Instruments of War
Weapons and Technologies That Have Changed History
by Spencer C. Tucker
July 2015, 428pp, 7x10
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3654-1
$108, £84, 94€, A148
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3655-8
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The U.S. decision to drop the atomic bomb may have saved many more Japanese lives.

This highly detailed and well-illustrated single-volume work documents the evolution of warfare across history through weaponry and technological change.

In war, the weapons and technologies employed have direct effects on how battles are waged. When new weapons are introduced, they can dramatically alter the outcomes of warfare—and consequently change the course of history itself. This reference work provides a fascinating overview of the major weapon systems and military technologies that have had a major impact on world history.

Addressing weapons as crude as the club used by primitive man to the high-tech weapons of today such as unmanned drones, Instruments of War: Weapons and Technologies That Have Changed History offers nearly 270 profusely illustrated entries that examine the key roles played by specific weapons and identify their success and failures. The book begins with an introductory essay that frames the subject matter of the work and discusses the history of weapons as a whole. The text is concise and accessible to general readers without extensive backgrounds in military history yet provides the detailed information necessary to convey the complexity of the evolution of warfare through technological change.


  • Contains more than 260 entries of weapons and technological changes
  • Features 25 sidebars that provide interesting insights as to the employment of the weapons and changes
  • Appropriate for students in high school, college, and military academies as well as general readers interested in the history of weaponry
  • Provides a bibliography and index
Spencer C. Tucker, PhD, has been senior fellow in military history at ABC-CLIO since 2003. He is the author or editor of 52 books and encyclopedias treating military and naval history, many of which have won prestigious awards. Tucker's last academic position before his retirement from university teaching was the John Biggs Chair in Military History at the Virginia Military Institute. He has been a Fulbright scholar, a U.S. Army captain and intelligence analyst in the Pentagon, and a visiting research associate at the Smithsonian Institution. His recently published works include ABC-CLIO's World War I: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection and American Civil War: The Definitive Encyclopedia and Document Collection, which was Booklist's Outstanding Reference Work for 2013 and also won the Society of Military History Award for Best Reference Work in Military History that same year.


"Recommended for high school and undergraduate libraries and public libraries whose patrons need accurate and brief summaries. Summing Up: Recommended. Undergraduates; community college students; general readers."—Choice, April 1, 2016
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