the 1970s and originally used a lawnmower motor according to the book. Now they can fit in the palm of your hand and are probably far superior in terms of payload or range. In the present day, some research seems to be going to aid humanity. This is suggested by the creation of prosthetic limbs that are lightweight and easy to use along with artificial intelligence that is supposed to mimic the human brain and so on. The book is pretty good, it gives a sense of hope in the idea of technology helping people out. This only occurs at the end though. Before that you have to go through the Duck and Cover Era, Vietnam, a great deal of Cold War, the Fall of the Berlin Wall, Desert Storm, the War on Terror, and so on.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Derek Allen

    Oh, this book is crazy! The good, bad, and amazing things that have come from out Nation's obsession of not wanting to get left behind from another "Sputnik" event. I was thrilled, enthralled, and horrified by listening to this book. Yet the most funny part is when Jacobson talks about when Chris Carter (developer and creator of the X-Files) and Gale Anne Hurd (creator and writer of the Terminator franchise) visited the Pentagon and the DARPA offices there. Of the government official who had the Oh, this book is crazy! The good, bad, and amazing things that have come from out Nation's obsession of not wanting to get left behind from another "Sputnik" event. I was thrilled, enthralled, and horrified by listening to this book. Yet the most funny part is when Jacobson talks about when Chris Carter (developer and creator of the X-Files) and Gale Anne Hurd (creator and writer of the Terminator franchise) visited the Pentagon and the DARPA offices there. Of the government official who had the photo of Carter's "Cigarette Smoking Man" in his office. As much as the Government wants to create autonomous computers to police and monitor humans, because of science fiction and the speed at which are solving computing issues, these men and women are very aware of the dangers these inventions may incur. Published in 2015, everything mentioned in this book have been declassified for the public. But as you get to the end of this book, and you get to what direction DARPA seems to be taking, the hints of what may be behind the closed door of Defence Advanced Research and Development Projects could make what has been relegated (until now) to the field of Science Fiction could become disturbingly real and sooner than we think. Like the fact that DARPA has been talking about creating advanced prosthetics for wounder warriors. Showing videos of how these devices are used and helping former soldiers with missing limbs. Then taking the limbs and placing them back into their sealed containers and the vaults of DARPA once the cameras are turned off. (Know this, the R and D offices of the Military do not have the mandate to find a way to make wounded veterans whole again, their job is advanced weapons and war winning strategy) Couple that with brain and cyborg research and it should give you some idea of where the agency is going. Things in the book are so detailed and complexed that I will be listening again before the end of the year!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    I love NF on "relevant history", such as Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA and The Pentagon's Brain - recent events that are going on behind the scenes in my own country. What always makes me hesitate to read them is the political persuasion of the author. I have zero tolerance for bashing. I'm beyond over it. The Pentagon's Brain is not a scathing indictment of either the right's or the left's exploitation of the federal money machine to conduct grand military experiments in third world co I love NF on "relevant history", such as Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA and The Pentagon's Brain - recent events that are going on behind the scenes in my own country. What always makes me hesitate to read them is the political persuasion of the author. I have zero tolerance for bashing. I'm beyond over it. The Pentagon's Brain is not a scathing indictment of either the right's or the left's exploitation of the federal money machine to conduct grand military experiments in third world countries. I felt this was a pretty fair "warts and all" examination of the history of the US government's R&D branch. There was very little new material in here for me, but provided a closer examination of subjects I already knew about. The book got a little ho-hum in the last couple chapters, probably because current projects are still top secret. But the first section of the book covering the 1954 detonation of the hydrogen bomb, the most powerful thermonuclear device ever tested, was so well written and awe-inspiring that I had goosebumps throughout the whole description. Utterly terrifying.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Although it is a necessary evil to prepare for war during peacetime to avoid being caught off guard when an attack comes, I believe there is a great deal of waste and greed happening at the Pentagon, that promotes personal agendas, and that scares me. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. DARPA is given seemingly unlimited resources for their projects, and for the most part, Congress can't do a darn thing. When they do try to step in and claim foul play, the upper echelons of the Pe Although it is a necessary evil to prepare for war during peacetime to avoid being caught off guard when an attack comes, I believe there is a great deal of waste and greed happening at the Pentagon, that promotes personal agendas, and that scares me. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. DARPA is given seemingly unlimited resources for their projects, and for the most part, Congress can't do a darn thing. When they do try to step in and claim foul play, the upper echelons of the Pentagon declare the project to be classified and that's the end of that! WTF! Good book. Well written. And while I learned a great deal, honestly it left me feeling cold, having LESS faith that our government looking out for our best interests. A bit of a long read, this book opened my eyes to many things the federal government is spending (and wasting) our hard-earned taxpayer dollars on...bad grammar, I know, but still true.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mr. Gottshalk

