Synopses & Reviews
"Making War at Fort Hood
is a powerful, beautifully written book that brings to life the permanent vulnerability and bafflement of suffering soldiers and their families. As MacLeish tracks what it means to have a life amid war's threat to it, he listens hard to the stories, detailing the comic and tragic genres people invent to make sense of things as they veer between snapping and being stunned. The emotional life of the soldier is here memorably, richly chronicled."--Lauren Berlant, University of Chicago
"For the residents of Fort Hood, Texas, 'deployment' is in the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, including infidelity, divorce, abuse, and drugs. It's also in the ordinary life of waiting, recovering, dreading. It's in the mile-long row of strip malls, fast-food chains, and auto-parts stores on the main street of Killeen. It's in death by speeding on the widows' highway the day after returning from war. Kenneth MacLeish's Making War at Fort Hood is a profound investigation not only of war in the present moment but of the precariousness of life."--Kathleen C. Stewart, University of Texas, Austin
"This is one of the most valuable books I have read in a long time. Making War at Fort Hood delivers a close, convincing, and moving portrait of soldiers' lives. It demonstrates impressive intellectual depth and at the same time is ethnographically rich. The whole country needs to learn from this book."--Alan Klima, University of California, Davis
"An ethnographic study of the everyday lives of soldiers and their families, Making War at Fort Hood tackles profound questions of trauma and bodily experience, debt, love, accountability, separation and return, in a community constituted by the routine presence of war. I love this book. It is beautifully written, poignant and compelling, illuminating and sensitive. This is an extraordinarily timely and important work."--Mary Steedly, Harvard University
"Twenty-first-century servicemen and women are leading a new kind of soldier's life overwhelmingly married, they rotate routinely between the battlefield and a home in the suburbs. Multiple tours are the norm. Compartmentalizing verges from a coping mechanism to a survival tactic. But what kind of impact does this normalization of abnormality have on soldiers, their families, and military base communities? Vanderbilt's MacLeish offers the beginnings of an explanation in his case study of Fort Hood, Tex., where 'hat is Ã¢Â€Â˜normal' is not necessarily tolerable,' and couples find it 'difficult to say who it worse,' soldier or spouse. The author describes the base as a complex network of 'thresholds and distinctions,' whose structure holds true on the battlefield, where 'the Army owns the ... but the soldier is forced to own its pains.' MacLeish writes eloquently of love as a panacea for soldiers and their families, noting that it is an effective 'gesture of sovereignty' in a system of 'disciplinary constraint.' But MacLeish advocates for a grander 'collective social responsibility for violence' done in society's name. Though his conclusions have been reached before, this portrait of Army life on American turf is a welcome change of pace from the recent surge of battle-focused narratives. 6 halftones." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Making War at Fort Hood offers an illuminating look at war through the daily lives of the people whose job it is to produce it. Kenneth MacLeish conducted a year of intensive fieldwork among soldiers and their families at and around the US Army's Fort Hood in central Texas. He shows how war's reach extends far beyond the battlefield into military communities where violence is as routine, boring, and normal as it is shocking and traumatic.
Fort Hood is one of the largest military installations in the world, and many of the 55,000 personnel based there have served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. MacLeish provides intimate portraits of Fort Hood's soldiers and those closest to them, drawing on numerous in-depth interviews and diverse ethnographic material. He explores the exceptional position that soldiers occupy in relation to violence--not only trained to fight and kill, but placed deliberately in harm's way and offered up to die. The death and destruction of war happen to soldiers on purpose. MacLeish interweaves gripping narrative with critical theory and anthropological analysis to vividly describe this unique condition of vulnerability. Along the way, he sheds new light on the dynamics of military family life, stereotypes of veterans, what it means for civilians to say "thank you" to soldiers, and other questions about the sometimes ordinary, sometimes agonizing labor of making war.
Making War at Fort Hood is the first ethnography to examine the everyday lives of the soldiers, families, and communities who personally bear the burden of America's most recent wars.
About the Author
Kenneth T. MacLeish is assistant professor of medicine, health, and society at Vanderbilt University.
Table of Contents
ixPrologue: "Don't Fuckin' Leave Any of This Shit Out"
1A Site of Exception 27
2Heat, Weight, Metal, Gore, Exposure 50
3Being Stuck and Other Problems in the Reproduction of Life 93
4Vicissitudes of Love 134
5War Economy 179
Postscript: So-called Resiliency 223Acknowledgments
231Appendix: Army Rank Structure