cover image Extremely Loud: Sound as a Weapon

Extremely Loud: Sound as a Weapon

Juliette Volcler, trans. from the French by Carol Volk. New Press (Perseus, dist.), $24.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-59558-873-9

Be it in the form of acoustic weapons capable of dispersing unruly crowds, as a means of intimidating or confusing enemy combatants, or to aid in interrogation, sound has increasingly been employed as a tool of subjugation and control in modern warfare. French journalist Volcler postulates that these developments “scramble the boundaries between war, culture, and games,” and, in a media-saturated environment, they have become palatable nonlethal methods of repression and aggression. Indeed, many of the world’s major powers, including the U.S., Germany, and the former Soviet Union, have sought to develop acoustic weapons. Despite mixed results, such work has led to the development of many technologies, such as the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), a sound cannon that was used in 2009 by the Pittsburgh, Pa., police against G20 protestors. More pernicious, however, was the U.S. military’s use of songs by AC/DC, Metallica, and other heavy metal bands to rattle enemies in the field of battle and as part of “enhanced interrogation” techniques during the war in Iraq. Thorough and well researched, this is a timely glimpse into the development of these revolutionary technologies and approaches. (June)