From Publishers Weekly
Cohen, creator of the photojournalism book America 24/7
, edits this socially conscious collection of haunting photographs and disappointing essays that focus on the unchecked ravages of genocide, global warming, AIDS, child labor, extreme poverty and compulsive consumerism. While the pictures—especially the chilling Images of Genocide and Stephanie Seymour's portraits of child brides—disquiet with their beauty and horror, the accompanying text from such luminaries as Jeffrey Sachs and Bill McKibben is unfortunately hollow and anodyne, particularly Cohen's introduction (do something... even something small... to help repair the world), but Omer Bartov's statement that Iconic photographs both record the deeds and potentially anesthetize us to them provides a powerful caveat for this collection. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Hard to see, impossible to turn away - Issues and images combine in 'What Matters,' a powerful and passionate new book
"Great documentary photojournalism, squeezed out of mainstream newspapers and magazines in an age of shrinking column inches, has had a hard time gaining traction in other venues... But nobody has told the 18 photographers in What Matters: The World's Preeminent Photojournalists and Thinkers Depict Essential Issues of Our Time. These are photo essays by some of today's best photojournalists following the great tradition begun over a hundred years ago with the exposés of New York tenement life by Jacob Riis. Through the doggedness of these photographerswho are clearly committed to stirring us out of complacencyall the power and passion of the medium is evident in this book... Some of the pieces will break your heart, some will anger you. All will make you think. To channel your thoughts and feelings into action, the book ends with an appendix "What You Can Do," offering hundreds of ways to be a part of the solution to these problems."
- Chicago Tribune Book Review, http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/booksmags/chi-david-elliot-cohen-06sep06,0,5288041.story
- San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/09/17/DDGB12K49R.DTL
Photographs that Can Change the World
"David Elliot Cohen’s new book, What Matters, which hits bookshelves today, is a collection of photo essays that explore 18 distinct social issues that define our time. Shot by the world’s most renowned photojournalists, including James Nachtwey, who has contributed to V.F., the photographs explore topics ranging from genocide and global warming to oil addiction and consumerism, offering a raw view into the problems that plague our world. Each photo essay is accompanied by written commentary from an expert on the issue. Cohen hopes the book will inspire people to work toward resolving these problems. Great photojournalism changed the world in the past, and it can do it again,” Cohen says. I want people to see these images, get angry, and act on that anger. Compelling images by the world’s best photojournalists is the most persuasive language I have to achieve this.”
- vanityfair.com, http://www.vanityfair.com/online/politics/2008/09/what-matters.html
"Changing the world might sound like a lofty goal for a photo book, but that’s what the new book, What Matters, The World’s Preeminent Photojournalists and Thinkers Depict Essential Issues of our Time edited by David Elliot Cohen (Sterling Publishing, $28, 2008), hopes to do. Citing the power of socially conscious photographers over the last 150 years, the beautiful collection of 18 photo-essays by some of today’s prominent photojournalists hopes to inform pre-election debate and inspire direct action." Regardless of what side of the political fence you sit on, this collection of heartbreaking and powerful stories and images is guaranteed to get you thinking."
- Popular Photography, http://flash.popphoto.com/blog/2008/08/book-review-wha.html
Those doubting the power of photojournalism to sway opinion and encourage action would do well to spend some time with this book. In 18 stories, each made up of photos by leading photojournalists and elucidated by short essays by public intellectuals and journalists, this book explores environmental devastation, war, disease, and the ravages of both poverty and great wealth. The photos are specific and personal in their subject matter and demonstrate how great photography can illuminate the universal by depicting the specific. Cohen has a goal beyond simply showcasing terrific photography. In his thoughtful introduction, he makes explicit his aim to connect the work compiled here with the great tradition of muckraking photography that helped to change conditions in New York tenements and to end child labor at the turn of the last century. A terrific concluding chapter directs readers to specific actions they can take if they are moved to do so by the book's images, and it's hard to imagine the reader who would not be moved. Highly recommended for public libraries and academic libraries supporting journalism and/or photography curricula. (a starred review in Library Journal generally means the book will be acquired by many libraries.)
- Library Journal, http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6598644.html
Powerful photos, insightful commentary fill the compelling 'What Matters.'
What Matters is about big questions and big problems that beg for big solutions.
- Florida Times Union (Jacksonville), http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stories/092808/lif_337282446.shtml