by Nick Turse - £9.99 Faber and Faber (2009)
paperback ISBN 13: 9780571228201 | ISBN 10: 0571228208
Once upon a time there was the military-industrial complex, which even an American president feared was too powerful. That was in the fifties.
Now there is a network so pervasive that it involves society at every level - technology, science, the media, food companies, clothes, cars and, perhaps especially, the entertainment marketed by computer corporations and Hollywood. This is a complex that is part of our lives in all kinds of hidden and obvious ways - a real-life matrix before our eyes.
Hip street wear and popular video games are modelled on, and sometimes come straight out of, military training programmes. Extreme sports of all kinds, designed to attract young people, receive close attention from a US army desperate to swell its ranks. Almost every apparently benign company that shapes the way we communicate or dress or eat - Apple, Reebok, IBM, Mars, Levi's - has contracts with the new complex. Young people who've grown up playing violent computer games make ideal recruits.
Much of Nick Turss' book, which is full of astonishing facts and connections, is concerned with the delirious reality of America, but the developments he describes are operating in every Western society.
The bizarre projects that Turse reveals at DARPA - the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency - are the stuff of science fiction: rats kitted out with spyware; weaponised bees and sharks, brain-machine interfaces that will allow soldiers to fire deadly weapons by thinking about it; new combat suits modelled on Sigourney Weaver's exoskeletal outfit in the Alien movies.
It is a weird world that Nick Turse describes. It is, unfortunately, very life our own.
(Price & availability last checked: August 2018)
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