Barbed Wire by Olivier Razac
A Political History

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Synopsis

A political history of the everyday invention that changed the world. No less than the internal combustion engine, the transistor, or the silicon chip, barbed wire is the quintessentially modern creation, a product that has influenced the lives of millions of people across the globe since its invention in the late nineteenth century. In this far-ranging work of historical analysis, French historian Olivier Razac makes a major—and unexpected—addition to the list of technologies that have come to define the modern world, uncovering the hidden political history of barbed wire for the first time. Cheap and mass-produced, barbed wire accomplished what no other product did before it, or has since done more effectively: the control of vast amounts of open space. As Razac shows, few other technologies did more to usher in the hallmarks of the modern era: the harnessing of nature, brutal mass warfare, political conquest and repression, and genocide. In a narrative that spans the history of the American Frontier, the trenches of World War I, the Holocaust, and beyond, Barbed Wire looks unflinchingly at a central and fascinating thread of modern life. Barbed Wire is illustrated with rare photographs from European and American archives. 40 b/w photographs.
 

About Olivier Razac

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Olivier Razac lives in Lyons, France. A philosopher by training, he is completing a doctoral dissertation on the genealogy of biopower.
 
Published June 5, 2003 by New Press, The. 144 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Science & Math, Computers & Technology, Professional & Technical, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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The Guardian

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The Devil's Rope: A Cultural History Of Barbed Wire by Alan Krell 222pp, Reaktion Books, £16.95 Barbed Wire: A Political History by Oliver Razac translated by Jonathan Kneight 148pp, Profile Books, £6.99 Contemplating these works, I assessed my own barbed wire reference points.

Dec 14 2002 | Read Full Review of Barbed Wire: A Political History

Publishers Weekly

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Arguing that barbed wire is "the political management of space," Razac traces how it radicalized trench warfare during WWI (making trenches safer, but rendering the battle field far more dangerous) and, electrified, literally defined the space of Nazi concentration camps (later, it became "the sy...

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