56 books like Tools and Weapons

By Brad Smith, Carol Ann Browne,

Here are 56 books that Tools and Weapons fans have personally recommended if you like Tools and Weapons. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth

Tom Wheeler Author Of From Gutenberg to Google: The History of Our Future

From my list on today’s roadmap to tomorrow.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fortunate to have spent the last 40 years of my professional life dealing with new networks and new technology. From the early days of cable television and mobile communications to the development of digital video and the transmission of data over cable lines and satellite. It was a career topped off with the privilege of being the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with regulatory responsibly for approximately 1/6th of the American economy (on which the other 5/6s depended). 

Tom's book list on today’s roadmap to tomorrow

Tom Wheeler Why did Tom love this book?

At a time when new technology has delivered us to a world of misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation, we have lost our shared understanding of just what facts and truth are.

Jonathan Rauch helps us recall the importance of facts and truth to the liberal democratic process. He challenges us to reinstate knowledge and truth. 

By Jonathan Rauch,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Constitution of Knowledge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Arming Americans to defend the truth from today's war on facts.

Disinformation. Trolling. Conspiracies. Social media pile-ons. Campus intolerance. On the surface, these recent additions to our daily vocabulary appear to have little in common. But together, they are driving an epistemic crisis: a multi-front challenge to America's ability to distinguish fact from fiction and elevate truth above falsehood.

In 2016 Russian trolls and bots nearly drowned the truth in a flood of fake news and conspiracy theories, and Donald Trump and his troll armies continued to do the same. Social media companies struggled to keep up with a flood…


Book cover of The Future of War: A History

Audrey Kurth Cronin Author Of Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation Is Arming Tomorrow's Terrorists

From my list on the future of technology, innovation, and war.

Why am I passionate about this?

Living in the American Embassy in Moscow as a teenager during the Cold War, I grew up keenly aware of the perils of global instability and nuclear war. While friends back home worried about how to buy a car or score a date, I wandered the streets of Moscow, often tailed by the KGB, hoping US nuclear missiles didn’t launch our way. So, I’ve always been interested in big questions of how to avoid wars, and how to end them. Since then, I’ve traveled the world, worked in both government and academe, advised senior national and international policymakers, and become an award-winning author.  

Audrey's book list on the future of technology, innovation, and war

Audrey Kurth Cronin Why did Audrey love this book?

Sir Lawrence Freedman sets the standard for erudite but accessible writing about strategy, and this is another wonderful book. It analyzes how smart people in many historical settings have predicted the future of war, and why their predictions then succeeded or failed. The broader political, economic, or social context was often more important than popular concepts of the day—things like short war, decisive battle, the “RMA,” or revolutionary technology. Freedman also reminds us that influential analyses of war’s future change how that future unfolds. Reading this book helped me see beyond popular predictions, to be more discerning about change and continuity.

By Lawrence Freedman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Future of War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For as long as there have been wars there have been fears about the next war. Where are the new dangers? What is the best defence? How might peace come about? This is the history of how over the last 150 years we have tried - rightly and wrongly - to predict war's future.

'Britain's leading academic strategist ... read this book' Economist

'Insightful and opinionated ... expertly covers centuries of evolving mayhem' Gary J. Bass, The New York Times

'A bonfire of predictions ... Freedman's purpose in this wise book is to discern patterns in the way we have…


Book cover of The Gunpowder Age: China, Military Innovation, and the Rise of the West in World History

Audrey Kurth Cronin Author Of Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation Is Arming Tomorrow's Terrorists

From my list on the future of technology, innovation, and war.

Why am I passionate about this?

Living in the American Embassy in Moscow as a teenager during the Cold War, I grew up keenly aware of the perils of global instability and nuclear war. While friends back home worried about how to buy a car or score a date, I wandered the streets of Moscow, often tailed by the KGB, hoping US nuclear missiles didn’t launch our way. So, I’ve always been interested in big questions of how to avoid wars, and how to end them. Since then, I’ve traveled the world, worked in both government and academe, advised senior national and international policymakers, and become an award-winning author.  

Audrey's book list on the future of technology, innovation, and war

Audrey Kurth Cronin Why did Audrey love this book?

