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The Complex

How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives

Nick Turse

Metropolitan Books

The Complex Download image

ISBN10: 0805089195
ISBN13: 9780805089196

Trade Paperback

304 Pages



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The new, high-tech military-industrial complex is an omnipresent, hidden-in-plain-sight system of systems that penetrates the lives of Americans. Historian Nick Turse explores the Pentagon's little-noticed contacts and contracts with the products and companies whose presence is ubiquitous and commonplace across the country—from iPods to Starbucks to Oakley sunglasses. Turse investigates the remarkable range of military incursions into the civilian world: the Pentagon's collaborations with Hollywood filmmakers; its outlandish schemes to weaponize the wild kingdom; its joint ventures with the World Wrestling Federation and NASCAR. He shows the inventive ways the military, in the search for new recruits, now looks among children and young adults by tapping into the "culture of cool" by making "friends" on MySpace.

The Complex offers a unique perspective on the militarization of America. The country's needs and the Pentagon's goals have changed since Eisenhower's military-industrial complex. This is a guide to understanding its twenty-first-century progeny.


Praise for The Complex

"Turse's new book, structured as a series of short but dense snapshots of everything from the 'Military-Petroleum Complex' to the 'Military-Doughnut Complex' (really), is a tour of the DoD's forays into commerce, entertainment, academia, and social networking, as well as an education in what the word 'support' really means."—Mother Jones

"This is a deeply disturbing audit of the Pentagon's influence on American life, especially its subtle conscription of popular imagination and entertainment technology. If Nick Turse is right, the ‘Matrix' may be just around the corner."—Mike Davis, author of Buda's Wagon: A Brief History of the Car Bomb

"When President Eisenhower warned of the dangers to democracy posed by the military-industrial complex, he had no idea how far it would penetrate into every aspect of our everyday lives. In impressive detail, Nick Turse shows how the military is now tied to everything from your morning cup of Starbucks to the video games your kids play before turning in for the night. It's not just political anymore—it's personal. Turse sounds the alarm bell about the militarization of everyday life. Now it's up to us to do something about it."—Bill Hartung, author of How Much Are You Making on the War Daddy?

"Nick Turse's searing, investigative journalism reveals just how deeply embedded in our lives the war-making system is and why we should be viscerally alarmed. He exposes how, with a growing contingent of corporate/entertainment/academic/media collaborators, the Pentagon has not only garrisoned the globe, but come home to dominate the United States. For anyone interested in understanding the crisis this country is in, The Complex is indispensable reading."—Dahr Jamail, author of Beyond the Green Zone

"Americans who still think they can free themselves from the clutches of the military-industrial complex need to read this book. For example, the gimmicks the Pentagon uses to deceive, entrap, and sign up gullible 18 to 24 year-olds are anything but voluntary. Nick Turse has produced a brilliant exposé of the Pentagon's pervasive influence in our lives."—Chalmers Johnson, author of Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic

"Freelance journalist Turse hits on a fact well-known to anyone in the film and television business: The military spends lavishly in the civilian sphere, and the private sector rushes to milk whatever it can from the defense budget. In the instance of Apple, he writes, the military equipped flyers and on-the-ground tacticians with PowerBooks. Did Steve Jobs make a push to get his products, and not Bill Gates's, into the hands of the troopers? That would be a different story, but that's not the one Turse tells . . . The military has funded basic research at universities for a century; a newish development, as Turse properly points out, is that the R&D budget has mushroomed in the last few years, a byproduct of the growth of military spending in general . . . Another sort-of-new development is the Defense Department's interest in video games as training devices, which has brought many a graphic-art and game-design graduates a paycheck."—Kirkus Reviews

"In his exhaustively researched first book concerning the extent to which the 'military industrial complex' has infiltrated the life of the average American, journalist Turse starts off by documenting how many times supposedly innocent consumer choices support major Pentagon contractors, and then covers similar ground in greater detail. Turse has up-to-date information on a previously well-covered subject and casts a wide net, including the movie industry, video gaming and military recruitment tactics, in his analysis. Many of Turse's facts are purely economic, but some of them are astonishing. Who knew, for example, that in 2005, the Department of Defense spent $1.2 million on donuts in Kuwait? Or that Harvard received over $300 million in DoD funds in 2002, after being pressured, despite concerns about discrimination, to allow military recruiters access to its law school students?"—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads


Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


Before the Complex of today came into existence there were the immensely powerful arms manufacturers of Eisenhower's military-industrial complex. They haven't exactly gone away. During Eisenhower's last...

About the author

Nick Turse

Nick Turse holds a doctorate in sociomedical sciences from Columbia University. He is the associate editor and research director of, and has written for such publications as the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Nation, and The Village Voice, as well as for a host of online sites. Turse currently lives near New York City.

Nick Turse

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