    To write a book like this required a ton of research and interviewing people and I give the author a ton of credit. Each chapter highlights a significant period of American military history from the 1950s to today, and she did a great job. The problem for me is, I'm just not that interested in every single conflict she wrote about. Nevertheless there were some very interesting chapters and I learned a lot about the people behind DARPA which ultimately aim to keep our country safe. To write a book like this required a ton of research and interviewing people and I give the author a ton of credit. Each chapter highlights a significant period of American military history from the 1950s to today, and she did a great job. The problem for me is, I'm just not that interested in every single conflict she wrote about. Nevertheless there were some very interesting chapters and I learned a lot about the people behind DARPA which ultimately aim to keep our country safe.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nate H.

    Geezus!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Cray

    Dr. Strangelove is one of my all-time favorite movies. So when two books came out in 2017 about the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (aka DARPA) I knew I had to read at least one. DARPA is where many of the Pentagon’s most innovative, often crazy and ridiculous weapons technology R&D ideas have been cooked up. No book about DARPA is going to tell us much about what they are currently working on -- most likely things like underwater robotics, Artificial Intelligence, cyber-warfare advance Dr. Strangelove is one of my all-time favorite movies. So when two books came out in 2017 about the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (aka DARPA) I knew I had to read at least one. DARPA is where many of the Pentagon’s most innovative, often crazy and ridiculous weapons technology R&D ideas have been cooked up. No book about DARPA is going to tell us much about what they are currently working on -- most likely things like underwater robotics, Artificial Intelligence, cyber-warfare advances, sonic weaponry, etc. It’s not that difficult to imagine. All you need to do is take a few hours to skim some national security think tank studies, war college papers or a chapter from the US China Commission’s annual report on China’s pursuit of advanced weapons. Still, the history of advanced weapons research is stunning. The Pentagon’s Brain is dense with revelations about classified projects, with snapshots of the world’s most ingenious technocrats, many of whom are still alive and apparently consented to be interviewed. We learn more about the initial purpose of weapons like Agent Orange, the chemical defoliant critical to the counterinsurgency. Vietnam was blanketed with the dioxin-contaminated defoliant in order to strip the leaves off trees to deny Vietcong fighters protective cover from the jungle canopy. They also wanted to use it to starve them into submission -- by poisoning their primary source of food in the jungle -- manioc roots. Even though the Geneva Convention prohibited the use of biological and chemical weapons, the classified program was described as “anticrop warfare research” because destroying enemy food supplies was not against the “rules” of war. Kennedy approved the program even after it was exposed early in the war. A few years later, as the war escalated, military scientists like Gordon MacDonald saw Agent Orange as essential to an ambitious plan to use weather modification to support the military’s counterinsurgency strategy. The Pentagon (ARPA) and the U.S. Forest Service developed a secret program called Project EMOTE to develop “environmental modification techniques” such as forest fires -- in order to destroy the Viet Cong’s jungle cover. But jungles are naturally humid -- the moisture contained by the dense canopy. Spraying Agent Orange would strip the leaves, opening the undergrowth up to sunlight, causing it to dry up and “support combustion.” Ultimately, “weather warfare” didn’t succeed in solving the Army’s biggest counterinsurgency challenge -- disrupting the North Vietnamese guerrilla supply-line, which centered around the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Trump was not