Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Preface

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pp. vii-x

As I was fi nishing this book, I had the good fortune to receive a kind of unsolicited endorsement from the U.S. Department of State. On December 7, 2010, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul acknowledged that it was providing major funding for thirteen episodes of Eagle Four—a new Afghani television melodrama based loosely on the popular U.S. series...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-43

On September 17, 2001—six days after terrorists slammed jetliners into the World Trade Center and Pentagon—President George W. Bush signed a Memorandum of Notifications authorizing the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to launch what the correspondent Jane Mayer called “the most aggressive, ambitious covert-action plan seen since the...

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1 Brainwashed!

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pp. 44-75

On October 2, 2005, three months after the coordinated bombing of the London transportation system and three days before the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved John McCain’s Detainee Treatment Act, the British home secretary, Charles Clarke, attempted to explain terrorism by invoking a specter of the Cold War. Islamic terrorists,...

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2 Spectacles of Secrecy

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pp. 76-109

Why has the Rosenberg affair been so important to postmodern U.S. historical fiction? While American slavery is the dominant subject of the genre, few events have drawn so much high-powered attention as the 1953 execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for conspiracy to commit espionage. The subject of three of the most important literary achievements...

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3 False Documents

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pp. 110-142

In a 2006 panel discussion of the Rosenberg affair, E. L. Doctorow defended the inventions of historical novelists this way: “Our justification and our salvation is that people know we’re liars. . . . The kind of genre-blurring done by the President of the United States is quite different. He is a storyteller, a fabulist, and presents as truth and...

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4 The Work of Art in the Age of Plausible Deniability

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pp. 143-170

The defense of imaginative writing against the claims of history and other “serious” discourses dates back at least to Philip Sidney’s late sixteenth-century Defence of Poesy. But when did the defense of poetry begin to invoke the deceptions of the state? When, that is, did novelists begin to trumpet the value of fiction over history and nonfictional...

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5 Postmodern Amnesia

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pp. 171-198

Poor David Webb. Webb—aka Jason Bourne, the CIA assassin created by Robert Ludlum and catapulted to Hollywood fame by the directors Doug Liman and Paul Greengrass—cannot remember who he is or what he has done. What he does know is that his work has not been nice. He possesses astonishing physical and mental skills. He is a preternaturally...

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6 The Geopolitical Melodrama

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pp. 199-222

Two responses dominated early American attempts to comprehend the bombings of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. The first was a widespread sense of disbelief and confusion about the possible motives for such an attack. Americans repeatedly asked why anyone would perpetrate such acts. What had the United...

Notes

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pp. 223-256

Works Cited

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pp. 257-278

Index

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pp. 279-290