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Pictures of combat and the men who fight in them have been taken as long as the camera has been invented and war was waged. Many times, you get enlightened photos and bland descriptions. Not so with INFIDEL. This is the most honest photo book of soldiers on the shelf today. I own quite a few combat photo books. None of them grabbed me like this one.
Mr. Hetherington's photos capture exactly what he says he wanted to capture: men as they truly are when they're stuck on remote outpost and no one but each other to count on-for everything. The photos capture almost every single emotion a soldier could feel.
You will get honest shots of honest men who spent 15 months in hell. In fact, so honest that you almost feel like you're standing beside the photojournalist. They are stunning, gut wrenching and without doubt, a beautiful tribute to the subjects he captured.
Be sure to read every word from the Introduction to the last page. No words are wasted in this book. The icing on the this terrific cake is the commentary in back about the photographs. I just wish it was a bigger book!
Hetherington's book provides a never before seen look into the life of a platoon during a deployment to the mountains of Afghanistan. It follows 2nd platoon of Battle Company, 2/503rd, 173rd airborne on their 2007 to 2008 deployment to the Korengal Valley of eastern Afghanistan. This is the same unit as followed in Sebastian Junger's "War", as well as the documentary "Restrepo", which both Junger and Hetherington directed. This book is mostly a photo collection of several series' Hetherington made while out with second platoon, including pictures of tattoo's the men got while out in Afghanistan, the men sleeping (which shows an interesting and rarely seen soft and vulnerable side of these men), as well as the men fighting. It stays away from the typical military style book, where it actually doesn't focus on only the fighting, but instead the whole spectrum of what goes on during a deployment: the boredom, the lifestyle, the good, the bad, and the ugly. And to top it off, at the end, he has AMAZING interviews of sorts from different men from the platoon talking about everything imaginable, including what they think fear is, how they cope with what they have seen and done, and what its like living with the same 40 people for 15 months. In the end, this book provides the reader with an interesting view of what its like to be a soldier on the front lines, and it is well worth anyones time.
Hetheringon was a seasoned War photojournalist before he embedded with Battle Co. in the Korengal Valley in the high Hindu Kush Mts, of north eastern Afghanistan, called "The Most Dangerous Place on Earth." He spent a total of 5 harrowing months with the platoon during their brutal 15-month deployment in the Korengal, also known as 'the Valley of Death" And Battle CO. was 'the point of the spear', a handful of soldiers on a spit of mountain top - a 2 hour hike up the mountains and the only thing between the Taliban and the rest of the fire bases: no electricity, no running water, no hot food - the only thing they had a lot of was firefights. They experienced 20% of all the fighting in Afghanistan... Tim's inner eye captures every aspect of young warriors in the hell of war from the midst of battle to the utter exhaustion to the deep comaraderie to the levity to the shattering loss of 'brothers' to the innocent faces of the sleeping 'boys."
There's a reason he won, beating out over 80,000 entries, the World Press Photo of the Year 2007 - with a photo he took of one of Battle Co.s soldiers following a long siege. He is a consumate photojouranlist. The old saw, "one photo is worth a thousand words" certainly hold true for this book, full of unstaged, as is happens, photos of men in war...our men.
If you want to get a raw, unvarnished look at what war is for warriors in conflict and what these men accomplished and endured in the wilderness of the Afghan mountains, where the terrain can be as deadly as the Taliban - get "INFIDEL". It belongs, for all time, on everyone's book shelf - or coffee table...or both.Read more ›
This book is best bought and read as a companion piece to Sebastian Junger's "War," as it features close-up personal images of many of those soldiers, as well as a few narratives by those men. I've embedded as a freelance photojournalist in Iraq, and photos like these I've tried to capture myself.
These images are uncommon and not often seen in newspapers, etc. Usually, newspapers can't focus on individual soldiers since they're trying to tell a larger story, but Hetherington has the space to present them here. I think readers will appreciate how soldiers look at war - when they aren't hidden under 50 pounds of gear, helmets and sunglasses. Here you can see the men as they look in 'real' life.
By itself, I think this book might be seen as somewhat narrow. A reader might skim through it, appreciate it, but because it's mostly visual, there's nowhere else to go with it. But in combination with "Restrepo," which Hetherington co-directed, and the book "War," I think a reader will see the full picture - through these still images, written words, and film.
Of course, this work now stands as a memorial to Hetherington, who never appears in any of the images himself. Killed in Libya, this will be his last book. He risked his life to get these photos, in a dangerous place that he certainly didn't have to go.
When I bought the book, I skimmed it, said to myself 'wow, good job,' then put it on a shelf and forgot about it until today. I think new and future readers will appreciate the images even more, because now they'll know what it sometimes costs to accomplish work like this - both by the men in front of the camera, and Hetherington behind it.
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