Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military” as Want to Read:
Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  3,471 ratings  ·  458 reviews
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 millennia-long relationship between science and military power, acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and writer Avis Lang examine how the methods and tools of astrophysics have been enlis
Kindle Edition, 580 pages
Published September 11th 2018 by W. W. Norton & Company
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Accessory to War, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Frank Solomon The Index runs from p.551 through p.576 and is a bit long to list as the answer to your question. Here's the Contents.

The Index runs from p.551 through p.576 and is a bit long to list as the answer to your question. Here's the Contents.

1.​A Time to Kill p3
2.​Star Power p38
3.​Sea Power p64
4.​Arming the Eye p100
5.​Unseen, Undetected, Unspoken p165
6.​Detection Stories p209
7.​Making War, Seeking Peace p234
8.​Space Power p317
9.​A Time to Heal p381
Acknowledgments p405
Notes p409
Selected Sources p535
Index p551(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.59  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,471 ratings  ·  458 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military
Brandon Forsyth
An alternate (and, arguably, better) title for this could be THE HISTORY OF ASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN LESS OF A HURRY, and it's just as fascinating and richly observed as Mr. Degrasse Tyson's slimmer volume from last year. Unfortunately, there's also a very long section in the middle that feels like an exhaustive attempt to find every UN declaration ever made about the use of outer space, and it really bogs down what has, up until that point, been a rollicking adventure through the ages. It's a ...more
Mario the lone bookwolf
The dawn of the emergence (the United States Space Force and similar programs of other states) of the scientific military astrophysical complex of the space industry.

Please note that I have put the original German text to the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.

It does not matter if a military doctrine is defensive and deterrent or offensive. Both variants have immense escalation potential.

Economic constraints decide on the research priorities. And the entire annual budget for as
"Many significant advances in our understanding of the cosmos are by-products of government investment in the apparatus of warfare, and many innovative instruments of destruction are by-products of advances in astrophysics."
Neil deGrasse Tyson expands on this statement by leaps and bounds in his book: Accessory to War: The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military. With almost 600 pages and nearly 19 hours via audio, Accessory to War is a mixture of science, history, e
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After wading through the pages of medieval history, old rudimentary inventions like longitude, and the CNN opinion-like pages of anger at the American military, you got like five pages on the actual weapons of space and some information about a space war.

The advertising and naming of this book was a smoke screen. It was 50% venting about how terrible we are as humans because we engage in war and spend money on it (which if you look at history, at least 50% of all nations energy went towards figh
Jon Stone
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. For anyone interested in the linkage between the missions of science and warfighting, this book is for you. I feel like I can tell the pages written by Dr. Tyson, and those written by Avis Lang. That may sound negative, but it’s not. I think the humor and perspective of Dr. Tyson comes through more with the contrast. Anyone interested in the early days of space (both military and civil) should give this a r ...more
Laura Noggle
Dry, nerdy, and straight up my alley. Not written for those with only a casual interest, this book reads like an academic dissertation ... with classic Neil deGrasse Tyson elan.

Compared to the fluffy, broad strokes of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, Accessory to War is chock full of factoids as well as space, science, and political jargon.

