The Social History of the Machine Gun
As John Ellis narrates in this book: "Machine guns are now commonplace. The indispensable aid they offer to soldiers, policemen and terrorists is taken for granted. Yet this acceptance has not come easily. The reasons for this are numerous, but most of them are much more than a simple evaluation of the machine gun's technical merits. The following pages will show that the general aspirations and prejudices of particular social groups are just as important for the history of military technology as are straightforward problems of technical efficiency. Guns, like everything else, have their social history. In this book it will be seen that the anachronistic ideals of the European officer class, the messianic nature of nineteenth-century capitalism, the imperialist drive into Africa and elsewhere, and the racialist assumptions that underpinned it, were more important to the history of the machine gun than any bald assessment of its mechanical efficacy. The history of technology is part and parcel of social history in general. The same is equally true of military history, far too long regarded as a simple matter of tactics and technical differentials. Military history too can only be understood against the wider social background".
- 1986 The Johns Hopkins University Press
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