Synopses & Reviews
Since World War II, the American West has become the nations military arsenal, proving ground, and disposal site. Through a wide-ranging discussion of recent literature produced in and about the West, Dirty Wars explores how the regions iconic landscapes, invested with myths of national virtue, have obscured the Wests crucial role in a post-World War II age of “permanent war.” In readings of western—particularly southwestern—literature, John Beck provides a historically informed account of how the military-industrial economy, established to protect the United States after Pearl Harbor, has instead produced western waste lands and “waste populations” as the enemies and collateral casualties of a permanent state of emergency. Beck offers new readings of writers such as Cormac McCarthy, Leslie Marmon Silko, Don DeLillo, Rebecca Solnit, Julie Otsuka, and Terry Tempest Williams. He also draws on a variety of sources in history, political theory, philosophy, environmental studies, and other fields. Throughout Dirty Wars, he identifies resonances between different experiences and representations of the West that allow us to think about internment policies, the manufacture of atomic weapons, the culture of Cold War security, border policing, and toxic pollution as part of a broader program of a sustained and invasive management of western space.
Established in south-central New Mexico at the end of World War II, White Sands Missile Range is the largest overland military reserve in the western hemisphere. It was the site of the first nuclear explosion, the birthplace of the American space program, and the primary site for testing U.S. missile capabilities.
In this environmental history of White Sands Missile Range, Ryan H. Edgington traces the uneasy relationships between the military, the federal government, local ranchers, environmentalists, state game and fish personnel, biologists and ecologists, state and federal political figures, hunters, and tourists after World War IIand#8212;as they all struggled to define and productively use the militarized western landscape. Environmentalists, ranchers, tourists, and other groups joined together to transform the meaning and uses of this region, challenging the authority of the national security state to dictate the environmental and cultural value of a rural American landscape. As a result, White Sands became a locus of competing geographies informed not only by the far-reaching intellectual, economic, and environmental changes wrought by the cold war but also by regional history, culture, and traditions.
Oil has made fortunes, caused wars, and shaped nations. Accordingly, no one questions the idea that the quest for oil is a quest for power. The question we should ask, Finding Oil
suggests, is what kind of power prospectors have wanted. This book revises oiland#8217;s early history by exploring the incredibly varied stories of the men who pitted themselves against nature to unleash the power of oil.
Brian Frehner shows how, despite the towering presence of a figure like John D. Rockefeller as a quintessential and#8220;oil man,and#8221; prospectors were a diverse lot who saw themselves, their interests, and their relationships with nature in profoundly different ways. He traces their various pursuits of power from 1859 to 1920 as a struggle for cultural, intellectual, and professional authority, over both nature and their peers. Here we see how some saw power as the work they did exploring and drilling into landscapes, while others saw it in the intellectual work of explaining how and where oil accumulated. Charting the intersection of human and natural history, their story traces the ever-evolving relationship between science and industry and reveals the unsuspected role geology played in shaping our understanding of the history of oil.
About the Author
Brian Frehner is an assistant professor of history at Oklahoma State University. He received a Bill and Rita Clements Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship for the Study of Southwestern America in 2004and#8211;5 and is the coeditor of Indians and Energy: Exploitation and Opportunity in the American Southwest.