Sound Targets

Sound Targets

American Soldiers and Music in the Iraq War
Jonathan Pieslak
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 05/04/2009
Format: Paperback 16 b&w illus., 1 map
ISBN: 978-0-253-22087-5
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Though a part of American soldiers' lives since the Revolutionary War, by World War II music could be broadcast to the front. Today it accompanies soldiers from the recruiting office to the battlefield. For this book, Jonathan Pieslak interviewed returning veterans to learn about the place of music in the Iraq War and in contemporary American military culture in general. Pieslak describes how American soldiers hear, share, use, and produce music both on and off duty. He studies the role of music from recruitment campaigns and basic training to its use "in country" before and during missions. Pieslak explores themes of power, chaos, violence, and survival in the metal and hip-hop music so popular among the troops, and offers insight into the daily lives of American soldiers in the Middle East.

Author Bio

Jonathan Pieslak is Associate Professor of Music at the City College and Graduate Center, CUNY. He lives in New York City.


“Featuring interviews with Iraq War veterans on how American soldiers mesh with music in an iPod era, this enlightening book explores themes of power, chaos, violence, and survival in popular metal and hip-hop music, while offering insight into the daily lives of American soldiers in the Middle East.”

“Sound Targets reveals just how pervasively popular music has shaped contemporary U.S. military culture. . . . This thoughtful and provocative study will certainly attract a wide audience concerned with music's roles in the time of war.”
 — W. Anthony Sheppard, author of Revealing Masks: Exotic Influences and Ritualized Performance in Modernist Music Theater

“Pieslak's careful consideration of soldier accounts about music and his detailed analyses of specific musical texts, videos, and repertoires make Sound Targets an important and timely contribution to the growing discourse around music and war.”
 — MUSICultures

“[This] book documents and explains various ways in which music is intertwined throughout the lives of many American soldiers . . . serving in Iraq. The author's purpose for this work is to offer a glimpse into these military lives and add to the literature on music and war. 13 1-2 2010”
 — Music Reference Services Quarterly

“I highly recommend this book for all those interested in relationships between artistic expression and politics, war, militarism, and psychology. Its writing style is both accessible and sophisticated, making it appropriate for use in either undergraduate or graduate courses. October, 2009”
 — Lisa Gilman, University of Oregon

“Pieslak's Sound Targets offers a serious and insightful examination of how music was used by American soldiers in the Iraq War.November 2009”
 — Times Higher Education

“All in all, the author has amassed a profusion of valuable information and data about music and the Iraq War . . . Research into music's role in armed conflict is in its infancy . . . and we are in need of the kinds of histories and contexts he establishes and the accounts he records, especially in such an eminently readable and accessible text. . . . [W]e must recognize Jonathan Pieslak for having bravely opened the door for further exploration through his pioneering study. 29:1, Spring 2011”
 — American Music

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Table of Contents

1. Music in Military Recruiting
2. Music as an Inspiration for Combat
3. Looking at the Opposing Forces: An Introduction to the Music of Anti-American and Anti-Israeli Movements
4. Music as a Psychological Tactic
5. Music as a Form of Soldier Expression
6. Metal and Rap Ideologies in the Iraq War
Appendix 1: Map of Iraq
Appendix 2: Soldier E-mail and Sample Questions from Soldier Interviews
Glossary of Military Ranks