Great Scientists Wage the Great War

Author(s): William Van der Kloot 

ISBN: 9781781554029
£17.50 £25.00
First World War histories largely ignore the scientists and their important role in the war. This book looks at the works of six scientists whose stories and reports provide an interesting insight into the role and use of science during the First World War.

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First World War histories largely ignore the scientists and their important role in the war. Five Nobel laureates worked in Fritz Haber’s poison gas project, by the end of the war his group included 150 academics and more than 1,300 NCOs, soldiers, and women. To call attention to the role of science in the war the book examines six case histories – five of them of Britons whose letters and reports are available in the archives. The German is Otto Hahn (poison gas) The British are Ernest Starling (treatment of wound shock and food allocation), Chaim Weizmann (explosives), WH Bragg (sonar). WL Bragg (sound localization of artillery), AV Hill (anti-aircraft gunnery). Their stories bring in their Allied co-workers and their enemy competitors.

The British government never mobilized the scientists – they found their way in through side doors. Two of the British protagonists laid the groundwork for their highly effective scientific mobilization in the Second World War, which is revealed in the final chapter.

BOOK ISBN 9781781554029
FORMAT 234 x 156 mm
BINDING Hardback
PAGES 264 pages
ILLUSTRATIONS 34 black-and-white photographs



William Van der Kloot, Distinguished Professor emeritus at Stony Brook University, has been a scientist at Harvard, Cambridge, Cornell, NYU, and Stony Brook, writing 160 papers and a scientific textbook: Behavior (Holt, Reinhardt and Winston, 1968). In recent years he has written two books on the First World War: The Lessons of War: The Experiences of Seven Future Leaders in the First World War and World War 1 Fact Book. He has also published five papers about scientific work during the First World War in the Notes and Records of the Royal Society.