Unembedded: Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq
by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, Kael Alford, Thorne Anderson, Rita Leistner, Foreword by Phillip Jones Griffiths, Introduction by Phillip Robertson
AVAILABILITY: Usually ships within 2-5 days
Publication Date: 2005
Publisher: Chelsea Green
Topics: Arts, Militarism, Social Movements
Description: Four award-winning photojournalists show the world truths-up close and personal - about the war and everyday life in Iraq. Working independently, they have run the risks and spent the time it takes to build rapport with Iraqi civilians and insurgents alike, and their lenses report with a depth and eloquence uncommon in the chaotic, fast-paced environment of war.
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, a rising star in Iraqi journalism, has gained extraordinary access behind the scenes of both Sunni and Shiite insurgency movements.
Kael Alford is one of a handful of freelance photographers who remained in Baghdad throughout the US-led bombing and invasion in March 2003.
Thorne Anderson worked in Iraq during the sanctions period before the 2003 invasion. He has returned several times since, and spent three days in the besieged shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf while the Mehdi militia battled with US forces. After Rita Leistner was abducted and robbed by Sunni Insurgents in May 2004, she returned to Iraq a fourth time in June.
The Pentagon's largely successful effort to "embed" the press with the troops has served to obscure much of the truth of the War in Iraq, a point that is vividly illustrated by this collection of photographs by four independent photojournalists, whose refusal to be embedded have allowed them to capture images of the war not commonly seen in mainstream journalism.
The color photographs contain images of war beyond heroic portrayals of Anglo-American soldiers, including battles from the perspectives of the resistance, civilians killed by American fire and their grieving relatives, and bombed out buildings. They also portray other aspects of life in Iraq under occupation, including middle class young women gathered at restaurant, the rituals of traditional Iraqi weddings, Shi'ites on pilgrimage, and the inside of an Iraqi mental asylum.
There is a foreword by Phillip Jones Griffiths, author of 'Vietnam Inc.' and an introduction by Phillip Robertson, a writer for Salon.com.
Review(s): "Four independent photojournalists (Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, Kael Alford, Thorne Anderson, and Rita Leistner) provide a view of the war in Iraq that major news media have not shown us--a view that the Iraqi people themselves see daily. It is a view of suffering and pain, as one expects. These photos are riveting, including one by Kael Alford of a dead eight-year-old girl, killed in a US bombing raid, being washed for burial. Her body seems not to have a mark on it. But one soon turns away from such photos. Even more riveting, I found, were photos that I could never have imagined.
For example, there is a photo by Kael Alford taken in Baghdad on April 12, 2003. It shows father and his sons posing for the camera, outside their home. The father sits, his three sons behind him. They are obviously well off. Each cradles a submachine gun, watching for looters.
Otherwise, it looks like a relaxed family photo. Rita Leistner has a series of four photos of a woman in psychiatric hospital doing her daily exercises. As she does her exercises she tells the photographer: 'I hate war, these many wars. But I do like life.
Sometimes one finds strength, like a drowning person.' There is also an incredibly beautiful portrait by Rita Leistner of the Iranian-Kurdish wife of a leader of the PKK Kurdish separatist group. In fact, many of these photographs are simply exquisitely beautiful photographs. The combination of such superb photography with such strong subject matter has produced a book that is literally unforgettable. This is a photographer's photography book, a work of great beauty and pain. It is a book that is likely to be remembered as one of the truly important books about the Iraq War. But it is also abook about the impact of war on civilians, a book that has entered into that timeless zone of great photography where one is seeing, finally, a kind of Platonic vision of the essence of war." - KLIATT
"All four of these photojournalists worked independently of one another and outside official U.S. military authorities in Iraq from 2003 to 2005. Three of them - Kael Alford, Thorne Anderson, and Rita Leister - first came to Iraq during or just before the current war; and Abdul-Ahad is a native Iraqi who has spent the majority of his life in Baghdad.
Taken together, their color photographs - captioned here with the date, location, and subject-evoke shock, disbelief, and possibly anger. No further words indeed prove necessary in elaboration of the graphic nature of the presentation. There are no military actions or official political scenes shown, only the suffering of individual Iraqis and the carnage of war for civilian men, women, and children. From city streets, hospitals, and homes, the huge cost in lives and continual fear of death is vividly portrayed. Included are short bios of the contributors, with each giving a brief statement on his or her work and a separately authored foreword and introduction, both helpful in establishing the 'unembedded' parameters of the book. Whether one opposes or supports the war in Iraq, this is recommended reading - or viewing - for the thought-provoking and wrenching photographs." - Library Journal