Gunpowder, Explosives and the State: A Technological History

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Brenda J. Buchanan
Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006 - History - 425 pages
Gunpowder studies are still in their infancy despite the long-standing civil and military importance of this explosive since its discovery in China in the mid-ninth century AD. In this second volume by contributors who meet regularly at symposia of the International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOHTEC), the research is again rooted in the investigation of the technology of explosives manufacture, but the fact that the chapters range in scope from the Old World to the New, from sources of raw materials in south-east Asia to the complications of manufacture in the West, shows that the story is more than the simple one of how an intriguing product was made. This volume is the first to develop the implications of the subject, not just in the sense of relating it to changing military technologies, but in that of seeing the securing of gunpowder supplies as fundamental to the power of the state and imperial pretensions.
 

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Contents

Realities and Perceptions in the Evolution of Black Powder Making
21
Gunpowder and its Applications in Ancient India
42
The Indian Response to Firearms 13001750
51
A Commodity of Empire
67
The Production of Saltpetre and Gunpowder in Europe
91
Its History and Technological
123
Saltpetre at the Intersection of Military and Agricultural
142
Manufacturing and Testing
158
Gunpowder Manufacture in Cairo from Bonaparte
206
Eleve des Poudrer E I du Ponts Multiple Transfers of French
230
The Smelting of Iron Cannons and Consumption
266
British Munitions for Larger Guns
303
Scientific Reasoning and the Empirical Approach at the Time
343
On the Path from Black Powder to ANFO
367
The Transformation of Royal DutchShell
385
Index
409

The Overseas Transfer of Technology from Europe
181

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About the author (2006)

Brenda J. Buchanan is a Research Fellow in the Department of Social and Policy Sciences, University of Bath, UK.

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