Gunpowder by Jack Kelly
Alchemy, Bombards, And Pyrotechnics: The History Of The Explosive That Changed The World

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Synopsis

When Chinese alchemists fashioned the first manmade explosion sometime during the tenth century, no one could have foreseen its full revolutionary potential. Invented to frighten evil spirits rather than fuel guns or bombs-neither of which had been thought of yet-their simple mixture of saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal went on to make the modern world possible. As word of its explosive properties spread from Asia to Europe, from pyrotechnics to battleships, it paved the way for Western exploration, hastened the end of feudalism and the rise of the nation state, and greased the wheels of the Industrial Revolution.With dramatic immediacy, novelist and journalist Jack Kelly conveys both the distant time in which the "devil's distillate" rose to conquer the world, and brings to rousing life the eclectic cast of characters who played a role in its epic story, including Michelangelo, Edward III, Vasco da Gama, Cortez, Guy Fawkes, Alfred Nobel, and E.I. DuPont. A must-read for history fans and military buffs alike, Gunpowder brings together a rich terrain of cultures and technological innovations with authoritative research and swashbuckling style.
 

About Jack Kelly

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Jack Kelly is both an accomplished novelist and an experienced author of popular history. He writes regularly for American Heritage, and has also written features about the DuPont family's involvement in the gunpowder industry and the history of fireworks in America. He lives in Milan, New York.
 
Published April 1, 2004 by Basic Books. 261 pages
Genres: History, War, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction

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Old pro Kelly (Mad Dog, 1992, etc.) pens a popular history of the powder that has toppled kingdoms and uprooted societies for centuries.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Gunpowder: Alchemy, Bombards,...

Publishers Weekly

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A novelist and popular history writer, Kelly traces the history of gunpowder from 10th-century China to the late 19th century, when it was supplanted by Alfred Nobel's nitroglycerin. Kelly takes advan

Apr 01 2004 | Read Full Review of Gunpowder: Alchemy, Bombards,...

Entertainment Weekly

In Gunpowder, Jack Kelly follows the Chinese ''fire drug'' from the invention of the gun, through major battles decided by one side's superior powder, and up to the Industrial Revolution.

May 21 2004 | Read Full Review of Gunpowder: Alchemy, Bombards,...

Publishers Weekly

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For example, he argues plausibly that, by the 16th century, the cost of gunpowder needed by an effective fighting force""favored strong centralized states"" with the authority and ability to tax and in turn created""the foundations of modern nations."" This miscellany jumps between the technical ...

Apr 01 2004 | Read Full Review of Gunpowder: Alchemy, Bombards,...

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