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GUNPOWDER - 20th Sep 2016

Gunpowder: A History of the Explosive that Changed the World
By Jack Kelly

Apparently, Chinese alchemists invented gunpowder to frighten evil spirits way back in the 10th century.  It was a mixture of saltpetre, sulphur and charcoal (well, it probably still is - clearly I am one who should read this book all the way through instead of skimming!).

It is probably responsible for Western expansionism, the industrial revolution, the end of feudalism, and all sorts of technological innovations.

This book about gunpowder blends science and technology with military, economic. and social history.  It also gives some fascinating insights into people as diverse as Guy Fawkes (no surprise there), Hernan Cortes (less obvious) and Michelangelo (a bit of an unexpected entrant in the cast of gunpowder heroes).  

Wendell Phillips said, "What gunpowder did for war, the printing press has done for the mind.” so if gunpowder is anywhere near as important as the printing press, then it is definitely worth reading this fascinating volume and learning a bit more about it.


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