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The Smartphone as Weapon part 1: the new ecology of war in Ukraine

New Paper - April 9th 2022

This book examines the digital explosion that has ripped across the battlefield, weaponising our attention and making everyone a participant in wars without end.

‘Smart’ devices, apps, archives and algorithms remove the bystander from war, collapsing the distinctions between audience and actor, soldier and civilian, media and weapon. This has ruptured our capacity to make sense of war. Now we are all either victims or perpetrators.

In Radical War, Ford and Hoskins reveal how contemporary war is legitimised, planned, fought, experienced, remembered and forgotten in a continuous and connected way, through digitally saturated fields of perception.

Plotting the emerging relationship between data, attention and the power to control war, the authors chart the complex digital and human interdependencies that sustain political violence today. Through a unique, interdisciplinary lens, they map our disjointed experiences of conflict and illuminate this dystopian new ecology of war.

Book launch discussion

To celebrate the release of their new book, Radical War: Data, Attention and Control in the Twenty-First Century, Dr Matthew Ford and Professor Andrew Hoskins chat with the History Hack podcast. Listen now…


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‘The essential guide to the new war of all against all, where everything is weaponised, and where the lines between peace and conflict are forever blurred.’

Peter Pomerantsev, author of This Is Not Propaganda: Adventures in the War Against Reality

‘As the security elites struggle to understand how information fits with the traditional domains of warfare, Ford and Hoskins show how information has become the overarching domain, with the smartphone, not the rifle, as the granular instrument of combat. A startling rethink of the twenty-first-century battlefield that blows away the traditional boundaries between state, society and the military.’

Paul Mason, journalist (@paulmasonnews)

‘A fascinating assessment of the impact of our ubiquitous access to, and employment of, information and media. Positing a radical vision of war in which perception is reality, this book challenges our norms and, while you might not necessarily like it, you should probably read it!’

Brigadier Khashi Sharifi OBE, British Army

Radical War recasts the means, methods–and increasingly memes–by which war today is waged. Excavating a transformative war-media nexus, it provides an astute analysis of why the battlefields of conventional geopolitics are migrating, and mutating into social media events.’

Nisha Shah, Associate Professor, School of Political Studies, University of Ottawa (@nishavshah)

‘The Nazis went through a remarkably complicated process of communication to realise the industrial extermination of Europe’s Jews. In the post-modern age, this book shows, in stark detail, how the flattened structures of society, the end of analogue archives and instantaneous communications could simplify any decision-making process working towards genocide.’

Philip W. Blood, historian, and author of Birds of Prey (@HistorianBlood)

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"Now we are all either victims or perpetrators"

Dr Matthew Ford

University of Sussex, Department of International Relations



Matthew Ford is an academic currently focusing on war and the data-saturated battlefields of the 21st century.

His forthcoming book – Radical War – with Professor Andrew Hoskins from Glasgow University traces war’s data trajectories, from the epicentres of battle out to distant parts of the world, into history, memory and as it is memed into the platforms that mediate digital culture.

Matthew’s first book, ‘Weapon of Choice – Small Arms and the Culture of Military Innovation‘, is an analysis of military innovation and culture and was published by Hurst & Co, London and Oxford University Press, New York in 2017.

Matthew is an Honorary Historical Consultant to the Royal Armouries (UK), the founding Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal for Military History, a former West Point Fellow and a Visiting Scholar at the Defense Analysis Department at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA.

Andrew Hoskins

Interdisciplinary Research Professor in Global Security in the College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow, UK



Andrew Hoskins is founding Co Editor-in-Chief of the Palgrave Journal of Digital War, founding Editor-in-Chief of the Sage Journal of Memory Studies, founding Co-Editor of the Palgrave Memory Studies Book Series, and founding Co-Editor of the Routledge Media, War & Security Series. He is also a founding co-ordinator of the Glasgow Social and Digital Change Group.

His books include: Risk and Hyperconnectivity: Media and Memories of Neoliberalism (OUP 2016, with Tulloch); Digital Memory Studies: Media Pasts in Transition (Routledge 2018, Ed.); Trump’s Media War (Palgrave 2019, Co-Ed); Television & Terror (Palgrave 2007, with O’Loughlin); War & Media: The Emergence of Diffused War (Polity 2010, with O’Loughlin).

Radical War Media

Video and podcast interviews, discussions and presentations

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