Jon Ronson: The Men Who Stare at Goats (2005)

31 July 2012, dusan

In 1979 a secret unit was established by the most gifted minds within the U.S. Army. Defying all known accepted military practice — and indeed, the laws of physics — they believed that a soldier could adopt a cloak of invisibility, pass cleanly through walls, and, perhaps most chillingly, kill goats just by staring at them.

Entrusted with defending America from all known adversaries, they were the First Earth Battalion. And they really weren’t joking. What’s more, they’re back and fighting the War on Terror.

With firsthand access to the leading players in the story, Ronson traces the evolution of these bizarre activities over the past three decades and shows how they are alive today within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and in postwar Iraq. Why are they blasting Iraqi prisoners of war with the theme tune to Barney the Purple Dinosaur? Why have 100 debleated goats been secretly placed inside the Special Forces Command Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina? How was the U.S. military associated with the mysterious mass suicide of a strange cult from San Diego? The Men Who Stare at Goats answers these and many more questions.

Publisher Simon & Schuster, 2005
ISBN 0743241924, 9780743241922
272 pages

review (Janet Maslin, The New York Times)
review (Alberto Scardino, The Guardian)
review (Tim Adams, The Observer)

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Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht: In 1926: Living at the Edge of Time (1997)

30 July 2012, dusan

Travel back to the year 1926 and into the rush of experiences that made people feel they were living on the edge of time. Touch a world where speed seemed the very essence of life. It is a year for which we have no expectations. It was not 1066 or 1588 or 1945, yet it was the year A. A. Milne published Winnie-the-Pooh and Alfred Hitchcock released his first successful film, The Lodger. A set of modern masters was at work–Jorge Luis Borges, Babe Ruth, Leni Riefenstahl, Ernest Hemingway, Josephine Baker, Greta Garbo, Franz Kafka, Gertrude Stein, Martin Heidegger–while factory workers, secretaries, engineers, architects, and Argentine cattle-ranchers were performing their daily tasks.

Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht opens up the space-time continuum by exploring the realities of the day such as bars, boxing, movie palaces, elevators, automobiles, airplanes, hair gel, bullfighting, film stardom, dance crazes, and the surprise reappearance of King Tut after a three-thousand-year absence. From the vantage points of Berlin, Buenos Aires, and New York, Gumbrecht ranges widely through the worlds of Spain, Italy, France, and Latin America. The reader is allowed multiple itineraries, following various routes from one topic to another and ultimately becoming immersed in the activities, entertainments, and thought patterns of the citizens of 1926.

We learn what it is to be an “ugly American” in Paris by experiencing the first mass influx of American tourists into Europe. We visit assembly lines which turned men into machines. We relive a celebrated boxing match and see how Jack Dempsey was beaten yet walked away with the hearts of the fans. We hear the voice of Adolf Hitler condemning tight pants on young men. Gumbrecht conveys these fragments of history as a living network of new sensibilities, evoking in us the excitement of another era.

Publisher Harvard University Press, 1997
ISBN 0674000552, 9780674000551
505 pages

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Henri Lefebvre: State, Space, World: Selected Essays (2009)

30 July 2012, dusan

One of the most influential Marxist theorists of the twentieth century, Henri Lefebvre pioneered the study of the modern state in an age of accelerating global economic integration and fragmentation. Shortly after the 1974 publication of his landmark book The Production of Space, Lefebvre embarked on one of the most ambitious projects of his career: a consideration of the history and geographies of the modern state through a monumental study that linked several disciplines, including political science, sociology, geography, and history.

State, Space, World collects a series of Lefebvre’s key writings on the state from this period. Making available in English for the first time the as-yet-unexplored political aspect of Lefebvre’s work, it contains essays on philosophy, political theory, state formation, spatial planning, and globalization, as well as provocative reflections on the possibilities and limits of grassroots democracy under advanced capitalism.

State, Space, World is an essential complement to The Production of Space, The Urban Revolution, and The Critique of Everyday Life. Lefebvre’s original and prescient analyses that emerge in this volume are urgently relevant to contemporary debates on globalization and neoliberal capitalism.

Edited by Neil Brenner and Stuart Elden
Translated by Gerald Moore, Neil Brenner, and Stuart Elden
Publisher University of Minnesota Press, 2009
ISBN 081665316X, 9780816653164
330 pages

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