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Annie Jacobsen

The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency

Interview with Annie Jacobsen

June 24, 2016

Sign Up. Full interview.

About Annie Jacobsen

Annie Jacobsen is an investigative journalist and bestselling author who writes about war, weapons, U.S. national security and government secrecy. Her newest book, “THE PENTAGON’S BRAIN: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America’s Top Secret Military Research Agency,” was chosen as one of the best nonfiction books of 2015 by The Washington PostThe Boston Globe and the Amazon editors. 2015.

Her 2011 non-fiction bestseller, ”AREA 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base,” has been published in five languages and is being made into an AMC scripted television series with Gale Anne Hurd (Walking Dead, Terminator). Her 2014 non-fiction bestseller, ”OPERATION PAPERCLIP: The Secret Intelligence Program That Brought Nazi Scientists to America,” has been published in five languages and is being adapted for television by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment and Brett Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment. The Boston Globe and Apple iTunes chose “OPERATION PAPERCLIP” as one of the best books of 2014. 

Annie Jacobsen graduated from St. Paul’s School and Princeton University where she wrote with Joyce Carol Oates and Paul Auster, studied Greek, and served as Captain of the Princeton Women’s Ice Hockey Team. She was a contributing editor for the Los Angeles Times Magazine from 2009 until 2012. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband Kevin and their two sons.

Interview Summary

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, DARPA, was created by the U.S. Congress in 1958 to advance research in military technologies. A top secret organization, the agency has played a key role in the development of some of the biotechnological weapons, missile programs, coded communication, and surveillance technology.

Investigative journalist and book author Annie Jacobsen unveils how an agency operating in anonymity has delivered the modern computer, cell phone communication, and the Internet, in between breakthroughs such as AR-15 semiautomatic rifles. Based on 70 in-person interviews with people associated with DARPA, Jacobsen’s book offers an exciting and chilling view of the agency’s goals and achievements. 

Key Topics

  • Why did Congress create DARPA?
  • What was DARPA’s role during the Cold War and how successful was it?
  • What weapons did DARPA develop during the Vietnam War?
  • How has war on terror changed the direction of research and development at the agency?
  • Why did Congress create DARPA?
  • What was DARPA’s role during the Cold War and how successful was it?
  • What weapons did DARPA develop during the Vietnam War?
  • How has war on terror changed the direction of research and development at the agency?

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