I'm looking for a story I read about 20 years ago. It was about Earth and its people were able to create star ships capable of real space flight. Not long after this happened we were visited by a hostile alien race, our ships rose to meet them and the aliens turned on this field which rendered our ships dead in the water and they fell back to earth. The book was heavily illustrated with space ships, and scenes of futuristic cities. The artwork was reminiscent of John Berkey, I'm afraid I cannot add anymore than that. Can anyone help me at all?
Could it possibly be Spacecraft 2000-2100 AD, part of the Terran Trade War series written by Stewart Cowley?
Not much to go on there, but perhaps EE "Doc" Smith's Triplanetary, prequel to the Lensman series?