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The Pentagon's Brain

An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency
Written by: Annie Jacobsen
Narrated by: Annie Jacobsen
Length: 18 hrs and 22 mins
Categories: History, Americas
4.5 out of 5 stars (2 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The definitive history of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, from the author of the New York Times best seller Area 51.

No one has ever written the history of the Defense Department's most secret, most powerful, and most controversial military science R&D agency. In the first-ever history of the organization, New York Times best-selling author Annie Jacobsen draws on inside sources, exclusive interviews, private documents, and declassified memos to paint a picture of DARPA, or "the Pentagon's brain", from its Cold War inception in 1958 to the present.

This is the book on DARPA - a compelling narrative about this clandestine intersection of science and the American military and the often frightening results.

©2015 Annie Jacobsen (P)2015 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A fascinating and unsettling portrait of the secretive US government agency.... Jacobsen walks a fine line in telling the story of the agency and its innovations without coming across as a cheerleader or a critic." ( Publishers Weekly starred review)
"Filled with the intrigue and high stakes of a spy novel, Jacobsen's history of DARPA is as much a fascinating testament to human ingenuity as it is a paean to endless industrial warfare." ( Kirkus Reviews)

More from the same

"Annie Jacobsen...is a great storyteller, making the tantalizing tale of The Pentagon's Brain - from the depths of the Cold War to present day - come alive on every page." (Gerald Posner, author of God's Bankers)

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  • HellRazor
  • 19-12-18

A Potentially Fascinating Look At Dark Tech.

A comprehensive reportage on part of the machinery that has evolved to produce the products of what, for want of a better description, has been called the American Industrial-Military Complex.

Some of the subject matter presented here simply amazes the average reader, who would find himself hard put to believe manifest, even in the most far-fetched science fiction novel. This book is certainly jammed backed with interesting detail.

The author competently investigates non-covert aspects of DARPA, the prime mover of defense related research, how and to what extent it operates and some of its more familiar, non-covert production (Internet, robots, drones, networks, cyborgs, etc.). She also almost, but not quite, speculates on what still might remain hidden under overs stamped "CLASSIFIED".

Something in the work is lacking and it is too bad that it is not there. Perhaps it is the author's career as a reporter ("just the facts, ma'am) that enforces a reluctance to colour her reports with the finishing touches of imagination.The reader can only speculate how much more edifying and entertaining this book could have been with a brighter, more science oriented author.

But perhaps, I am being unfair with this criticism, as I have read Jacobsen's earlier work "Operation Paperclip" which also, like this one, I found worth a read.

In this Audible version, the author reads her work clearly, competently and in complete monotone stolidness, from beginning to end. She never once falters from this style of delivery, making a good argument against some authors being allowed to perform their own work.

I think that this intriguing subject is still waiting for a more satisfying and eloquent work on this fascinating area of dark technology.

Do I recommend the book? Yes, for those interested in the subject.

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  • Neil Ferguson-Lee
  • 09-02-18

Detailed but Turgid

I think this could have been shorter but - boy - is it comprehensive?! I'm afraid that the narrator's delivery was rather soporific.

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  • Boo Boo
  • 18-05-19

Interesting, Reading Could Be Better

This is an interesting listen and reveals many details of this agency and its activities that are fascinating. A lot of research must have been carried out to produce it and that is to be applauded. The writing is also very professional.

The only detriment for me is Ms. Jacobsen's reading of her book. She has an odd, almost declamatory breathless style which I found detracted from the content. Further, some of her mangled pronunciations are very weird, e.g:

"Eggeena" for Agena
"Maykong" for Mekong
"NO rad" for "NORAD
"Psykorsky" for Sikorsky
"Beemeurs" for "BEMEWS"
"Onrico" for Enrico

I wondered if this was because of her provenance, or simply affected? I'm not sure, but these terms and their pronunciation are well-known so it does seem odd.

Overall, a good book, but would be better read by a professional narrator (like her other audiobooks in fact).

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-07-19

Scary Stuff.

WOW!!!

Annie Jacobsen was wonderful narrating this terrifying look inside the U.S. war machine, I was kept engaged and always wanting the next chapter to start while not wanting the last to finish.

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  • Vincent
  • 24-12-15

Brilliant insight into DARPA

Frightening revelations about secretive developments. The scary part is that as humans we may eventually outsmart ourselves into extinction.

1 person found this helpful