A key question today about the future of war is who will dominate AI technologies–China or the US & its allies? History offers clues. This book tackles the hot debate about what historians call the great divergence—that is, why, since it invented gunpowder (and other key military technologies), China then fell dramatically behind Europe in the modern era. Andrade goes beyond classic arguments about a gradual 500-year Rise of the West, beyond revisionist arguments about the West shooting ahead only very recently, to craft a third view. Using archival evidence, he lays out a series of key smaller divergences accompanying industrialization. Why does this interest me? If Western technological advances happened only recently and rapidly, they can be quickly reversed. 

By Tonio Andrade,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gunpowder Age as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Chinese invented gunpowder and began exploring its military uses as early as the 900s, four centuries before the technology passed to the West. But by the early 1800s, China had fallen so far behind the West in gunpowder warfare that it was easily defeated by Britain in the Opium War of 1839-42. What happened? In The Gunpowder Age, Tonio Andrade offers a compelling new answer, opening a fresh perspective on a key question of world history: why did the countries of western Europe surge to global importance starting in the 1500s while China slipped behind? Historians have long argued…


Book cover of Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War

Audrey Kurth Cronin Author Of Power to the People: How Open Technological Innovation Is Arming Tomorrow's Terrorists

From my list on the future of technology, innovation, and war.

Why am I passionate about this?

Living in the American Embassy in Moscow as a teenager during the Cold War, I grew up keenly aware of the perils of global instability and nuclear war. While friends back home worried about how to buy a car or score a date, I wandered the streets of Moscow, often tailed by the KGB, hoping US nuclear missiles didn’t launch our way. So, I’ve always been interested in big questions of how to avoid wars, and how to end them. Since then, I’ve traveled the world, worked in both government and academe, advised senior national and international policymakers, and become an award-winning author.  

Audrey's book list on the future of technology, innovation, and war

Audrey Kurth Cronin Why did Audrey love this book?

Paul Scharre explains the military use of autonomous weapons and AI-driven platforms in a book that’s accessible and comprehensive. He’s a former Army Ranger who helped write the US military’s guidelines for unmanned systems and military autonomy. I have other, more recent books about individual technologies; but Scharre’s is the only one that melds an insider’s understanding of lethal autonomous weapons (LAWs) with clear analysis of their pros and cons. He’s a skeptic of arms control but sees the need to reduce their downsides. My students like the book—even those deeply opposed to LAWs. Scharre’s explanations of autonomy and AI in military weapons are especially valuable for non-specialists. They are an antidote to all the loose AI terminology that just confuses everyone. 

By Paul Scharre,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Army of None as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The era of autonomous weapons has arrived. Today around the globe, at least thirty nations have weapons that can search for and destroy enemy targets all on their own. Paul Scharre, a leading expert in next-generation warfare, describes these and other high tech weapons systems-from Israel's Harpy drone to the American submarine-hunting robot ship Sea Hunter-and examines the legal and ethical issues surrounding their use. "A smart primer to what's to come in warfare" (Bruce Schneier), Army of None engages military history, global policy, and cutting-edge science to explore the implications of giving weapons the freedom to make life and…


Book cover of Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control

Steve Finlay Author Of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Business: A No-Nonsense Guide to Data Driven Technologies

From my list on machine learning for managers and business leaders.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have worked in the field of machine learning and predictive analytics for many years. Having started out as a technical specialist, I have become increasingly interested in the legal, ethical, and social aspects of these subjects. This is because it is these “soft issues” that often determine how successful these technologies are in practice and if they are viewed as a force for good or evil in wider society. This has led me to write several books focusing on the practical and cultural aspects of these subjects and how best to apply them for the benefit of business, individuals, and wider society.

Steve's book list on machine learning for managers and business leaders

Steve Finlay Why did Steve love this book?

As ever more powerful AI-based tools are created, Russell asks the question (and provides some answers) as to how we can ensure that we stay in the control of our creations. In particular, what safeguards are needed to protect us from something that will potentially be more intelligent than ourselves? Some might argue that this is all just science fiction and, even if it’s possible to build machines that are more intelligent than we are, it’s a problem for the distant future. However, there are many areas where AI is already making the key decisions about how we are treated. For example, whether or not to offer you a job or if you should get that loan you applied for. Consequently, I found this book to present a compelling case that controlling AI is something that we need to address as a matter of urgency, sooner rather than later.

