Cover

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Title Page

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pp. i-iii

Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iv-v

Contents

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p. vii

List of Maps and Figures

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p. viii

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Acknowledgments

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p. ix

Research for this book was begun when I was at MIT as a fellow at the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology. Then, and since, I was fortunate to have access to important collections: at Harvard, the Widener Library and the Baker Business Library (housing the U.S. Steel and Wire Company archive); at Stanford—where I teach—the Green Library and the Hoover Institute...

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xiv

Define, on the two-dimensional surface of the earth, lines across which motion is to be prevented, and you have one of the key themes of history. With a closed line (i.e., a curve enclosing a figure), and the prevention of motion from outside the line to its inside, you derive the idea of property. With the same line, and the prevention of motion...

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1 Expansion

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pp. 1-55

Your first question is simple: when and where was barbed wire invented? Let us start with the simple answer: barbed wire was invented in 1874, for use on the American Great Plains. Let me be more precise so that we may begin looking for the essence of the tool. Its goal was to prevent the motion of cows; its function relied on violence; its success...

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2 Confrontation

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pp. 56-127

It was remembered as a period of peace and civilization. War was somewhere else; one could combine the thrills of warring with those of sightseeing. Let us follow, for instance, Winston Churchill, a youthful journalist-soldier. We join him in 1895 as he sails to Cuba (merely twenty-one years old, he works for the...

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3 Containment

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pp. 128-227

Would barbed wire be useful for the problem of controlling civilians? At first sight, it might appear to be incongruously violent. Its very function was based on inflicting harm. This was quite appropriate for animals, with which humans always did communicate through the language of pain. But with humans, verbal threats are as effective...

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Epilogue

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pp. 228-238

...The first thesis is straightforward: history is embodied. We sometimes think as if history is made of names, dates, and ideas that interact in an abstract space of relations and influences. But history is not at all abstract: it is a matter of flesh-and-blood individuals interacting in material space. History is not like chess; it is more like wrestling. Of course, this point...

Notes

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pp. 239-250

References

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pp. 251-259

Index

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pp. 261-267

About the Author

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p. 269