Gunpowder: Alchemy, Bombards, and Pyrotechnics: The History of the Explosive That Changed the World

Gunpowder Alchemy Bombards and Pyrotechnics The History of the Explosive That Changed the World When Chinese alchemists fashioned the first manmade explosion sometime during the tenth century no one could have foreseen its full revolutionary potential Invented to frighten evil spirits rather th

  • Title: Gunpowder: Alchemy, Bombards, and Pyrotechnics: The History of the Explosive That Changed the World
  • Author: Jack Kelly
  • ISBN: 9780465037186
  • Page: 130
  • Format: Hardcover
  • When Chinese alchemists fashioned the first manmade explosion sometime during the tenth century, no one could have foreseen its full revolutionary potential Invented to frighten evil spirits rather than fuel guns or bombs neither of which had been thought of yet their simple mixture of saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal went on to make the modern world possible As word of iWhen Chinese alchemists fashioned the first manmade explosion sometime during the tenth century, no one could have foreseen its full revolutionary potential Invented to frighten evil spirits rather than fuel guns or bombs neither of which had been thought of yet their simple mixture of saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal went on to make the modern world possible As word of its explosive properties spread from Asia to Europe, from pyrotechnics to battleships, it paved the way for Western exploration, hastened the end of feudalism and the rise of the nation state, and greased the wheels of the Industrial Revolution.With dramatic immediacy, novelist and journalist Jack Kelly conveys both the distant time in which the devil s distillate rose to conquer the world, and brings to rousing life the eclectic cast of characters who played a role in its epic story, including Michelangelo, Edward III, Vasco da Gama, Cortez, Guy Fawkes, Alfred Nobel, and E.I DuPont A must read for history fans and military buffs alike, Gunpowder brings together a rich terrain of cultures and technological innovations with authoritative research and swashbuckling style.

    One thought on “Gunpowder: Alchemy, Bombards, and Pyrotechnics: The History of the Explosive That Changed the World”

    1. Where to start with this book? Honestly, I love chemistry, pop sci, AND history. I love a well written story, took. You'd think I'd have loved this book but I just couldn't. Not because it wasn't any of these things, but because of the lack of citations. It really got on my nerves when I wanted to learn more but couldn't even follow the rabbit hole. As a history of chemistry, history of one of the world's most prominent tool in war, this was a fabulous book. Read it with a light heart, open mind [...]

    2. I loved this book and only gave it 3 stars because I dont think its a great book for everyone. The book gives a detailed history of the invention and progress of gunpowder manufacturing. It is a very easy read with some terminology and jargon that you may have to look up, but overall I believe it to be very approachable for the everyday reader. Kelly does a good job of pointing out how the use of gunpowder affected history and for me brought to light how important a few inventors and chemists we [...]

    3. ممتع جدا بالنسبة لي بيشرح "كيف بدأ كل ذلك" :Dبيبدأ مع اختراع الصينيين للبارود واستخداماته الأولى في الألعاب النارية وعروض الحواة، وبعدها بداية التفكير في استخدامه كسلاح، والعقبات التي واجهت إنتاج نترات البوتاسيوم (المكون الرئيسي للبارود) بكميات كبيرة. ثم انتقاله لأوروبا وال [...]

    4. This was an very interesting and readable book. The author covers the entire history of gunpowder. While much of the content is naturally taken up by the interplay of the development of gunpowder and artillery/firearms, he also touches on civilian uses. I like that he clearly explains the incremental enhancements in formulation and manufacture over time with clear exposition of the value to end use applications at each stage. After this one, I will definitely look for more books by Jack Kelly.

    5. To me this is a five-star book. All about one of the most important inventions of all time, and proves beyond doubt the importance of chemistry. The major (75%) ingredient is potassium nitrate, which was often difficult and expensive to obtain. Its unique property was to give off oxygen when heated, a property I have personally demonstrated in a chemistry lab.Also includes a significant amount of information on gun development from the earliest hand cannon to post-civil war, and the effects on w [...]

