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Making War at Fort Hood:
Life and Uncertainty in a Military Community
Kenneth T. MacLeish

Third Place for the 2013 Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing, Society for Humanistic Anthropology and American Anthropological Association
Honorable Mention for the 2015 Delmos Jones and Jagna Scharff Memorial Book Award, Society for the Anthropology of North America

Paperback | 2015 | $22.95 | £18.95 | ISBN: 9780691165707
280 pp. | 6 x 9 | 6 halftones.
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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.

Kenneth T. MacLeish is assistant professor of medicine, health, and society at Vanderbilt University.


"MacLeish writes eloquently. . . . [T]his portrait of Army life on American turf is a welcome change of pace from the recent surge of battle-focused narratives."--Publishers Weekly

"In bringing troops from the background to the front where they belong, this book should be required reading for Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and anyone else responsible for sending soldiers to that folly in the desert. They should read it before they go to bed and when they wake up. MacLeish has shown them, and us, what we do to others when we send them to fight our wars."--James T Crouse, Times Higher Education

"Making War at Fort Hood is an ambitious, provocative book. It will be of significant value to historians of contemporary military conflicts, the organizational culture of the U.S. Army, and the lived experience of war. . . . It is an important work that deserves attention."--Jacqueline Whitt, H-Net Reviews

"Making War at Fort Hood is essential reading for those with an interest in modern Army life and for those in leadership positions."--Lieutenant Colonel G. Alan Knight, Journal of Army History

"In Making War at Fort Hood, Kenneth MacLeish . . . draws on interviews with [returning soldiers] and members of their families in an ethnographic exploration of the impact of deployment on their everyday lives. . . . MacLeish documents, often poignantly, the difficulties soldiers have in making sense of their experiences and in moving on."--Dr. Glenn Altschuler, Florida Courier

"The real thrust of [Making War at Fort Hood] is to show the American public--insulated from having to care greatly by an all-volunteer army and battles being fought on credit--that it nonetheless bears responsibility for the violence being done abroad and at home in its name."--ForeWord

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Table of Contents:

Abbreviations ix
Prologue: "Don't Fuckin' Leave Any of This Shit Out" 1
Introduction 6
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 223
Acknowledgments 231
Appendix: Army Rank Structure 235
Notes 239
References 249
Index 261

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