I wrote my MA thesis on international outer space law and the militarization of outer space with a focus on the US, China, and Russia—all topics this boo
Scott  Hitchcock
Jan 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Very informative. Somewhat entertaining.
Ben Vogel
More promising in the title than the content delivered. I heard Dr. Tyson talking about his book on Joe Rogan's podcast and decided to read the book. Unfortunately NdGT was more entertaining and informative in those 2 hours of interview than in this book, which focused more on geopolitics than it did on the connections between science, military, and astrophysics. More like an infield hit off the dirt than the double off the wall that I was hoping for. ...more
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I know I’m not the only one who holds Neil DeGrasse Tyson in high regard. Even though he’s the most visible proponent for science these days (move over Dawkins and Nye), the man has been met with criticism. Most of them stem from people who, honestly, don’t like their bubble being burst. But they do live in a bubble, and they should know not to shoot the messenger. Criticize NDT all you want for how nerdy he is and how dumb his astrophysics vests are, but the man has a wealth of knowledge floati ...more
Lance Johnson
I was incredibly disappointed by this book, and while some parts of it could be called ‘decent’ it was not what it was advertised to be. I picked this book up primarily due to it having Neil deGrasse Tyson’s name on the cover, having enjoyed most of his other books previously, but also due to my interest in the book’s topic. The book mostly lacked Tyson’s typical optimistic wonder nor did it stick to the topic on the cover. I got the feeling that this book never quite figured out what it wanted ...more
A detailed account of the impact of specific sciences on military advancement and the resulting outcomes. Heavy on the military angle--for those who think this is going to be another popular physics book. This is not a deep dive into the theory of various physics and engineering disciplines, but instead a meshing of where funding comes from, politics, how projects are prioritized, what this prioritization does to science advancement on the global scale, how current events shape the ideals of the ...more
Mark Lawry
I'm a huge admirer of Tyson so I really hate to report that this book is all over the place. Perhaps a better title would be What Scientists and Others Have Done to End War. He could have even added a few 100 pages on how scientific discoveries found in developing weapons have been converted to civilian applications to improve our lives. In fact, I'm sure just this book has been written many times by many people. Reading this you'll learn a lot about how sailors navigated by the stars over the c ...more
Aug 31, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the most boring book in the world. It feels like Tyson wrote this as an essay for school but wasn't really interested in the subject at all. Reading it felt like an obligation. No fun at all. Sorry, Neil. ...more
Amanda Van Parys
I enjoyed this book and I'm still confused as to why the title is "The Unspoken Alliance Between Astrophysics and the Military" when it was more like "Space and the Military." Overall, I can see the relationship, but specifically, I mostly didn't see the relationship because it felt like astrophysics itself was barely explained. However, I am not an astrophysicist and possess a bare minimum of scientific knowledge and in all honesty I'm operating at about 3% of the brain capacity of Neil deGrass ...more
Angie Reisetter
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-related
This is fantastic look at the history of astrophysics and its intersection with warming, much more thorough and well-sourced than most of Dr. Tyson's writing. It's aimed at an audience that wants to get into the weeds, so not those in a hurry.

The first few chapters were interesting, but mostly in the realm of things I had heard before. The message came across as: "Psst, some technologies developed for war are also useful in science and vice versa". Not exactly earth-shattering. The technologies
Roger Smitter
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book needs to be read by every congressperson and their advisors as well as every college faculty member. At the same time, every college/university physicist should read explain this book to every social science and humanities faculty member.

deGrasse Tyson challenges us — in a very accessible way — to understand how humans have made war increasingly dangerous not just for the combatants but also the rest of us. He tells us how war has also been connected to the tools of physics. He doesn’
Cathy Hodge
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, text-book level amount of history about scientific innovations and military advancements. Space, data, and the new "High-ground." I liked how this book had global information and did NOT just focus on American history and American scientific research. It was a bit like learning how sausage is made...… not pleasant to see the political machine at work... but necessary to get the research off the ground. What will be next on the great frontier? ...more
Russ Szelag
I was very disappointed with this. It reads like a term paper. I doubt that Tyson wrote much of this. The authors fill numerous pages with mundane information, such as how spyglasses were useful in the 18th and 19th centuries.
This book is jam packed with so much great information and history. I read this with my husband (audio). We often would feel a bit mind-blown after listening sessions. I feel this book brought me to a new awareness on astronomy and the history of it and how it related to war. All that said, the ending was quick and a bit of a let-down. I can forgive him because the book itself is a treasure trove.
Oct 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this book fascinating! I especially liked the parts towards the beginning that went into the evolution of certain game-changing technologies (such as telescopes).

