The history of animals and humans as seen through barbed wire.
In this original and controversial book, historian and philosopher Reviel Netz explores the development of a controlling and pain-inducing technology—barbed wire. Surveying its development from 1874 to 1954, Netz describes its use to control cattle during the colonization of the American West and to control people in Nazi concentration camps and the Russian Gulag. Physical control over space was no longer symbolic after 1874.
This is a history told from the perspective of its victims. With vivid examples of the interconnectedness of humans, animals, and the environment, this dramatic account of barbed wire presents modern history through the lens of motion being prevented. Drawing together the history of humans and animals, Netz delivers a compelling new perspective on the issues of colonialism, capitalism, warfare, globalization, violence, and suffering. Theoretically sophisticated but written with a broad readership in mind, Barbed Wire calls for nothing less than a reconsideration of modernity.
List of Maps and Figures
Expansion: The American West and the Invention of Barbed Wire
Unpacking the Louisiana Purchase
How to Fence a Cow
How to Fence the World
Confrontation: Barbed Wire on the Battlefield
Conquest by Iron
Crisis of the Horse
Perfection of the Obstacle
The Obstacle Triumphant
Containment: Barbed Wire in the Concentration Camps
The Control of Nations
Tractors to Ukraine
Trains to Auschwitz
"Stunningly thought-provoking and beautifully grim in bearing witness to a larger meaning of technology, this book makes a supple use of traditional sources to discuss place and containment, with utterly novel generalizations about human economic activities and the appropriation of space."~Paul F. Starrs, author of Let the Cowboy Ride
"This meticulous, searching, and highly original examination of violence and oppression weaves together entirely unexpected strands onto a deeply disturbing picture of how the modern world evolved, and raises hard questions, starkly delineated, challenging and profoundly significant."~Noam Chomsky, professor of linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology