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Shadows of War: Violence, Power, and International Profiteering in the Twenty-First Century

by Carolyn Nordstrom University of California Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 306 pages
AU$62.00 NZ$64.35
Product Status: In Stock Now
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& Academics:
In this provocative and compelling examination of the deep politics of war, Carolyn Nordstrom takes us from the immediacy of war-zone survival, through the offices of power brokers, to vast extra-legal networks that fuel war and international profiteering. She captures the human face of the front lines, revealing both the visible and the hidden realities of war in the twenty-first century. Shadows of War is grounded in ethnographic research carried out at the epicenters of political violence on several continents. Its pages are populated not only with the perpetrators and victims of war but also with the scoundrels, silent heroes, and average families who live their lives in the midst of explosive violence. War reconfigures our most basic notions of humanity, Nordstrom demonstrates. This book, of crucial importance at the present moment, shows that war is enmeshed in struggles over the very foundations of the sovereign state, the crafting of economic empires both legal and illegal, and innovative searches for peace. Nordstrom describes the multi-trillion-dollar international financial networks that support warfare. She traces the entangled routes by which illegal drugs, precious gems, weapons, basic food supplies, and pharmaceuticals are moved by an international cast of businesspeople, profiteers, and black-market operators. Shadows of War demonstrates how the experiences of both the architects of war and of ordinary people are deleted from media accounts and replaced with stories about soldiers, weapons, and territory. For the first time, this book retrieves from the shadows the faces of those whose stories seldom reach the light of international recognition.


1. Prologue
2. A Conversation in a Bar at the Front
3. Making Things Invisible

4. Finding the Front Lines
5. Violence
6. Power

7. Entering the Shadows
8. A First Exploratory Definition of the Shadows
9. The Cultures of the Shadows: The Meat, Potatoes, Diamonds, and Guns of Daily Life

10. The Institutionalization of the Shadows: (Habits of War Mar Landscapes of Peace)
11. The Autobiography of a Man Called Peace
12. The Time of Not War Not Peace
13. Peace
14. The Problems with Peace

15. Ironies in the Shadows: (Literally) Untold Profits and a Key Source of Development
16. Why Don't We Study the Shadows?
17. Epilogue: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Postscript: The War of the Month Club—Iraq

Carolyn Nordstrom is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of A Different Kind of War Story (1997) and the coeditor of Fieldwork under Fire: Contemporary Studies of Violence and Surviv