If you have any interest in the history of technology and science, or in the politics of space, you should definitely pick this book up!
Lupine Smile
Some interesting parts but far too long winded and not enough science for my taste. The book could not decide if it was a work on science or the philosophical reasoning for war. Never really found its footing.
John Munro
Needs to be organized a bit better. Too much chronological jumping around. Otherwise an interesting read.
Jul 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science, history, politics
That science and technology are often advanced by military and political needs seems obvious. So much so, that the words “unspoken alliance” in the subtitle seem sensationalistic and disingenuous. Indeed, there are a lot of things that are of dual applicability. For example, explosives have both military and commercial application, and there is little to no technological difference. The same dual applicability applies to physical science and military science, physics instrumentation and military ...more
Maddy Angstreich
Took me 1 billion years to finish. “Science for non science majors” class did not prepare me
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
A lot of history I had already read from previous books so if you are not familiar with the inventions and how telescopes and other astronomy and physics progressed through history than it would be of more interest. A little slow going for me but a good lesson in history.
Anuraag Sharma
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Very HIGHLY recommended!

We pride ourselves on our scientific achievements but fail to realise that SCIENCE has largely been slave to WAR.

Maybe Wars aren't that bad!
Or maybe Science without Wars would be even better!

Also, what would you rather pay for?

The ideas in the book weren't new to me but the examples and elaborate explanations were an eye opener.

Accessory to War indeed!
Wes F
Sep 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting look at the convergence of astrophysics/science and the military/war. Some of it pretty deep--literally, deep space. Very informative regarding the race for space & all the developments that have been spawned for a variety of uses from this field. Listened to the audiobook on my iPhone--borrowed from the library.
Nisha D
Jun 30, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I generally enjoy Neil Degrasse Tyson, but this audiobook was long winded and boring. I only made it about 20% of the way through before I lost interest and gave up.
According to the authors notes, this book was a work in progress for more than 10 years. From the content, it's obvious that a great real of research was put into this book. Of the 500+ pages, more than 150 of them are references, footnotes and authors notes. From that it's clear that this is not a light reading book like most of Dr. Tyson's books.

Even though large sections of this book read like a college text book, being filled with names dates and other historical data, there is a lot of stuf
Jun 13, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: alphabet-club
At some point in my life I guess I really thought I was interested in astrophysics and that is how Accessory to War ended up on my kindle. Well. I was wrong. Very wrong.

To call it detailed, would be a huge understatement. For starters, over 30% of the book is just notes supporting the preceding content. This reads like a textbook, and contains all the humor of one. Also, it leans very heavily on the military side of things - more so than the astrophysics side. There is ZERO fun in this book, but
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: please can combine this books? 1 7 Jan 05, 2021 10:57AM  
How To Discover The Right Model Car Club 1 2 May 30, 2020 11:34AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Books do Furnish a Life: An electrifying celebration of science writing
  • Mercury Rising: John Glenn, John Kennedy, and the New Battleground of the Cold War
  • The Life-Changing Science of Detecting Bullshit
  • The Future of Humanity: Terraforming Mars, Interstellar Travel, Immortality and Our Destiny Beyond Earth
  • Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind-Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think
  • The Space Barons: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the Quest to Colonize the Cosmos
  • When Men Behave Badly: The Hidden Roots of Sexual Deception, Harassment, and Assault
  • Alien Oceans: The Search for Life in the Depths of Space
  • The Assault on Intelligence: American National Security in an Age of Lies
  • Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
  • The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking)
  • Crowded Orbits: Conflict and Cooperation in Space
  • Against Atheism: Why Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris Are Fundamentally Wrong
  • Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Obstacles to a Science of Consciousness
  • The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today
  • The Making of Modern Liberalism
  • Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology
  • It's Elemental: The Hidden Chemistry in Everything
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Neil deGrasse Tyson was born and raised in New York City where he was educated in the public schools clear through his graduation from the Bronx High School of Science. Tyson went on to earn his BA in Physics from Harvard and his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia.

Tyson's professional research interests are broad, but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our

Articles featuring this book

Writing doesn't have to be a solo journey. That's why we reached out to some of today's most dynamic writing duos to give their best...
124 likes · 36 comments
“...exploration is hardly ever motivated by the desire to explore. Part the curtains of curiosity, and you'll find individuals hungry for political, cultural, or economic dominion funding the expedition.” 3 likes
“Space exploration may pull in the talent, but war pays the bills.” 3 likes
More quotes…