the first to fail at his attempt to “drain the swamp.” He was also not the first to consider using tactical nuclear weapons in Southeast Asia. Robert McNamara asked the “Jasons” (a secret group of scientific Pentagon advisors that were gathered together to be briefed on a set of challenges) to determine if it would be effective to use nuclear weapons to destroy the Ho Chi Minh Trail. One reason nukes were not used, apparently, is because the Jason scientists calculated that destroying the trail and cutting off supply routes would require dropping 10 per day or 3000 per year. The next idea they came up with was a sensor technology program whose purpose was to establish an “anti-infiltration barrier” -- what was later known and ridiculed as McNamara’s “electronic fence” -- a combination of audio,seismic, heat and other types of sensors -- camouflaged and dropped on the trail, where the movement of troops and equipment -- including bicycles and oxen would set them off so that a signal could be related to commanders who could then dispatch aircraft to drop cluster bombs and “dumb” bombs that released hundreds of one-pound “frag” bombs which would disperse and (with delayed fuses) spray razor-sharp steel shards in a kill radius of 800 feet. McNamara decided to move the project forward, over the objection of the Joint Chiefs. It was the single most expensive high-tech project of the Vietnam War. And it failed for reasons that didn’t require a genius to predict: the sensors were temperature-sensitive and batteries drained and went dead quickly in the extreme heat of the jungle. Without laser-guided technology, the sensors were dropped hundreds, sometimes thousands of feet wide of the trail. But it was the birth of what the incomparable game theorist John von Neumann first imagined -- the merging of man and machine and battlefield. By 2000, the electronic battlefield was viewed as the most visionary military technology of the 20th century, after the hydrogen bomb. John von Neumann -- a colleague of Einstein’s at Princeton who consulted to RAND and designed the world’s first modern stored-program computer - MANIAC -- is one among many fascinating geniuses that populate Jacobsen’s history. Another Vietnam project was ARPA’s dog program, which sought to develop a chemical whose scent could be detected by Army-trained dogs but not by humans. The idea was to tag and track potential insurgents among the civilian population by marking groups of people with the chemical and using dogs to track whoever turned up outside a military base or some other suspicious place. But again, there was a problem that the dog handlers didn’t anticipate while training the German shepherds back in Fort Benning. The dogs lost their sense of smell in the intense jungle heat. ARPA did have a few successes. They developed the M16 rifle -- which did not respond well to wet and dirty conditions (sometimes jamming in the midst of combat), but after a few minor modifications the M16 become the longest continuously serving rifle in American military history. Among the many stunning stories in the book there is one that stood out to me, in part because of its connection to the frightening story that Noam Chomsky relates in Who Rules the World? about how close we came to nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Jacobsen writes about Operation Argus, a project that came out of a late-1950s effort to identify “problems not now receiving adequate attention” in the national security domain. DARPA’s main purpose is to anticipate new threats to U.S. national security, including new technologies that might give other countries an advantage -- and figure out how they can be countered. The 137 “Supermen of hard science” invited to a gathering at Fort McNair in the late 50s discussed many threats to the country, agreeing that one of the most important at the time was the potential ability of the Russians could hit the U.S. with ICBM-tipped nuclear bombs. The best idea for preventing that from happening, many agreed, was to create a “shield” to protect the country -- an early version of Reagan’s “Star Wars.” This eventually led to a program designed to create the “Christofilos effect.” The project was named after a Greek elevator technician and self-taught scientist named Nicholas Christofilos who first came to U.S. scientists’ attention when he claimed (accurately) that he had designed a particle accelerator two years before engineers at Brookhaven published a paper announcing the invention. When it turned out to be true, some scientists recognized the importance of offering him a job. Although federal security clearance officials were too suspicious to grant Christofilos top secret access, he was hired to work at Livermore where he “produced one seminal idea after another.” After Sputnik, he was convinced the Russians had gained too significant an advantage and began to focus on ballistic missile defense. Christofilos’ idea was to create “an impenetrable shield of high-energy electrons over our heads, a shield that would destroy any nuclear warhead that might be sent against us.” … Task Force 88 was assembled in the middle of the South Atlantic, “as far away from civilization as man can get without being in Antarctica. The spot had been chosen because it was outside shipping lanes, in a remote expanse between the tip of South America and the tip of Africa, east of a dip in the magnetic field known as the Brazilian Anomaly. It was in this rough ocean that the U.S. military planned to launch three nuclear weapons into space. … The hope was that the Christofilos effect would create a great enough disturbance in the earth’s geomagnetic fields, in the layers of the ionosphere, and in radio waves that it would ruin the delicate electronics housed inside any incoming missile. … An extraordinary number of men and machines were involved in Operation Argus, the only fully classified test in the history of U.S. nuclear testing; no part of the operation was made public. ...There were 4,500 military personnel, hundreds of scientists and engineers, twenty-one fixed-wing aircraft, eight Sikorsky helicopters, three destroyers, a fleet oiler, an aircraft carrier… more than a dozen Lockheed X-17A missiles, and three nuclear warheads.” After launching 3 satellites shortly before the tests, they fired 3 nuclear-tipped missiles off the back of a moving ship. … Because of huge 20-foot waves, things didn’t go so well. Two missiles failed just seconds after launch during a practice run; if they’d had nukes in their nosecones, they would have blown up less than a thousand feet up. On August 27, 1958, the first real test (with a nuke) “suffered an errant missile trajectory and missed its target. The last and final test -- on September 6, 1958, involved a misfire in high winds and an explosion at an altitude of 115 miles. Fast forward to the October, 1962: “Twice during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, on October 20 and October 26, 1962, the United States detonated two nuclear weapons -- code-named Checkmate and Bluegrill Triple Prime -- in space. These tests, which sought to advance knowledge in ARPA’s pursuit of the Christofilos effect, are on the record and are known. What is not known outside Defense Department circles is that in response, on October 22 and October 28, 1962, the Soviets also detonated two nuclear weapons in space, also in pursuit of the Christofilos effect. … It is hard to determine what is more shocking, that this information is not generally known, or that four nuclear weapons were detonated in space, in a DEFCON 2 environment, during the Cuban Missile Crisis.” It’s even more shocking when you realize how -- apart from those tests -- how close we were to nuclear war, as Noam Chomsky recounts In Who Rules the World. October 26 was, according to B-52 pilot Major Don Clawson, the day “the nation was closest to nuclear war,” a time when the official commanders on the ground “did not possess the capability to prevent a rogue crew or crew-members [on nuclear-armed bombers] from arming and releasing their thermonuclear weapons,” or even to prevent them from broadcasting a mission that would have sent off “the entire Airborne Alert force without possibility of recall.” Straight out of Dr. Strangelove. Was McNamara -- who was by Kennedy’s side during the crisis -- getting reports from the Southern Atlantic at the same time? If so, did he give the go-ahead for the tests, risking the possibility that the Soviets would interpret them as the first sign of an all-out nuclear attack?

