American Arsenal Book Launch

14 May 2014
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

University Press Books

Event Type
Non-CSTMS Event

Patrick Coffey

Join scholar Patrick Coffey for his book event at the University Press Books on Bancroft Way, Berkeley.

In American Arsenal, Patrick Coffey examines America’s military transformation from an isolationist state to a world superpower. Focusing on fifteen specific developments, Coffey illustrates the unplanned, often haphazard nature of this transformation, which has been driven by political, military, technological, and commercial interests. Beginning with Thomas Edison’s work on submarine technology, American Arsenal moves from World War I to the present conflicts in the Middle East, covering topics from chemical weapons, strategic bombing, and the nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union, to “smart” bombs, hand-held anti-aircraft missiles, and the Predator and other drone aircrafts. Coffey traces the story of each advance in weaponry from drawing board to battlefield, and includes fascinating portraits of the men who invented and deployed them -Edward Teller, “the father of the hydrogen bomb,” Robert Oppenheimer, head of atomic bomb design at Los Alamos; Curtis LeMay, who led the fire-bombing of Japan; Herman Kahn, nuclear strategist and a model for Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove; Abraham Karem, inventor of the Predator, and many others. Coffey also examines the increasingly detached nature of modern American warfare—the ultimate goal is to remove soldiers from the battlefield entirely- which limits casualties (211,454 in Vietnam and only 1,231 in the Gulf War)—but also lessens the political and psychological costs of going to war.

Patrick Coffey was born in 1945 in Chicago, Illinois and received a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from St. Louis University in 1973. He has founded or co-founded several companies that develop chemical instrumentation and software. “Cathedrals of Science,” his first book, won the 2008 PROSE prize for the best book on chemistry or physics published by a scholarly press. He is at present a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.

Our Events

Other Events of Interest