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The Gulf War Did Not Take Place Paperback – October 22, 1995


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Paperback, October 22, 1995
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; First Paperback edition (October 22, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253210038
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253210036
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #808,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

The hypothesis of this book is that the deterrence of war in the traditional sense has been internalized and turned back upon the Western powers, producing a form of self-deterrence which renders them incapable of realizing their own power in the form of relations of force.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By N. P. Stathoulopoulos on March 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
Provacativively titled book either impresses or deeply angers people, I read this years ago and retained only a few points of interest.

Yes, the war happened, as in bombs were dropped, people died, buildings were destroyed, many suffered, etc. But it differed markedly from previous wars in that it was mainly an event to be manipulated by different sides in the media. Therefore, it did not take place the way previous wars had, in that the suffering and even a uniform understanding did not penetrate the population at home who watched the events on CNN.

Unfortunately, all of this business about the 'realness' of the war, and the simulacra, and the hyper-reality we're now mired in, is written in a frustrating and unnecessarily bloated style that makes even this slim work a slight chore at times. Can certainly be expressed in a simpler way, therefore appearing less profound, but then it wouldn't be the work of French postmodern philosopher. Interesting 'take' on a modern war, with points that would only resonate more in the years since, it's hit-or-miss for most readers of current events (more for the philosophy crowd).
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Anderson on February 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book basically describes how the first Iraq war differed from traditional wars of the past. It is not for everyone, Baudrillard has the unfortunate position of being too loose with ideas to be taken very seriously by 'real' academics while at the same time writing in a style that is not easily accessible to a popular audience. His thesis is that the 'war' was primarily a media event that was useful in different ways to both sides of the conflict. He does not dispute that violence and suffering took place, but suggests that the event was not a war as was defined in the past by Clausewitz. Any review that states he is trying to 'hide' the essential suffering of those at the ground of the event is just wrong. There is nothing in the book that questions or calls into doubt the experiences of soldiers or civilians; at the same time it does not dwell upon them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sid Nuncius TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
I thought this book was largely (but not quite entirely) provocative nonsense. There is some decent sociological analysis in it, but there is also a very large amount of utter drivel.

Plainly, the title is intended to shock (and it's a clever reference to Jean Giraudoux's play), but Baudrillard simply fails to make any sort of case to support it. He argues that the war we were presented with on TV and through government propaganda isn't the same as the war as it happened. This is true, but hardly profound or original; "In war, truth is the first casualty" has been attributed to Aeschylus two and a half millennia ago, and although he gives some modern analysis of this, Baudrillard doesn't get far beyond it.

The real trouble begins when Baudrillard attempts to describe "reality," because in using the word "reality" to mean "one person's subjective truth" postmodernists like Baudrillard muddle the distinction between fact and interpretation, and sometimes use the muddle dishonestly. For example, Baudrillard laments the lack of a declaration of war, then says "Since it never began, this war is therefore interminable". Now, if he'd said "The lack of a clearly defined declaration makes a clearly defined end very difficult, and the successors to Saddam's regime will have to deal with insurgents for a very long time" he'd have made a good point and been proved right by recent events. But he doesn't do anything of the sort. He claims that the war never began, which is simply not the case. This is simply denying facts, not commenting on perceptions of them. And to use the phrase ".....is therefore interminable" implies some logical imperative which just isn't there.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Martin Asiner on September 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
When the forces of Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, the result was very nearly bloodless. The real blood began to be spilled only during the Occupation. When an international coalition retaliated by striking back, the result may not have been quite as swift or as bloodless, but it was pretty close. While hostilities from both wars were going on, Jean Baudrillard was paying attention in a way that few others must have been doing. To him, both wars were not wars at all, at least not in the traditional Clausewitzean sense. Most societies envisioned war as brutal and bloody, causing much harm to a great many combatants and non-combatants. In the case of the Gulf War, Baudrillard insists that the calculus of war had changed in a fundamental way. The difference lay in the interaction between the media and the opposing armies. Before hostilities had even begun, both sides had run innumerable computer simulations of pertinent variables. By changing one variable, one outcome emerged. By changing another, a newer outcome resulted. These outcomes looked real and sounded real to those writing the programming. A variable reality was created that could not be distinguished from the eventual real thing. It is this relentless focus on the creation of simulacra that had been the obsession of Baudrillard for nearly twenty years.

The Gulf War Did Not Take Place is a slim volume of three essays that were published over a three month period as separate pieces for a French newspaper Libération and a British newspaper The Guardian. The original title of each is telling. The first was "The Gulf War Will not Take Place." The second: "The Gulf War is not Really Taking Place." The third: "The Gulf War did not Take Place.
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