    6. I recently read a book about how the Mongols changed the world. The Mongols took the Chinese invention of gunpowder and used it during their conquests. But it was the Europeans that really took the ball and ran with it. Goes to show that it's not who invents something first, it's who maximizes its utility.The book is very accessible, easy to read, but not simple and full of interesting detail. It's an ideal gateway book to inspire research into other areas. It's fascinating that even today gunpo [...]

    7. Fun (really!) popular history of gunpowder, which started and ended its career as a propellant for fireworks, and in between fueled wars between men and nations, at land and sea.One interesting point made by Kelly is that gunpowder was an early human technology that was developed and refined by practitioners, who had an imperfect understanding of how it worked, and not theoreticians, who often had NO understanding of how it worked. And in fact gunpowder as a technology was superseded before scie [...]

    8. I appreciate the growing level of confidence that if through a freak accident involving a skunkworks time travel project, a dimensional flutter, or odd encounter with Mark Twain in a San Francisco back street I was warped to 13th/14th century Europe I would be able to earn my keep improving the state of the gunpowder industry.Which is the secret hope of everyone reading popular histories of technology -- after all you've got to cover your bases.I can't help but think this will serve me better in [...]

    9. Jack Kelly's Gunpowder is a combination wonderful historical narrative with touches of science dotted throughout. From its' roots in China to the battlefields of the Civil War gunpowder has had a destructive, but yet fascinating impact on mankind. What I liked most about this were the fascinating bits of stories of individuals whose lives were affected by the substance. From a Confederate soldier attempting to dig himself a hole at Gettysburg to child soldiers on running powder to gunners on Eng [...]

    10. This was a really fun, informational read. Full of anecdotes and details about the people and events that shaped the way gunpowder was used, while giving the reader an understanding of how gunpowder changed the world. My personal favorite was the story about how, when rifling was first invented, they held an experiment to test whether the spinning of the bullets was attracting or repelling demons, thereby influencing the accuracy. This book gave me an appreciation for both the science and the ma [...]

    11. Gunpowder is the thousand year story of the development of black powder. The book was interesting, but I got the feeling that everything was being skimmed over. Obviously there is a lot of material to cover, so it is understandable. I would have liked some more diagrams to illustrate some of the points the author was talking about. Overall, it was a good read and I definitely learned a lot about the history of the "devil's distillate". I would recommend brushing up on your American History befor [...]

    12. This book was fun though less focused on the science of gunpowder than I expected. Still, Kelly takes the reader through the beginning, apogee and decline of the use of this quite versatile mixture. In that process he analyses both its immediate impact as well as its long lasting effect on both the sciences and on civilization as a whole. Lastly, though sometimes disconnected, Kelly’s prose is for the most part fluid and very easy to read, allowing an interested reader to learn quite a bit of [...]

    13. A very good introduction to a specialized subject. Kelly does a fine job explaining the challenges faced in developing gunpowder in the "West" and in the "East" and comparing the two experiences. He also does a good job addressing but not belaboring the moral implications of science and technology employed solely to build bigger and more effective (at killing) weapons. Well researched, cited and informative.

    14. Gunpowder's effect on history. Now, becuase the propellent used in firearms is not actually (unless you are an enthusiast for "black powder" firearms) gunpoweder, it is back where it started from; fireworks

    15. A quick history of gunpowder. Some very interesting stuff about its development and use. It could have been longer and I wouldn't have minded at all.

    16. Very engrossing, enlightening history of gunpowder. Never dragged on, vivid use of imagery captures the imagination.

    17. Kind of dry, but pretty thorough. And if you can't be blowing stuff up, the next best thing is to read about it.

    18. An excellent book that takes the reader from the use of Greek Fire into the development and use of gunpowder and on to the use of explosives in warfare.

    19. Excellently presented history of gunpowder; loved the overview presented on the development of the US gunpowder industry

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