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Bedrooms of the Fallen Hardcover – June 27, 2014

4.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The need to see America's twenty-first-century war dead, and to make them seen--to give their absence presence--has consumed Ashley Gilbertson for much of the past decade. Like it or not, these wars really are ours--they implicate us--and when our military men and women die in far off lands, they do so in our name. Gilbertson wanted to depict what it means that they are gone. Photographs of the fallen, or of their coffins or their graves, don't tell us that. But the places they came from and were supposed to go back to--the places they left empty--do tell us."
(Philip Gourevitch)

“Equal parts haunting and hopeful, Gilbertson peers into the sacred spaces of fallen US soldiers to reveal the things they left behind.”


(Time LightBox)

About the Author

Ashley Gilbertson’s photographs have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Stern and other publications. His work is included in collections of major museums throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia. Among numerous honors, Gilbertson won the prestigious Robert Capa Gold Medal for his photographs of the battle of Fallujah and in 2012 was awarded a National Magazine Award for the New York TimesMagazine feature of The Bedrooms of the Fallen project.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 120 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1st edition (June 27, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 022606686X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226066868
  • Product Dimensions: 12 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #792,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nathan Webster TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This quiet book of post-conflict photography will be a solid complement to any collection of war literature or conflict images, and will be a pointed reminder of what's left over after the war stories fall out of the public eye.

Represented are 40 bedrooms of Iraq and Afghanistan soldiers and veterans, most who died in action, a few by suicide in the postwar years. It is accompanied by Gilbertson's essay "Absences," which explains his goal and also offers answers to those who might view these images as exploitative. As each bedroom shows, the death of a soldier does not remove him or her from history - and these bedrooms-memorials offer a more personal reminder than the "soulless military headshot" that Gilbertson writes typically accompanies the impersonal newspaper stories.

I would argue that far more exploitative are the more conventional 'combat' images that present a soldier at the most stressful moments - while the viewer can simply experience the 'excitement' with vicarious awe. In these bedroom images, the soldier is absent - and the viewer is entirely responsible for their own emotions.

The 40 images seem repetitive - at first. But with each closer look, the defining details of each image begin to stand out. Many of them have US flags, but how they are displayed gives a window into that family's memories. Stuffed animals are incongruous in the often masculine rooms. While the rooms seem unchanged, ready for their occupant to return, most have been clearly updated by the parents.

A major flaw is the absence of any Iraqi or Afghan soldiers. Adding this dimension to the project would have been difficult at best, probably impossible, but it's still a missing link.
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Format: Hardcover
Some photo books are in your face and powerful, while some are quiet and reflective. This falls into the second category encouraging reflection on the very personal nature of loss after a decade of war.

I had the pleasure of meeting the photographer at a book opening and was struck by his candor, joviality, sincerity and not the least his commitment to innovative story telling.

While this would not be the first book i would buy to start a photojournalism collection, there are many classic greats that represent the dominate "closer is better" style of photojournalism, this very well could be my second. Its revisiting what story is important to share, its sincerity to the soberness of the topic, and its compelling execution make it a must have for anyone serious in visual storytelling in todays media culture.

This is a story "anyone" could have had access execute, yet only one person did. He deserves credit for finding and following through on what can only be imagined was a very emotional and complicated project.

Selfishly, we get to benefit from his work by seeing some great images of a world that otherwise would have been lost in time.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An incredibly sad subject-matter, handled with great respect and sensitivity. The photos are carefully considered and heart-wrenching, naturally, but demand the reader's close attention. Ashley Gilbertson's text is incredibly moving and informative. I doubt that any book has humanised the seemingly senseless loss of young people's lives in such a manner. It moved me greatly; I not only share the grief of the parents, family and friends of the fallen featured in this book of tribute, but everyone affected by the loss of the many thousands of those who died in conflict or as a consequence of it. Will we ever learn? I hope so. Books like this pave the way.
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Format: Hardcover
A beautiful, sad, and poignant book. Ashley Gilbertson has photographed a piece of war and its aftermath that is both terrible and somber in its message, yet so wonderfully and gently photographed that words could never have equalled the power of his images. He is to be congratulated both for his determination to get at a story so many have missed, and for adding to his already powerful oeuvre. A great book by a great photographer.
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A great book and very moving. Ashley did a wonderful job.
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Format: Hardcover
As the mom of SSG Travis Kent Hunsberger, KIA 06.27.08, one of the soldiers Ashley honored in his book, I have been so moved by this beautiful tribute. I believe it represents the sacrifice of so many in the history of our great nation. We miss our son every single day, and every time his name is spoken and he is remembered for his sacrifice it heals a tiny piece of the hole his absence here on earth leaves in so many lives. I think other Gold Star parents must feel the same. There is a reason we get to enjoy our freedom. During our meeting with Ashley to discuss the possibility of adding Trav, it was obvious he took this very seriously, wanting to know more about our son and his life. He treated us with the utmost respect. Thank you Ashley. When I hold the book I do it in reverence, not just for Trav, but for all the great sacrifices of so many. Again, a beautiful tribute.
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