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Barbed Wire

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  40 ratings  ·  8 reviews
From the devil's rope to no man's land, "a vital work of cultural criticism" (Publishers Weekly).

No less than the internal combustion engine, the transistor, or the silicon chip, barbed wire is a quintessentially modern invention, a product that has influenced the lives of millions of people across the globe since its invention in the late nineteenth century. Barbed Wire:

Published (first published 2000)
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I think that anyone alive today would benefit from reading this book. Barbed wire is inevitably a perfect metaphor for the despicable way humans are treated, and this book was a great reminder of how often human captivity occurs in the world under the premise of lies. It focuses on its use in the genocide of indigenous North Americans, trench warfare in WW1, and concentration camps in WW2.
I skimmed the last 3 pages because I wanted to return it to Solidarity before I had to be back at work, but
I enjoyed reading Barbed Wire: A Political History, but I felt that there was something lacking. I would consider this book to be more of a short introduction to this oftentimes (morbidly) fascinating topic. For me, this book would have been better if included more technical information about "the devil's rope". However as it stands, this Barbed Wire: A Political History was a quick and interesting summary of the occasions where barbed wire shaped the world.
Melissa Rudder
Olivier Razac’s book, Barbed Wire: A Political History explores the importance of barbed wire, specifically on the American Prairie, during the Great War’s trench warfare, and in the architecture of Nazi concentration camps. By examining both the practical advantages and symbolic meanings of barbed wire in each of the three historical uses, Razac uncovers a common underlying purpose for barbed wire in its past employment, arguing that barbed wire is often used to distinguish between social group ...more
I really enjoyed Razac's book, not a history so much as part political economy/part cultural studies. Razac is quite powerful when he explores how barbed wire develops and becomes not just a kind of fence but a way to define space, who can belong to what space and how spaces become symbolically loaded. Barbed wire becomes a boundary that divides US/THEM and sets up power relationships that themselves become the foundation for historical development of socio-cultural and state systems.
In two sections, the first looking at three specific periods of history and how barbed wire was used at the time- the settling of the American West, the trenches in WWI and the German Concentration Camps of WWII. The second examines how the wire was used to divide peoples and worlds, how it has ended up have connotations of control and even less positive meanings. And how does this fit into my reading tastes and the world I inhabit (Marklandia)? It all revolves around the way that barbed wire is ...more
Ultimately more of a surface-level introduction than a deep analysis, but really well written.
Kris McCracken
A political and cultural history of barbed wire. Razac focuses on focuses on the use of barbed wire in three crucial aspects of modern history: by American ranchers during the mid/late 1800s to both parcel up land for private use and end the roaming ways of Native Americans; as an effective killer in the defensive stalemates of World War One; and lastly that of the concentration camps of World War Two. Quite French, but don't hold that against it... B.
Tells the history and the use of barbed wire over the years since its invention in the US. Very interesting.
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