NATIONAL BESTSELLER A Pulitzer Prize Finalist and 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.
An Amazon Best Book of September 2015: If you’re searching for an obtuse, synapse-dulling book on DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and its mission to create breakthrough military technologies, look elsewhere. Jacobsen’s nimble account of the ultra-secret R&D arm of the Defense Department engagingly details the shrouded history of the organization, starting with its genesis during the nuclear arms race and covering its efforts up through today. In her final section, Jacobsen offers solid but chilling conjectures on what covert programs DARPA is focused on now. Jacobsen (a journalist and the author of Operation Paperclip and Area 51) strikes a balance between lauding the technology leaps driven by DARPA and pointing out that the ultimate goal is to create wartime tools to guarantee U.S. dominance. DARPA’s successes include lighter machine guns (developed for slighter-bodied soldiers during the Vietnamese war and now standard U.S. issue), the Internet, GPS, and drones. Says Jacobsen, “DARPA creates, DARPA dominates, and when sent to the battlefield, DARPA destroys.” But, Jacobsen also asks, “what if some of these ‘dramatic new capabilities’ are not such a great idea?”
Hawks will find plenty of meat in here to fuel their arguments for the value of top-secret U.S. military programs. At the same time, doves will be well bolstered to pose uncomfortable questions about the worthiness of such activities in a free country. Thoughtful and nuanced, The Pentagon’s Brain will ask you to use your brain as well.–Adrian Liang