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Blackett's War

by Stephen Budiansky

The exciting history of a small group of British and American scientists who, during World War II, developed the new field of operational research to turn back the tide of German submarines--revolutionizing the way wars are waged and won. In March 1941, after a year of unbroken and devastating U-boat onslaughts, the British War Cabinet decided to try a new strategy in the foundering naval campaign. To do so, they hired an intensely private, bohemian physicist who was also an ardent socialist. Patrick Blackett was a former navy officer and future winner of the Nobel Prize; he is little remembered today, but he and his fellow scientists did as much to win the war against Nazi Germany as almost anyone else. As director of the World War II antisubmarine effort, Blackett used little more than simple mathematics and probability theory--and a steadfast belief in the utility of science--to save the campaign against the U-boat. Employing these insights in unconventional ways, from the washing of mess hall dishes to the color of bomber wings, the Allies went on to win essential victories against Hitler's Germany. Here is the story of these civilian intellectuals who helped to change the nature of twentieth-century warfare. Throughout, Stephen Budiansky describes how scientists became intimately involved with what had once been the distinct province of military commanders--convincing disbelieving military brass to trust the solutions suggested by their analysis. Budiansky shows that these men above all retained the belief that operational research, and a scientific mentality, could change the world. It's a belief that has come to fruition with the spread of their tenets to the business and military worlds, and it started in the Battle of the Atlantic, in an attempt to outfight the Germans, but most of all to outwit them.

The Nature of Horses: Exploring Equine Evolution, Intelligence, and Behavior

by Stephen Budiansky

A scientific look at the origins, behavior, intelligence and language of the horse, based on cutting-edge research on horses' vision, biology and movement. Horses have a shared history with man going back millennia to their domestication around 4000 B. C. Yet only in very recent years have scientists begun to turn the tools of modern science on this remarkable animal that has been so wrapped up in human dreams and legends. Now modern scientific research is beginning to explain long-standing mysteries about the true nature of the horse. How well can horses really see? What causes breakdowns in racehorses? How intelligent are they compared to other animals, and are some breeds smarter than others? Does nature or nurture matter more in creating a great sport horse? What causes cribbing and other vices? In this beautifully illustrated, compelling narrative, Budiansky tells the story of the origins, behavior, intelligence and language of the horse. For the first time, horse lovers will have access to cutting-edge research on topics of interest including new information on horse vision, horse biology and movement. Introducing the latest archeological findings, Budiansky presents a fascinating discussion of how the horse evolved as well as a dramatic and provocative history of man's use and abuse of the horse from prehistoric times to today. In a revealing chapter on horse intelligence, he debunks the commonly held belief that horses are stupid and also presents compelling new scientific information on horse language which will greatly benefit the horse rider and trainer. Finally, drawing together the latest research on horse physiology, genetics and biomechanics, Budiansky asks the million dollar question -- what makes for a winning racehorse? Anyone who loves horses will find this an invaluable resource as well as a fascinating read.

Perilous Fight

by Stephen Budiansky

InPerilous Fight,Stephen Budiansky tells the rousing story of the underdog coterie of American seamen and their visionary secretary of the navy, who combined bravery and strategic innovation to hold off the legendary Royal Navy. Budiansky vividly demonstrates that far from an indecisive and unnecessary conflict--as historians have long dismissed the War of 1812--this "forgotten war" had profound consequences that would change the course of naval warfare, America's place in the world, and the rules of international conflict forever. Never again would the great powers challenge the young republic's sovereignty in the aftermath of the stunning performance of America's navy and privateersmen in sea battles that ranged across half the globe. Their brilliant hit-and-run tactics against a far mightier foe would pioneer concepts of "asymmetric warfare" that would characterize the insurgency warfare of later centuries. Above all, the War of 1812 would be the making of the United States Navy. Even as the war began, the nation was bitterly divided over whether it should have a navy at all: Jeffersonian Republicans denounced the idea as a dangerous expansion of government power, while Federalists insisted that America could never protect its burgeoning seagoing commerce or command respect without a strong naval force. After the war, Americans would never again doubt that their might, respect, and very survival depended upon a permanent and professional navy. Drawing extensively on diaries, letters, and personal accounts from both sides, Budiansky re-creates the riveting encounters at sea in bloody clashes of cannonfire and swordplay; the intimate hopes and fears of vainglorious captains and young seamen in search of adventure; and the behind-the-scenes political intrigue and maneuvering in Washington and London. Throughout,Perilous Fightproves itself a gripping and essential work of American naval history.

The Truth About Dogs: An Inquiry into the Ancestry, Social Conventions, Mental Habits, and Moral Fiber of Canis Familiaris

by Stephen Budiansky

"A great book for new dog owners or anyone looking for a better understanding of how Spot's mind works." -USA Today "Budiansky's answers will satisfy passionate dog lovers and serious scientists alike ... using a sense of humor that allows him to transform some difficult concepts into lay reader's language." -Library Journal "Budiansky, who may be the best writer around on animal behavior, is a terrific prose engine, motoring through a finely chosen set of facts and anecdotes to produce just the effects he wants. His style is emphatic, yet engaging. Budiansky's scholarship is impressive. In addition to discussing behavior and a kind of cross-species sociology that almost nobody else attempts, he ranges freely over physiology, anatomy, evolution and genetics, explaining all with admirable clarity as he goes." -American Scientist

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