  24. 5 out of 5

    Curt Cannon

    Interesting subject matter but was disappointed in how poorly the book was edited. Lots of repeated adjectives, misspelled words, and a few factual errors. Overall a decent primer on the history and issues this fascinating government agency has had over the past 60+ years.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Shamila

    I would not call this book interesting, but rather insightful. DARPA has always been a force in the background in a considerable number of groundbreaking inventions, some well-known and some unheard of, quite a lot of them taken for granted as of today, such as the internet and GPS, to name few. Since its origin with the detonation of the world's first hydrogen bomb and the unforeseen circumstances that followed, the agency has been at the forefront of cutting-edge science, but the fact that mil I would not call this book interesting, but rather insightful. DARPA has always been a force in the background in a considerable number of groundbreaking inventions, some well-known and some unheard of, quite a lot of them taken for granted as of today, such as the internet and GPS, to name few. Since its origin with the detonation of the world's first hydrogen bomb and the unforeseen circumstances that followed, the agency has been at the forefront of cutting-edge science, but the fact that military superiority being what drives the innovation is a constant conundrum of ethics. Pioneering the art of war has always been on their agenda, and although the world benefited from inventions like those mentioned earlier since they were declassified and released for public use, DARPA has a dark history of questionable use of science in war, such as Agent Orange during Vietnam war, unsolicited personal information gathering, and surveillance networks that closely resemble The Machine from Person of Interest, except that it was fictional but DARPA's version was very real. The book explores the history and the various undertakings of the agency through the ages in great detail and describes how pivotal moments in US (and world) history such as the Cold War, the Gulf War, the birth of revolutionary urban warfare with "Black Hawk Down" in 1992 and the 9/11 attacks fueled how warfare evolved, from the battle to win the arms race with WMDs and biological warfare, to the present era of robotics and brain control. Although the author's accounts of the subject have been very insightful, the last few chapters felt a bit too-opinionated rather than the investigative nature in the rest that preceded. A must-read if the subject is an interest of yours, that illustrates how most of the cutting-edge tech used today has been in use sometimes decades ago, before the US DoD decided to go public with them.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Wilson

    This book was a high 4. The author is well-read, she is well-informed, and she was able to convey complex and technical details into understandable terms. I very much appreciated the historical context of the Hydrogen Bomb development, ethical implications of technological advancements, and especially the brilliance of DARPA: DARPA funds QUESTIONS and not requirements. In order to stay at the forefront of technology for the US military and government, DARPA needs relative freedom to forecast the This book was a high 4. The author is well-read, she is well-informed, and she was able to convey complex and technical details into understandable terms. I very much appreciated the historical context of the Hydrogen Bomb development, ethical implications of technological advancements, and especially the brilliance of DARPA: DARPA funds QUESTIONS and not requirements. In order to stay at the forefront of technology for the US military and government, DARPA needs relative freedom to forecast the needs of the future. In the military, funding doesn't come without painfully logged requirements which usually means things were needed yester-year. Our government officials understood this dilemma and so through policy and law have enabled DARPA to be a sort of venture capitalist organization within the US government to fund theories and Science Fiction, in order to turn them into scientific fact. The reason this isn't a Five Star is first in Chapter 20 she mentions Edward Snowden being a "whistleblower". Though a small one-page mention, the implications are monumental. Snowden is single-handedly responsible for the compromise of more sensitive technologies and systems NOT aimed at US persons in the history of the United States. More DARPA technologies, RDT&E, and man-hours were wasted and literally handed over to our adversaries than ever before. He is responsible for any rapid advancements of countermeasures or similar intelligence systems developed in the next 20 years since his acts of espionage. He was no whistle-blower and I penalize her for that mischaracterization that was made, either by her laziness or her political opinion. I highly recommend this book, especially for those who have an experience in the National Security sector, or those who truly wish to understand the culture of civil-military discourse when it comes to developing new technologies. This is literally the antithesis of the movie "Pentagon Wars".

  27. 5 out of 5

    Teo 2050

    2017.11.30–2017.12.14 Contents Jacobsen A (2015) (18:22) Pentagon's Brain, The - An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency Dedication Epigraph Prologue Part I: The Cold War 01. The Evil Thing 02. War Games and Computing Machines 03. Vast Weapons Systems of the Future 04. Emergency Plans 05. Sixteen Hundred Seconds Until Doomsday 06. Psychological Operations Part II: The Vietnam War 07. Techniques and Gadgets 08. RAND and COIN 09. Command and Control 10. Motivation and Morale 11 2017.11.30–2017.12.14 Contents Jacobsen A (2015) (18:22) Pentagon's Brain, The - An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency Dedication Epigraph Prologue Part I: The Cold War 01. The Evil Thing 02. War Games and Computing Machines 03. Vast Weapons Systems of the Future 04. Emergency Plans 05. Sixteen Hundred Seconds Until Doomsday 06. Psychological Operations Part II: The Vietnam War 07. Techniques and Gadgets 08. RAND and COIN 09. Command and Control 10. Motivation and Morale 11. The Jasons Enter Vietnam 12. The Electronic Fence 13. The End of Vietnam Part III: Operations Other Than War 14. Rise of the Machines 15. Star Wars and Tank Wars 16. The Gulf War and Operations Other Than War 17. Biological Weapons 18. Transforming Humans for War Part IV: The War on Terror 19. Terror Strikes 20. Total Information Awareness 21. IED War 22. Combat Zones That See 23. Human Terrain Part V: Future War 24. Drone Wars 25. Brain Wars 26. The Pentagon’s Brain Photos Acknowledgments Also by Annie Jacobsen Notes List of Interviews and Written Correspondence Bibliography

