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August 9, 2006

Reading for Pleasure Wednesday: Homefront

It's Reading for Pleasure Wednesday again (okay, technically, it's Thursday, again), and I just happened to pick up Catherine Lutz's Homefront: A Military City and the American 20th Century, an urban anthropolgy about my new place of residence, Fayetteville, North Carolina, and its complicated relationship to Fort Bragg. Lutz's book explores what she calls "the costs of being a country ever ready for battle" (2), and it has proven to be a good overview of the intertwined histories of Fayetteville and Fort Bragg. In some sense, I'm already learning a lot about this history simply by talking to locals, hanging out at coffeehouses and bars, and simply by driving through the city's different neighborhoods, but given that I'll be living here for a while, I think it's worthwhile to learn as much as I can about the city's culture and history. Lutz traces this history back to the origins of Fort Bragg during World War I and, in the chapter I'm currently reading, describes Cold War training operations that used civilians as mock enemies.

Lutz's book beautifully mixes archival research, military records, and oral histories in providing a portrait of Fayetteville. As this review from the Quaker House Newsletter article and this Independent Weekly review indicate, the book was greeted with some controversy when it was originally published in 2001. I'm off to catch Deerhoof in concert, so I'll have to revisit this topic later, but the book is a fascinating read even if you're not specifically interested in Fayetteville itself but interested in what it represents as a "military city." More on Homefront later.

Posted by chuck at August 9, 2006 3:01 PM

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