The Invention That Changed the World: How a Small Group of Radar Pioneers Won the Second World War and Launched a Technological Revolution

Robert Buderi, Author Simon & Schuster $30 (576p) ISBN 978-0-684-81021-8
As the former technology editor for Business Week, Buderi understands his complex subject well enough to render it clear without oversimplifying it. The first half of his book makes a strong case that the atomic bomb only ended WWII--it was radar that won it. Radar tipped the balance in the Battle of Britain, at Midway and in the Solomons. Radar haunted the U-boats and helped control the V-1 attacks of 1944-45. Meanwhile, radar countermeasures and navigation systems set the stage for the D-Day landings. Buderi tells this story well, with an unusual ability to describe technical subjects in language a nonspecialist can comprehend. In the second half of the book, he devotes half a dozen chapters to biographical sketches of key, albeit little-known, participants in the wartime radar program. Finally, the author brings to center stage radar technology's contributions to the Cold War and to space astronomy. While this concluding discussion is informative, it scants other areas influenced by radar. Subjects such as air-traffic control and weather reporting deserve better than relegation to an epilogue. Overall, this is a vigorous history, but an unfocused one. Photos, not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/02/1996
Release date: 10/01/1996
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Paperback - 576 pages - 978-0-684-83529-7
Hardcover - 575 pages - 978-0-349-11068-4
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