Cover

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Frontmatter

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CONTENTS

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

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p. ix

I would not have started on this book without the time and space made available to me during a research fellowship at Darwin College, Cambridge. I would not have finished it without the continued financial and collegial support of the School of English at Newcastle University. A British Academy award made it possible...

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INTRODUCTION: Dirty Wars

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pp. 1-17

In Richard Powers's novel Prisoner's Dilemma (1988), an account of the insular Hobson family's struggle with the deteriorating health of their eccentric father Eddie is broken up by italicized interchapters that make up Eddie's secret project, Hobstown. Over the years, Eddie has narrated into a tape recorder his personal history...

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1. THE PURLOINED LANDSCAPE

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pp. 19-47

Michel Foucault's 1976 Collège de France lectures outlined the emergence, in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, of a form of historical discourse that sought to counter the traditional function of history as a celebration and memorialization of sovereignty and sovereigns. Instead of reminding readers of the antiquity...

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2. THE PREHISTORY OF THE PERMANENT WAR ECONOMY

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pp. 49-72

Blood Meridian, published in 1985, is Cormac McCarthy's first novel set in the Southwest. While the subsequent volumes that make up The Border Trilogy are concerned with the period from the 1930s to the present, Blood Meridian is temporally located in the 1840s, in the years following the Mexican War and the Treaty...

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3. DUST BREEDING: Narratives of Inter(n)ment

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pp. 73-99

Blood Meridian's epilogue signals the conversion of space into a legible resource through its delineation as a grid of consumable packets. This reterritorialization of "wasteland" overwrites the open space of prehistory as part of the map of the nation, an integration of the outside into the form of the state. The eradication of prior...

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4. LEARNING FROM LOS ALAMOS

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pp. 101-124

Maj. John H. Dudley, charged with locating the site for America's secret nuclear program, came to Los Alamos, as Peter Bacon Hales observes, "seeking a contradiction." The colony had to be remote yet convenient enough for the construction workers, scientists, and machinery to access: "[i]t had to be a place...

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5. GRIDLOCKED AND HOMELESS

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pp. 125-155

The restructuring of Western space during World War II as part of a nascent security-driven defense complex displaces and disperses populations even as it contains and polices others. While the wasteland discourse encourages a conception of federally withdrawn spaces as always already vacant, ready to be filled...

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6. LOOMINGS: Dread in West Texas

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pp. 157-176

Confronted with the permanent prospect of imminent nuclear destruction, the reassurances of 1950s civil defense literature that "your tomorrow may depend on today's preparedness" are little more than nostalgia for a time when vigilance could avert disaster. Dwarfed by the immensity of nuclear war, inert anticipation...

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7. AFTER NATURE: Gothic Contamination

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pp. 177-201

"It is in war, famine, and epidemic," claim Deleuze and Guattari, "that werewolves and vampires proliferate."1 Less than a month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, dental surgeon and inventor Dr. Lytle S. Adams decided to write to FDR. In his letter he put forward a remarkable proposal: that the United States...

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8. AFTER NATURE WRITING

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pp. 203-231

While the sometimes lurid excesses of contemporary Western gothic thrillers call attention to themselves as monstrous representations of equally monstrous facts, it is their very implausibility that signals the difficulty of grasping the unseen. These fictions attempt to construct an expanded field of what "nature" might mean...

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9. THE WEST AS COLD WAR MUSEUM

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pp. 233-252

There is a moment in DeLillo's End Zone when Gary Harkness, walking through the West Texas desert, comes across a terrifying "low mound" of "simple shit." Faced with this "terminal act," Harkness's thoughts spiral into a reverie of waste: dogs squatting, incontinent women in nursing homes, butchered animals' intestines...

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10. THE FRINGE OF EMPIRE

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pp. 253-282

"When I was younger," writes Luis Alberto Urrea in Across the Wire (1993), "I went to war. The Mexican border was the battlefield."1 Urrea is referring to his time spent dispensing poor relief among the barrios of Tijuana in the 1970s, where disease, crime, and random violence are everyday symptoms of structural poverty...

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CONCLUSION: Endless War

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pp. 283-296

There is, argues political theorist Michael Shapiro, a "cartographic component" to the "interpretive elaboration of danger" that attempts to identify on the map the location of threat. A correlation exists, Shapiro suggests, "between changing conceptions of the landscape of danger and engagement and alterations in approaches...

NOTES

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pp. 297-338

INDEX

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pp. 339-366