By Stuart Russell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Human Compatible as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A leading artificial intelligence researcher lays out a new approach to AI that will enable us to coexist successfully with increasingly intelligent machines

In the popular imagination, superhuman artificial intelligence is an approaching tidal wave that threatens not just jobs and human relationships, but civilization itself. Conflict between humans and machines is seen as inevitable and its outcome all too predictable.

In this groundbreaking book, distinguished AI researcher Stuart Russell argues that this scenario can be avoided, but only if we rethink AI from the ground up. Russell begins by exploring the idea of intelligence in humans and in machines.…


Book cover of Future Shock

Jerry Fishenden Author Of Fracture. The collision between technology and democracy-and how we fix it

From my list on technology and democracy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved technology. I like the constant change, the sense of creativity and invention, of how it can act as an incredible force for good and human progress and betterment in the world. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t tinkering with gadgets—taking radios apart to mend them or learn how they worked; designing electronic circuits for music synthesis; programming computers. But I’ve also always been interested in politics and the complex intersection of technology and public policy. So much so that most of my working life has been spent at this intersection, which is why I love these books—and hope you will too.

Jerry's book list on technology and democracy

Jerry Fishenden Why did Jerry love this book?

I remember first reading Future Shock after buying a battered, orange-coloured paperback edition at a bargain price from one of the second-hand bookshops that once saturated London’s Charing Cross Road.

It hadn’t really occurred to me before how much the increasingly rapid technological changes around us might create a sense of shock—‘future shock’— for some people. It changed my thinking about the influence of technology on our world and the impact it has on people, society, economics, and politics.

Even after all these years, many of Alvin Toffler’s insights and ideas remain just as topical today.

By Alvin Toffler,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Future Shock as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The classic work that predicted the anxieties of a world upended by rapidly emerging technologies—and now provides a road map to solving many of our most pressing crises. 

“Explosive . . . brilliantly formulated.” —The Wall Street Journal 

Future Shock is the classic that changed our view of tomorrow. Its startling insights into accelerating change led a president to ask his advisers for a special report, inspired composers to write symphonies and rock music, gave a powerful new concept to social science, and added a phrase to our language. Published in over fifty countries, Future…


Book cover of The Exponential Age: How Accelerating Technology is Transforming Business, Politics and Society

Tom Wheeler Author Of From Gutenberg to Google: The History of Our Future

From my list on today’s roadmap to tomorrow.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fortunate to have spent the last 40 years of my professional life dealing with new networks and new technology. From the early days of cable television and mobile communications to the development of digital video and the transmission of data over cable lines and satellite. It was a career topped off with the privilege of being the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with regulatory responsibly for approximately 1/6th of the American economy (on which the other 5/6s depended). 

Tom's book list on today’s roadmap to tomorrow

Tom Wheeler Why did Tom love this book?

Tech analyst and investor Azeem Azhar concisely pulls together his take on how the arc of technology has moved from linear to exponential both in its development as well as its impact on society and business.

Azhar brings great insight into how exponential growth – creating an “exponential gap” – has put strains not only on businesses, but also on government and society writ large. 

By Azeem Azhar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Exponential Age as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

*2021 Financial Times Best Book of the Year*


A bold exploration and call-to-arms over the widening gap between AI, automation, and big data—and our ability to deal with its effects


We are living in the first exponential age.

High-tech innovations are created at dazzling speeds; technological forces we barely understand remake our homes and workplaces; centuries-old tenets of politics and economics are upturned by new technologies. It all points to a world that is getting faster at a dizzying pace.


Azeem Azhar, renowned technology analyst and host of the Exponential View podcast, offers a revelatory new model for understanding how…


Book cover of The Master Switch: the Rise and Fall of Information Empires

Tom Wheeler Author Of From Gutenberg to Google: The History of Our Future

From my list on today’s roadmap to tomorrow.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fortunate to have spent the last 40 years of my professional life dealing with new networks and new technology. From the early days of cable television and mobile communications to the development of digital video and the transmission of data over cable lines and satellite. It was a career topped off with the privilege of being the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with regulatory responsibly for approximately 1/6th of the American economy (on which the other 5/6s depended). 

