Failed States is an exploration of coincidence and poetics amid the barriers and bureaucracy of governmental power. While on a trip to research the history of snipers in Austin, Texas, artist Jill Magid witnesses a mysterious shooting on the steps of the State Capitol. Twenty-four year old Fausto Cardenas fires several rounds in the air before being arrested. The event becomes the background against which Magid, under the guidance of CT—editor at the Texas Observer and former embedded war correspondent for AP—starts her training to become an embedded journalist with the U.S. military in Afghanistan.
Magid's non-fiction novel Failed States approaches the themes of transparency, secrecy and publicity through her personal desire to engage the war on terror and its media representation through becoming an eyewitness.