When British tanks first crawled onto the battlefields in September 1916, they inspired laughter as well as dread. But these 'big jokes' went on to transform the nature of ground warfare forever. For this captivating narrative of the tank's history, Patrick Wright went to arms factories and military bases around the world. He was the first western writer to be received by the First Warsaw Tank Brigade after the disintegration of the Soviet bloc, and he discussed Operation Desert Storm with the US Army's Armour Centre in Fort Knox. The tank, Wright discovers, is as much a terrifying cultural phantom as a practical war machine. He gives us the tank's fascinating story through the eyes of the people who have tried to face up to it - from the renegade artists in Prague who painted a Soviet memorial tank pink, to the solitary protester in Tiananmen Square whose bravery touched the world.
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Patrick Wright specialises in taking a specific, seemingly narrow subject for scrutiny, and opening it out into a survey of much wider horizons and concerns. A previous work of his, The Village That Died For England, took as its theme the remote, deserted village of Tyneham, Dorset, on the south coast of England, and turned it into a symbol of the entire history of 20th-century Britain: a quite brilliant achievement. And Wright is every bit as unexpectedly illuminating, challenging and broad ranging in his latest study, of the tank. From its lumbering debut appearance in the first full-scale tank attack, at Cambrai on the Western Front in November 1917, to the unforgettable image of the lone protester with his plastic shopping bag, holding up an entire armoured column in Tiananmen Square in 1989, the tank has always inspired awe, pride, terror and even a kind of desperate, hysterical laughter. In its future incarnations, the tank will become the cybertank, if the dreams of the boys at the US Army Armor Center at Fort Knox, Kentucky are ever realised: fully digitised, unmanned machines that will operate in a kind of virtual reality--except, of course, for the maimings and killings inflicted on human flesh, which will have a more old-fashioned kind of reality. Wright is acerbic, combative, powerfully perceptive about the tank as both machine and metaphor for the mechanisation of human life, and his long, hard look at this modern Behemoth, both fascinated and appalled, is utterly compelling. -- Christopher HartReview:
(Patrick Wright) remarkably, has succeeded in making his history of this monstrous war machine immensely readable -- Sunday Telegraph, 2 September 2001
Wright's book is unexpectedly fascinating... He is one of our best contemporary writers. -- Sunday Times, 2 September 2001
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Book Description Penguin Books, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0142001910
Book Description Penguin Books, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110142001910
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