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American Ethnologist

Review essay: Grunt lit: The participant-observers of empire

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Abstract

My War: Killing Time in Iraq. Colby Buzzell. New York: Putnam Adult, 2005. 354 pp., works cited.

The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier's Account of the War in Iraq. John Crawford. New York: Riverhead Books, 2005. xiv + 219 pp.

One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer. Nathaniel Fick. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005. 372 pp., photographs.

Just Another Soldier: A Year on the Ground in Iraq. Jason Christopher Hartley. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. 320 pp., photographs, glossary.

Warlord: No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy. Ilario Pantano. New York: Threshold Editions, 2006. 405 pp., table, map, photographs, glossary.

Chasing Ghosts: A Soldier's Fight for America from Baghdad to Washington. Paul Rieckhoff. New York: Penguin, 2006. 326 pp., map, photographs, glossary, tables, chronology.

Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army. Kayla Williams with Michael Staub. New York: Norton, 2005. 290 pp., photographs.

In this review of firsthand accounts by U.S. military personnel of the Iraq occupation and insurgency, we argue for their importance as informed sources on the multiple, militarized transnational processes that help drive contemporary globalization. Their reflections, we suggest, are shaped by concerns familiar to sociocultural anthropology, including cross-cultural (mis)communication, technology and the media, the performance of gender roles, and the traumatic effects of violence, and as such challenge the discipline to take such military voices seriously, as it does other subaltern, marginalized, disruptive ways of knowing.

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