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Homefront: A Military City and the American Twentieth Century Paperback – November 18, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0807055090 ISBN-10: 0807055093

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (November 18, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807055093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807055090
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Arguing that "a government's power grows in the bloody medium of war," Lutz (Unnatural Emotions), an anthropologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, sets up Fayetteville, N.C., as a microcosmic, historical case study. The town is host to Fort Bragg, where the U.S. Army's crack 18th Airborne corps, a combat-ready unit, is stationed. Lutz begins her story with the founding of Fort Bragg in 1916 and the dismantling of Fayetteville's socially complex, multiracial farming community. This eventually led to complicated economic arrangements in which civilians were dependent upon the base for work, with little other economic advantage to the community. (Loss of sales tax, for instance, for goods bought at the tax-exempt PX amounted to $12 million in 2001.) Racial and gender inequalities that the base fostered during WWII as well as the role it played in supporting drug trade and prostitution during the Vietnam war are examined. Moving into the more recent past, Lutz's analysis of the effect of a war-preparedness economy and mentality upon civilians, basic norms and infrastructures is impressive. Drawing from a wealth of interviews with residents, whom she quotes extensively, Lutz backs up and contextualizes pronouncements on the poor state of the schools, public transportation and the environment. While Lutz writes from an overtly progressive position, any reader will find her conclusions ("the distinction between civilian and military [in post-Cold War base towns] has worn down, rather than intensified") provocative.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Lutz, an anthropologist, profiles Fayetteville, North Carolina, home of the giant army post Fort Bragg, to gain insights into the impact of militarization on American society. Through this intimate portrait of Fayetteville, Lutz shows how increased military spending and government involvement in war enlarges the power of the government and shrinks local laws and customs. She traces the town's history from 1918, when it first lobbied for armaments factories, to the present. Lutz sees Fayetteville as representative of other military towns throughout the U.S. Military spending brings factory jobs and other spin-offs to the local economy and shapes the values and viewpoints of the local community. Lutz focuses on the hidden costs to society of constant military preparedness since World War II. In the case of Fayetteville, the army base has directly and indirectly contributed to high levels of poverty, child abuse, crime, prostitution, and female unemployment, along with seething racial tensions and inequality. Lutz also explores how our society has been shaped by the "violence our nation has made and threatened." Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Residents of Fayetteville, North Carolina awoke one morning in April of 1954 to find the front page of their local paper carrying news of a nuclear attack downtown; they were informed that sixty-four thousand soldiers were being deployed to amend the situation, aided by six tons of maps and forty-six chaplains. The attack, of course, was a fiction, but the soldiers and their simulated nuclear reaction mission (Exercise Flash Burn) were very real. Catherine Lutz demonstrates in Homefront: A Military City that the life of Fayetteville cannot disentangle itself from the life of Fort Bragg, the nation's largest military base. This study by the renowned anthropologist from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is both as specific as a city history and as broad as a national story. Though Lutz uses Fayetteville as a zooming-in point, her argument-that the dichotomies of military and civilian, war-time and peace-time, are collapsing-is applicable to the country as a whole.
Fayetteville, a city of one hundred thousand semi-affectionately known as "Fayettenam," was chosen as the centerpiece for this project because of its long and bittersweet relationship with Fort Bragg. Lutz traces this history from 1918 (when the city's founding fathers first lured the lucrative industry to the collective pocketbook of the townsfolk), through the patriotism and turmoil of the World Wars and the bitter clashes of the Vietnam War, to the present-day Hot Peace. Relations between the base and the city are both interdependent and strained so that, upon the close inspection Lutz conducts, it becomes unclear where the line between the two is drawn, if indeed it can be drawn at all. Lutz describes Fayetteville's economy as engineered to serve the needs of soldiers on paydays.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed reading "HomeFront" by Catherine Lutz. I moved to Fayetteville many years ago. I witnessed many of the things that Mrs. Lutz discusses in her book. I often wondered why Fayetteville developed as it did. Ms. Lutz does a great job of explaining the complex economic, racial and political dynamics that created Fayetteville, NC. As Ms. Lutz points out, the military has had a massive impact on America over the last 50 years. Perhaps the best example of the cost of the military in human and economic terms is Fayetteville, NC. I did take exception with some of her observations. I'm not sure Ft. Bragg is the largest military installation. I believe that distinction belongs to Ft. Hood. Additionally, it seemed that Ms. Lutz was at times overly harse about the military presence in Fayetteville. The information on the use of training areas also seemed inaccurate. The chapter that discusses the economic impact of the military on Fayetteville was especially well done. Her analysis of the economic impact was even handed and well-researched. Although the book is about Fayetteville, NC, her observations are really about America and the impact of the military over the last century. I'm amazed it's taken so long for some one to provide a unique and well-researched perspective on America's quintessential military town and how the military has changed America. The notes section of Homefront alone is worth reading. Ms. Lutz provides outstanding background information which attest to the great research that went into writing Homefront. As America fights another war, Ms. Lutz's book is extremely well timed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By henry m silveira on November 30, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent description of the complex relationship between a community and a military base that abuts it.Most readers will be surprised to learn some of the negative consequences.Our preconceived notion that a military base is a boon to a local community is seriously challenged.
Along with the analysis of the town-base relationship, there is a
good critique of our defense expenditures.
The writing is crisp and the statements are well documented.The book will appeal to readers who are interested in a serious study of the effect of a military base on the surrounding area.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book, although a specific case study of one town, is an excellent way to learn or be reminded of the complex relationship between war and our society. While many persist in seeing military strength and military action in black and white terms, a writer like Lutz reminds us that the apparatus of war right here in our towns and cities affects lives in complicated and enduring ways, day in and day out, whether or not it is a time of war. It always seems easier to criticize the mistakes of the past. Lutz's book makes us question the complications of a present that many of our leaders would like us to keep seeing in simple terms.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Homefront is brilliant, incisive and chilling. Catherine Lutz is among the finest of story-tellers and ethnographers of contemporary America. With an anthropologist's eye for detail in the everyday, to a social theorist's eye for the big picture, Homefront is written with passion and intelligence. This book goes a long way in enhancing the readers' understanding of the culture of militarism that is so integral to the present moment. This is definitely a must-read!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Catherine Lutz has once again taken us beneath the surface to get a first hand look at the powerful forces shaping America's psyche, forces so interwined in our lives that they have become almost invisble. But with the anthropologist's trained eye, Professor Lutz helps us to see that in this time of calls for military protection for every parade and football game across the country, a call which many are ready to support, we will be paying a bill on many dimensions. Her careful and thoughtful analysis in the works long before the tragic events of 9/11, is more important than ever in helping us understand the larger consequences of our reponse. It is not easy to ask unpopular questions, but I am thankful for the skill and rigor Lutz brought to the task
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