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

    Use any adjective that beats UNBELIEVEABLE. I'll use the word Mind blowing. It's hard to believe that this is public information. DARPA is our government's top research/engineering company. Much of its information is classified...this book tells everything but the classified information. At times it's technical, but most of the book is very reader friendly. If only reading one chapter, read chapter 24 entitled "Drone Wars". You will think this has to be sci-fi as you read about the insect-drone Use any adjective that beats UNBELIEVEABLE. I'll use the word Mind blowing. It's hard to believe that this is public information. DARPA is our government's top research/engineering company. Much of its information is classified...this book tells everything but the classified information. At times it's technical, but most of the book is very reader friendly. If only reading one chapter, read chapter 24 entitled "Drone Wars". You will think this has to be sci-fi as you read about the insect-drone prototypes. In the biometrics programs they have developed biohybrids called cyborgs--real insects/birds/animals with spying/military capabilities. Nanobiotechnology uses tiny machines wired into animals' brains, bodies, and wings. For example scientists have implanted electrodes to a microprocessor sewn into a rat's back and from a laptop 500 meters away they can send electronic impulses to the rat's brain to do whatever deed they need done. It is mind blowing....READ THIS BOOK and feel PROUD of our advances in science.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Steve Tetreault

    Wow - I thought I would go into this book with plenty of fore-knowledge and spend most of the reading going, "Yes, I am so well-informed that I already knew all of these 'secret' things - ha ha!" Nope. I'm not a tinfoil-hat wearer, but I can believe a lot of what is being put forward in this book, and it's pretty eye-opening. This book covers so much ground that I had never even considered before. It's really a bit frightening to realize how many of the scientific advances in psychology and human Wow - I thought I would go into this book with plenty of fore-knowledge and spend most of the reading going, "Yes, I am so well-informed that I already knew all of these 'secret' things - ha ha!" Nope. I'm not a tinfoil-hat wearer, but I can believe a lot of what is being put forward in this book, and it's pretty eye-opening. This book covers so much ground that I had never even considered before. It's really a bit frightening to realize how many of the scientific advances in psychology and human behavior came pretty much directly as a result of the military looking to "mess" with enemies. Not to mention that the military has consistently been a decade or more ahead of the public, technology-wise, and that the things we think are so amazing are the pieces that were made public after their effectiveness as tools of war had been negated by years of use. All in all, this is a pretty fascinating read.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Harker US Library

    The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency, is original, provocative, and unforgettable. Starting with the nuclear device Castle Bravo, to the biomedical engineering of limb regeneration, Annie Jacobsen takes us behind-the-scenes to show what military technology is really doing. As a history book, this book was far from boring. Jacobsen's writing is fluid and nothing like the writing in textbooks. The topics outlined in the book are very i The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency, is original, provocative, and unforgettable. Starting with the nuclear device Castle Bravo, to the biomedical engineering of limb regeneration, Annie Jacobsen takes us behind-the-scenes to show what military technology is really doing. As a history book, this book was far from boring. Jacobsen's writing is fluid and nothing like the writing in textbooks. The topics outlined in the book are very interesting and sometimes altogether shocking. However, given Jacobsen's reputation, some scenes, I felt, strayed a bit far from reality. While most of the facts were taken from many sources, some "facts" only came from one source. All in all, whether you take it as fact or fiction, The Pentagon's Brain is a very enjoyable ride.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.