Thursday, February 19, 2009

Women at War or Publics and Counterpublics

Women at War: Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Conflicts

Author: James E Wis

Today, women in all U.S. military services are involved in the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. They serve as pilots and crewmen of assault helicopters, bombers, fighters, and transport planes, and are frequently engaged in firefights with enemy insurgents while guarding convoys, traveling in hostile territory, or performing military police duties. Like their male counterparts, they carry out their missions with determination and great courage. The advent of the insurgency war, which has no rear or front lines, has made the debate regarding women in combat irrelevant. In such a war zone anyone can be killed or injured at any moment. The stories of these courageous women are told by James E. Wise and Scott Baron, who use a format similar to the one employed with such success in the book Stars in Blue. The profiles of some thirty women and their photographs are included. To record their stories, the authors conducted numerous personal interviews, and in every case Wise and Baron were struck by the women's extraordinary display of dedication to their mission and to the soldiers and sailors with whom they served. Because the service of women in the military has been under reported to date, most of the women included in this book will be unknown to readers and reveal another dimension to the service of women in the desert and the vital role they play in the armed forces. While the book's focus is on today's women in combat, it also reaches back to Vietnam, Korea, and World War II to offer selected stories of inspiring women who served at the "cusp of the spear" as they fought and died for their country.

Book review: The Merry Baker of Riga or Aromas and Flavors of Past and Present

Publics and Counterpublics

Author: Michael Warner

Most of the people around us belong to our world not directly, as kin or comrades, but as strangers. How do we recognize them as members of our world? We are related to them as transient participants in common publics. Indeed, most of us would find it nearly impossible to imagine a social world without publics. In the eight essays in this book, Michael Warner addresses the question: What is a public?

According to Warner, the idea of a public is one of the central fictions of modern life. Publics have powerful implications for how our social world takes shape, and much of modern life involves struggles over the nature of publics and their interrelations. The idea of a public contains ambiguities, even contradictions. As it is extended to new contexts, politics, and media, its meaning changes in ways that can be difficult to uncover.

Combining historical analysis, theoretical reflection, and extensive case studies, Warner shows how the idea of a public can reframe our understanding of contemporary literary works and politics and of our social world in general. In particular, he applies the idea of a public to the junction of two intellectual traditions: public-sphere theory and queer theory.

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