In This Review

Torpedo: Inventing the Military-Industrial Complex in the United States and Great Britain
Torpedo: Inventing the Military-Industrial Complex in the United States and Great Britain
By Katherine C. Epstein
Harvard University Press, 2014, 328 pp

One of the welcome recent developments in military history has been a focus on the nexus of bureaucrats, engineers, industrialists, and staff officers who were responsible for developing armaments and tactics for their use. This requires examining topics far removed from the drama and heroism of battle, including the complex interactions between weapon design and tactics and the constraints imposed by limited budgets. Epstein has done a remarkable job of mastering a range of highly technical issues connected to the development of torpedoes in the United Kingdom and the United States prior to World War I. As torpedoes improved, they affected the ability of warships to fire their big guns or to get close enough to shores to mount blockades. To adapt to the opportunities and complications posed by the new technology, militaries forged new relationships with the private sector, sharing the burden of development research and experimental trials. Epstein disarmingly admits that her subject matter does not make for the easiest read. Nonetheless, her book will set the standard for further research on the military-industrial complex.