A History of Greek Fire and Gunpowder

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9780801859540: A History of Greek Fire and Gunpowder
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For nearly 600 years, from the battles of the early fourteenth century to the dropping of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima, firearms derived from gunpowder and other chemicals defined the frightful extent of war. The apparatus and materials used in World War I would have been familiar to our remote ancestors. In this classic work, first published in 1960, James Riddick Partington provides a worldwide survey of the evolution of incendiary devices, Greek fire, and gunpowder.

Greek fire, a composition Partington believes was made of a distilled petroleum fraction and other ingredients (but not saltpetre), was most famously used in the sieges of Constantinople and the Crusades. Partington moves from its antecedents―other incendiaries used in ancient warfare―to European gunpowder recipe books (The Latin Book of Fire, Bellifortis, and Feuerwerkbuch) and the history of infernal machines, mines, canon, small arms, and artillery. His book includes chapters on gunpowder and weapons in Muslim lands, India, and China―including fire books, the use of gunpowder as a propellant, the artillery of the Mughal Emperors, and the use of saltpetre in explosives. He traces the development of gunpowder to eleventh-century China and cites the first known mention and picture of a firearm in 1326.

"The history of gunpowder and firearms has attracted many authors with varying interests. The general historian must take account of major inventions effecting revolutions in the life of nations. The historian of science is concerned mostly with the invention of gunpowder. The historian of technology examines the development in the manufacture of explosives and weapons, and the way in which gunpowder has found applications in the peaceful arts. The military historian deals mainly with the use of gunpowder as an explosive and a propellant... and the development of firearms and their use in warfare. No recent book in English (or for that matter in any language) has attempted a concise survey of the subject."―from the Preface

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Warriors have used incendiary weapons from the earliest times. In this comprehensive study, English chemist and historian J.R. Partington traces their origins to Assyrian bas-reliefs from the 9th century, B.C., and even finds hints of them in the Old Testament (see Proverbs 26:18, for instance). Firearms technology took a great leap forward with the advent of so-called Greek fire, used by the Byzantine fleet to defend Constantinople against Arab attackers in the 7th century, and then later versus the Crusaders. One of history's first secret weapons, Greek fire is poorly understood today. Contemporary accounts describe nozzles spouting a fiery liquid that would burn even on the surface of the sea. Experts have tried to determine the exact nature of the substance--the recipe has been lost--but without reaching any definitive conclusions. Partington offers his own theories about one of the great mysteries of premodern warfare. He also describes the advent of gunpowder, exploring the legend of supposed inventor Black Berthold (a mythic figure, says Parrington) and examining the development of firearms in Europe, the Middle East, and China. First published in 1960, A History of Greek Fire and Gunpowder is a classic work on the development of military technology. A number of illustrations embellish the text, written in workmanlike prose that is at once scholarly and accessible to serious readers. --John J. Miller

About the Author:

James Riddick Partington was a distinguished historian of science and a professor of chemistry at the University of London. Bert S. Hall is an associate professor at the University of Toronto's Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology and the author of Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe: Gunpowder, Technology, and Tactics, also available from Johns Hopkins.

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Book Description JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 1998. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. For nearly 600 years, from the battles of the early fourteenth century to the dropping of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima, firearms derived from gunpowder and other chemicals defined the frightful extent of war. The apparatus and materials used in World War I would have been familiar to our remote ancestors. In this classic work, first published in 1960, James Riddick Partington provides a worldwide survey of the evolution of incendiary devices, Greek fire, and gunpowder.Greek fire, a composition Partington believes was made of a distilled petroleum fraction and other ingredients (but not saltpetre), was most famously used in the sieges of Constantinople and the Crusades. Partington moves from its antecedents-other incendiaries used in ancient warfare-to European gunpowder recipe books (The Latin Book of Fire, Bellifortis, and Feuerwerkbuch) and the history of infernal machines, mines, canon, small arms, and artillery. His book includes chapters on gunpowder and weapons in Muslim lands, India, and China-including fire books, the use of gunpowder as a propellant, the artillery of the Mughal Emperors, and the use of saltpetre in explosives. He traces the development of gunpowder to eleventh-century China and cites the first known mention and picture of a firearm in 1326. The history of gunpowder and firearms has attracted many authors with varying interests. The general historian must take account of major inventions effecting revolutions in the life of nations. The historian of science is concerned mostly with the invention of gunpowder. The historian of technology examines the development in the manufacture of explosives and weapons, and the way in which gunpowder has found applications in the peaceful arts. The military historian deals mainly with the use of gunpowder as an explosive and a propellant. and the development of firearms and their use in warfare. No recent book in English (or for that matter in any language) has attempted a concise survey of the subject. -from the Preface. Seller Inventory # AAV9780801859540

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Book Description JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 1998. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.For nearly 600 years, from the battles of the early fourteenth century to the dropping of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima, firearms derived from gunpowder and other chemicals defined the frightful extent of war. The apparatus and materials used in World War I would have been familiar to our remote ancestors. In this classic work, first published in 1960, James Riddick Partington provides a worldwide survey of the evolution of incendiary devices, Greek fire, and gunpowder.Greek fire, a composition Partington believes was made of a distilled petroleum fraction and other ingredients (but not saltpetre), was most famously used in the sieges of Constantinople and the Crusades. Partington moves from its antecedents-other incendiaries used in ancient warfare-to European gunpowder recipe books (The Latin Book of Fire, Bellifortis, and Feuerwerkbuch) and the history of infernal machines, mines, canon, small arms, and artillery. His book includes chapters on gunpowder and weapons in Muslim lands, India, and China-including fire books, the use of gunpowder as a propellant, the artillery of the Mughal Emperors, and the use of saltpetre in explosives. He traces the development of gunpowder to eleventh-century China and cites the first known mention and picture of a firearm in 1326. The history of gunpowder and firearms has attracted many authors with varying interests. The general historian must take account of major inventions effecting revolutions in the life of nations. The historian of science is concerned mostly with the invention of gunpowder. The historian of technology examines the development in the manufacture of explosives and weapons, and the way in which gunpowder has found applications in the peaceful arts. The military historian deals mainly with the use of gunpowder as an explosive and a propellant. and the development of firearms and their use in warfare. No recent book in English (or for that matter in any language) has attempted a concise survey of the subject. -from the Preface. Seller Inventory # AAV9780801859540

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