Frontlines

Overview

An unflinching portrait of modern conflict by renowned photographer Sean Smith

 
Working both independently and embedded with the U. S. and British militaries, Sean Smith has compiled a shocking and unique portrait of modern combat and its aftermath. These pictures take us right into the midst of contemporary war zones and offer a unique insight into the reality of life in the crossfire. Frontlines begins with violence on the streets of Bethlehem in 2000 as Palestinian ...

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Overview

An unflinching portrait of modern conflict by renowned photographer Sean Smith

 
Working both independently and embedded with the U. S. and British militaries, Sean Smith has compiled a shocking and unique portrait of modern combat and its aftermath. These pictures take us right into the midst of contemporary war zones and offer a unique insight into the reality of life in the crossfire. Frontlines begins with violence on the streets of Bethlehem in 2000 as Palestinian youths clash with Israeli soldiers. Smith catches fascinating glimpses of life in Afghanistan before the U. S.–led invasion as well as the faltering attempts of Afghan police and the U. S. military to maintain a fragile peace in the face of Taliban insurgency. He takes us into the utter devastation of Lebanon in the wake of Israel's brutal bombardment in 2006. And in Kiwanja in the Congo, thousands of refugees struggle on the edge of survival and civilian bodies litter the streets amid bitter clashes between the government and Tutsi renegades. But it is to Iraq, the most divisive of conflict of modern times, that Smith's work most often returns. He shows us a society nervously holding itself together under the shadow of U. S. assault in 2002. The images follow a crescendo of violence building through the Sunni uprisings of 2007 and the consequent surge as the U. S. army attempts to regain control over an increasingly desperate and violent rebellion. Smith's pictures are both a vivid contemporary document and a worthy contribution to the great tradition of war photography, laying bare the reality of modern conflict with a clarity that is impossible to ignore.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Award-winning British photographer Smith presents eight sets of photos from six conflicts, including three portfolios from the Iraq war (he was embedded with the Marines in 2005 and with the 101st Airborne Division in 2006). His book also includes two sections on Afghanistan and one each on Israel, Lebanon, and the Congo. Forgoing grand panoramic views of battles, Smith tends to favor low-lying perspectives of small groups of soldiers and civilians, the latter sometimes captive and being interrogated, even tortured or dead. He captures the senselessness of the carnage, such as a photo of a man American Marines shot dead in Iraq in 2007. The caption dryly informs us, “It seems that he was a taxi driver who had merely got lost in the area because of numerous road closures.” More than a few of these photos have a grisly, if compellingly immediate, quality, of which the most harrowing and indelible image is of the Congo, of chickens scavenging a corpse. Unfortunately, Smith provides only a sketchy and occasionally tendentious description of each conflict. Also frustrating are inadequate captions that leave the geography hazy. These flaws aside, Smith is a fine documenter of the violent and, often, the prosaic quality of early 21st-century regional conflict. (All conflicts but Lebanon are still being fought and the one in the Congo has a particularly huge toll of killing, maiming, and rape.) (Jan.)
From the Publisher

"Smith is a fine documenter of the violent and, often, the prosaic quality of early 21st-century regional conflict."—Publishers Weekly

"Smith's photographs capture both the beauty and beastliness of war."  —Anthropology Review Database

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780852652428
  • Publisher: Random House UK
  • Publication date: 8/29/2011
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 7.80 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Sean Smith has become internationally recognized for his unstinting images of conflict and war. Over the past two decades, he has chronicled some of the world's most intractable and controversial conflicts including Israel, Bosnia, Chechnya, the Congo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He received the Royal Television Society award for Best International News (Iraq) in 2008.

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