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Light It Up

, 240 pages

7 b&w photos, 3 b&w illus., 1 line drawing

September 2015



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Light It Up

The Marine Eye for Battle in the War for Iraq

American military power in the War on Terror has increasingly depended on the capacity to see the enemy. The act of seeing—enhanced by electronic and digital technologies—has separated shooter from target, eliminating risk of bodily harm to the remote warrior, while YouTube videos eroticize pulling the trigger and video games blur the line between simulated play and fighting.

Light It Up examines the visual culture of the early twenty-first century military. Focusing on the Marine Corps, which played a critical part in the invasion and occupation of Iraq, John Pettegrew argues that U.S. military force in the Iraq War was projected through an "optics of combat." Powerful military technology developed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has placed war in a new posthuman era.

Pettegrew’s interviews with marines, as well as his analysis of first-person shooter videogames and combat footage, lead to startling insights into the militarization of popular digital culture. An essential study for readers interested in modern warfare, policy makers, and historians of technology, war, and visual and military culture.

John Pettegrew, an associate professor of history and director of the American Studies Program at Lehigh University, is the author of Brutes in Suits: Male Sensibility in America, 1890–1920.

"A bold, complex, wonderfully written book with a revolutionary thesis: that technologies of seeing and the outlook of marines combine to form a 'projection of force' beyond the traditional meaning of the concept. Provocative and original."

"An intriguing book that will spark productive discussions in the classroom and beyond. Pettegrew's compelling account draws shocking and persuasive connections between videogames, optical technologies, and institutionalized violence."

"Examines how [video game] technologies have affected the training and actual fighting of U.S. marines... Pettegrew’s book is filled with interesting and thought-provoking material."

"This book does two things: it addresses a worthwhile subject, and it makes us think."

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