The Pentagon's Brain

The Pentagon's Brain

An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top Secret Military Research Agency

Book - 2015
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Since its inception in 1958, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, has grown to become the Defense Department's most secret, most powerful, and most controversial military science research and development agency. Created by President Eisenhower to prevent another Sputnik, and to focus primarily on defensive programs against nuclear weapons, the agency--and its imagination and scope--has expanded enormously with each passing year. From Agent Orange in Vietnam to insect-sized drones in use today, from the earliest networked computers and the Internet to smart rockets and war zones under 24-hour video surveillance, DARPA is responsible for innovations that have changed the course of war, national security, and strategic planning at the highest levels. To uncover the secret history of DARPA in action, journalist Annie Jacobsen tracked down key players in DARPA's Smart Weapons Program, past and present; neuroscientists building an artificial brain, cell biologists working on limb regeneration, the Nobel laureate who invented the laser. From DARPA's earliest defensive advances to hundreds of ongoing programs, Jacobsen exposes both sides of the DARPA coin: the fantastic technological advances from which we all benefit, and the darker side drawn up in a race for military supremacy. Based on information from inside sources, exclusive interviews, private documents, and declassified memos, The Pentagon's Brain reads like science fiction but is absolutely true, a groundbreaking look behind the scenes at the clandestine intersection of science and the American military.--Publisher information.
Publisher: New York, NY :, Little, Brown and Company,, 2015.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780316371766
Branch Call Number: 355.070973 Jac
Characteristics: viii, 552 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm


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Aug 08, 2018

Overall, the book is well written (with a few exceptions) and worth reading. BUT... I listened to the audio book (read by the author) and CANNOT recommend that. Her pronunciation of various people and acronyms sound like she's reading the material for the first time. Just terribly grating. Get the printed book, don't bother with the audiobook.

Jan 26, 2018

Good book, with great stories behind the early days of the cold war, the Vietnam war.

Unfortunately, it was taking me forever to read - I returned it before finishing.

Nov 02, 2015

I was extremely critical of Jacobsen's previous two books, but she appears to have improved considerably since them. My major two criticisms are her repetition of Adm. Poindexter's justifications for the Total Information Awareness program [maybe he really was that far out of the loop, but don't be confused - - after-action congressional investigations proved that the CIA knew about the hijackers' activities in America, just as the NSA knew whom they were surveilling, as they had been tasked by the CIA to do communications surveillance on them] and her writing about the assassination of Diem of Vietnam and the Kennedy administration - - never ironclad verification, since the Watergate taped conversation between the CIA's Lucien Conein and E. Howard Hunt proved that Bobby Kennedy was against the coup and repeatedly told them not to take any action, and Hunt's comments on creating a false cable signed by President Kennedy, and the reports that JFK was furious when he learned of Diem's murder - - 20 days before he too would die by assassination!
Props and applause for Jacobsen for mentioning Nexus 7 and Map-HT and her pointed comments on them, echoing similar I have heard [since she didn't mention a synthesis of those two programs, Simulacrum, I assume she's unfamiliar with it????].
With this book Jacobsen appears much more analytical, not simply robotically repeating fanciful whoppers some clownish sort has foisted upon her!
[My personal thanks to her - - in her Acknowledgements she mentions the coincidental meeting between former Pararescueman, CMSgt. Boles and Rip Jacobs, the crewmember he rescued. Recall CMSgt. Boles from my military service, he was an ornery type!]

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