Comprehensive History. This tome – and yes, at 600+ pages of dense yet readable text, “tome” certainly applies – is easily the most comprehensive history of guns and firepower I’ve ever come across. Covering nearly 600 or so years from the mid 15th century’s initial adoption of guns in scale to medieval Europe (thus breaking the hold of the pikemen) to their ultimate forms in WWII era Europe and the beginning of the age of rocketry, this book covers all of the great innovations in all level of firearms from small arms to artillery to naval and, finally, air, cannons. Those looking for exacting details on particular developments will probably want to look for more specific books about the particular development you’re interested in, but as an overview of the field, this book truly does a phenomenal job of showing the various developments of firearms and how they shifted the way nations make war – thus shifting the very way nations work, period. All of the high points most anyone who knows anything about guns knows are here, and there is actually quite a bit here that this reader – who generally considers himself decently well-versed in history – had never heard of, such as the naval battle at Turkey in the middle of the 19th century that saw the first heavy use of explosive shot and thus signaled the beginning of the end of the wooden naval ship. Utterly fascinating work, if long. Still, truly very much recommended.
This review of Firepower by Paul Lockhart was originally written on September 13, 2021.