Military History Patrick Wright Tank

ISBN 13: 9780142001912

Tank

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9780142001912: Tank

When the first tanks lumbered onto the battlefields of the Western Front in 1916, they created an enduring myth and tapped into deep currents in the 20th-century mind: into ideas of unstoppable progress and of technological futurism. The tank, always more than the sum of its mechanical parts, is a social and cultural object, partly mythical, a curious compound of fact and fantasy, surrounded by legend. Going beyond military history, this book examines the tank's development as a 20th-century icon. In some ways it was a product of the artistic imagination (it was prefigured in the work of Leonardo da Vinci and H.G. Wells), and part of its effectiveness as a weapon is its mesmerizing visual impact. It has been a component of many enduring 20th-century images: the Blitzkrieg, the Polish cavalry charge, the Desert War, Tiananmen Square and, in Operation Desert Storm, the harbinger of a new, computer-age warfare of simulators and virtual-reality systems. The book's content encompasses discussion of the tank photo-opportunity (as used by Lenin, Margaret Thatcher and George Bush), women in tanks, and the curious case of the tank in Turkey which, by way of punishment for mechanical failure, was made to stand under guard on a hillside.

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About the Author:

Patrick Wright is an author and professor of modern cultural studies at Nottingham Trent University.

From Publishers Weekly:

Beginning with H.G. Wells's 1903 premonitions of tanklike creatures, Wright (The Village that Died for England) traces the cultural history of a kill vehicle variously called "behemoth," "landship" and even "Mother." Wright's exhaustive research offers a treasure trove of facts usually eclipsed in conventional military or technical histories. The early attention-getting potential of the creatures ("male" or "female," depending on their armament) during WWI was used to demoralizing effect on German troops and as a successful fund-raising tool by the British, whose "tank bank" war bonds proved popular. Such potential was not lost on subsequent champions of the ungainly machine in the interwar period, from the British tactician J.F.C. Fuller to the unholy trinity of Guderian, Rommel and Hitler, simultaneously the tank's greatest and most disastrous deployers. As authoritarian regimes rose, so did Western PR campaigns showing the tank as the symbol of liberation (from fascism and bolshevism), while paradoxically, Wright argues, the tank subsequently began to appear primarily as a tool governments use to control their own people. Wright, a professor of modern cultural studies at the U.K.'s Nottingham Trent University, also covers the suicidal heroism of Soviet women tankers in WWII and talks with Israel Tal about his singular design for Israel's Merkava. While the book's scope is somewhat skewed toward Britain, ignoring Asian tank development and deployment, the WWII Pacific theater and Vietnam, Wright brings vital social and microhistorical data to military history and fleshes out the story of one of the 2oth century's most powerful, destructive and highly symbolic creations. Photos. (On sale Apr. 29)Forecast: This book's iconic subject and cultural savvy should bring in readers who don't normally pick up military history. Look for sales to grow as reviews chime in; the book got great press when published in the U.K. in 2000.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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