Accessory to War (audiobook)

The Unspoken Alliance between Astrophysics and the Military

Read by Courtney B. Vance, with Prologue read by Neil deGrasse Tyson
18.5 hrs • 15 CDs • Unabridged
Target Audience: Adult
Release Date: 09/11/18
Library CD Library Edition CD titles are packaged in an attractive, full-sized, durable vinyl case with full color art. Cloth Sleeves keep compact discs protected and in numerical order. 
- 09/11/18 9781984833983
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New York Times bestseller

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 centuries-old relationship between science and military power, acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and writer-researcher Avis Lang examine how the methods and tools of astrophysics have been enlisted in the service of war. "The overlap is strong, and the knowledge flows in both directions," say the authors, because astrophysicists and military planners care about many of the same things: multi-spectral detection, ranging, tracking, imaging, high ground, nuclear fusion, and access to space. Tyson and Lang call it a "curiously complicit" alliance. "The universe is both the ultimate frontier and the highest of high grounds," they write. "Shared by both space scientists and space warriors, it's a laboratory for one and a battlefield for the other. The explorer wants to understand it; the soldier wants to dominate it. But without the right technology--which is more or less the same technology for both parties--nobody can get to it, operate in it, scrutinize it, dominate it, or use it to their advantage and someone else's disadvantage."

Spanning early celestial navigation to satellite-enabled warfare, Accessory to War is a richly researched and provocative examination of the intersection of science, technology, industry, and power that will introduce Tyson's millions of fans to yet another dimension of how the universe has shaped our lives and our world.

Review Quotes

“DeGrasse Tyson reads the introduction, and he does a terrific job. He has a silky, deep voice, and he paces himself well. He could credibly read the entire work himself, but instead he hands off the audiobook to Courtney B. Vance, whose voice is just as deep but more formal, even regal. Vance does a magnificent job continuing the story with a tone that supports Tyson and Lang’s words. The result is an audiobook that speaks to all of us, even those who know little about astrophysics.”


“This enlightening book explores the history and current implications of this partnership between space science and national security.”

Walter Isaacson, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“A wonderful book and a fascinating read, full of amazing stories, all backed up with deep scholarship.”

John Mather, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics

“A sweeping panoramic overview of the enduring alliance between astrophysics and the military―from the Greeks to Galileo to GPS.”


“The authors deliver a history that is broader than its subtitle suggests; though Tyson is a space scientist, the military-industrial complex leverages workers in every scientific discipline, from agronomy to zoology…An intriguing history. Look for mines and ray guns on the final frontier, for, as the authors conclude, ‘what a country funds is what that country prioritizes.’”

Kirkus Reviews

“A much-needed read for both policymakers and the public.”

Joan Johnson-Freese, professor of national security affairs, Naval War College

“Beautifully combining a clear account of cutting-edge astrophysics and politics with a 3000-year historical perspective, this book deserves not only to be read but become a guide for those who hope for a better, survivable, near future.”

Walter LaFeber, Tisch Distinguished University Professor Emeritus, Cornell University