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
"To its great credit, MacLeish's project refuses to paint soldiers as either noble heroes or unwitting victims, two of the most dominant and therefore the most tired archetypes of our time. In a society that has exoticized and abstracted the military, MacLeish re-humanizes it. He is also remarkably precise in how he describes the institution of the Army: how its various bureaucracies, all geared at least tangentially toward killing people and destroying property, prescribe and encompass so many aspects of a soldier's life, from the most consequential to the seemingly benign, such as haircut styles and family day picnics. MacLeish's book is smart, necessary, and insightful."--Brian Van Reet, Daily Beast
"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
"The book illuminates the impact that two wars over a 12-year period can have on deployed soldiers, their families and their community."--San Antonio Express-News
"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
Table of Contents:
Prologue: "Don't Fuckin' Leave Any of This Shit Out" 1
1 A Site of Exception 27
2 Heat, Weight, Metal, Gore, Exposure 50
3 Being Stuck and Other Problems in the Reproduction of Life 93
4 Vicissitudes of Love 134
5 War Economy 179
Postscript: So-called Resiliency 223
Appendix: Army Rank Structure 235