Tom's book list on today’s roadmap to tomorrow

Tom Wheeler Why did Tom love this book?

Columbia Law Professor and recently departed White House advisor Tim Wu looks at the evolution of the information industry.

While written in 2011, Master Switch describes the technological and corporate developments that have brought us to today’s information age and all its corporate and civil challenges. I love the historical stories he uses and how they are really not that different from contemporary developments. 

By Tim Wu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Master Switch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Internet Age: on the face of it, an era of unprecedented freedom in both communication and culture. Yet in the past, each major new medium, from telephone to satellite television, has crested on a wave of similar idealistic optimism, before succumbing to the inevitable undertow of industrial consolidation. Every once free and open technology has, in time, become centralized and closed; as corporate power has taken control of the 'master switch.' Today a similar struggle looms over the Internet, and as it increasingly supersedes all other media the stakes have never been higher.

Part industrial expose, part examination of…


Book cover of Tea From An Empty Cup

Aaron Conners Author Of Tex Murphy and the Tesla Effect

From my list on combining science fiction and detective stories.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up reading the Hardy Boys, then Sherlock Holmes, then Hammett and Chandler. I’ve always been fascinated by mysteries and the process of solving them. This led me to create my own interactive murder mysteries, then a career designing and writing videogames. Two of the games, featuring a 1940’s-style P.I. living in the post-apocalyptic 2040s, won “Adventure Game of the Year” awards, and spawned a series of four (so far) novels. The stories, which combine light sci-fi with detective noir and a lot of humor, have been influenced by many different movies, tv shows, and books, including the five in this list. I hope you enjoy them!

Aaron's book list on combining science fiction and detective stories

Aaron Conners Why did Aaron love this book?

Cyberpunk Noir isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (sorry), and this story is dark and downbeat, with two female protagonists who aren’t especially sympathetic, so readers tend to love this book or hate it. For me, the kinetic writing style, crackling dialogue, and richly-detailed descriptions of cyberspace—as well as the fresh take on the “locked-room murder” (a virtual reality parlor in this case)—makes it a highly-recommended read.

By Pat Cadigan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tea From An Empty Cup as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

To find what they seek, Konstantin, a hardened cop investigating a series of grisly murders, and Yuki, a woman searching for her missing lover, must delve deep into the dark world of cyberspace, an artificial world where the lines between virtual and real have become blurred. Reprint. LJ.


Book cover of The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age

Sean McFate Author Of The New Rules of War: How America Can Win--Against Russia, China, and Other Threats

From my list on mercenaries from a former military contractor.

Why am I passionate about this?

Dr. Sean McFate is an expert on international relations and a former military contractor. He is a Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington DC think tank, and a professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, Syracuse University's Maxwell School, and the National Defense University. He began his career as a paratrooper and officer in the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division. 

Sean's book list on mercenaries from a former military contractor

Sean McFate Why did Sean love this book?

There are cyber mercenaries too. Called “hackback” companies, they are illegal, offshore hackers who hack the hackers. While they cannot retrieve hacked material, they can cause a world of hurt for anyone who tries to hack you, and that’s why they matter: deterrence. CEOs and others around the world sometimes turn to hackback firms to make them hard targets. Also, countries like the United Arab Emirates hire former NSA hackers. New York Times reporter details some of this industry in his book about cyberwar. Like many in cyberspace, his claims are often sensationalized, but his reportage cannot be beat.

By David E. Sanger,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Perfect Weapon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From Russia's tampering with the US election to the WannaCry hack that temporarily crippled the NHS, cyber has become the weapon of choice for democracies, dictators, and terrorists.

Cheap to acquire, easily deniable, and used for a variety of malicious purposes - from crippling infrastructure to sowing discord and doubt - cyberweapons are re-writing the rules of warfare. In less than a decade, they have displaced terrorism and nuclear missiles as the biggest immediate threat to international security and to democracy.

Here, New York Times correspondent David E. Sanger takes us from the White House Situation Room to the dens…


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