The Evolution of Arms Control: From Antiquity to the Nuclear Age

In This Review

The Evolution of Arms Control: From Antiquity to the Nuclear Age
By Richard Dean Burns
Praeger, 2009
251 pp. $49.95
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Burns has an encyclopedic knowledge of arms control and a broad approach that takes in all efforts to control the manufacture, trade, deployment, and use of weapons. This book is therefore valuable as a short guide to all activities that could possibly come under this heading-everything from disarming opponents with brute force to the painstakingly negotiated treaties between Russia and the United States. His range of examples is extraordinary: they include ritualistic tribal battles in New Guinea, which would stop at night because of ghosts or rain (lest hair or ornaments got wet). Since the book is both short and comprehensive, however, it is largely descriptive, which makes for a disappointing lack of comparative analysis of the merits and pitfalls of each method of arms control.