Nina Berman: Purple Hearts

Overview

A Purple Heart is the token honor given to soldiers for their wounds. It makes them heroes. It is the title that Nina Berman has given to her photographs of American soldiers gravely wounded in the Iraq war, who have returned home to face life away from the waving flags and heroic send-offs. The images are accompanied by first-person interviews with the soldiers, who discuss their lives, reasons for enlisting, and experience in Iraq. They provide a glimpse into the myths of warfare as glorious spectacle through ...
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Overview

A Purple Heart is the token honor given to soldiers for their wounds. It makes them heroes. It is the title that Nina Berman has given to her photographs of American soldiers gravely wounded in the Iraq war, who have returned home to face life away from the waving flags and heroic send-offs. The images are accompanied by first-person interviews with the soldiers, who discuss their lives, reasons for enlisting, and experience in Iraq. They provide a glimpse into the myths of warfare as glorious spectacle through the minds of young men desperate to believe in the righteousness of their actions.
One soldier explains that he always wanted to be a hero. He thought the military would be fun—he would jump out of planes. He never imagined it could be ugly until he saw Saving Private Ryan. He is now a cripple, doped up all day on pain medications, flat broke, with one kid and another on the way. Another soldier describes how he called a recruiting station after watching an MTV-style commercial for the Army on TV. An immigrant from Pakistan, he was given his citizenship following his injury. It's a fair trade in his mind: a leg for an American passport.
Berman's photographs are accompanied by essays from Verlyn Klinkenborg, a New York Times editorial page writer, and Tim Origer, a Vietnam veteran and former Marine who fought in the Tet offensive and returned at age 19, an amputee.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781904563341
  • Publisher: Trolley Books
  • Publication date: 8/31/2004
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 8.16 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2005

    The Physical, Psychological, Spiritual and Moral Scars of War

    Nina Berman is a fine journalist and photographer whose photographic art has been featured in Time, Newsweek, Fortune, New York Times Magazine, Harpers, Stern, and National Geographic magazines and in exhibitions. She has an unflinching eye for detecting the surface and the inner truth of her subjects. Nowhere is this more profoundly evident than in this brave monograph on those who have 'won' the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in the Iraqi War. Berman's technical facility results in photographs that, while harrowing to ponder, find the truth in her subjects. Each of the soldiers presented here bear the physical scars (some extreme) of the various modes of war's instruments from gunshot wounds to roadside and suicide bombers that haunt the desert locales of Iraq, and each of the soldier's bear the mental scars (all extreme) that have accompanied the combat and terror of a war nobody wants and everybody condemns. Her photographs are accompanied by interviews with her subjects, soldiers who may have gone to war with delusions of heroism, of doing the right thing, but who crumple under the post-traumatic stress syndrome with lives wasted by the insatiable hunger of war. Stepping away from the focal point, Berman has given space to other writers who increase the impact of this book: essays from Verlyn Klinkenborg, a New York Times editorial page writer, and Tim Origer, a Vietnam Marine veteran who fought in the Tet offensive and returned at age 19, an amputee. These essays make the book timeless and not simply reportage about the current Iraq mistake. With Veterans Day approaching, this book is a powerful indictment against all war without allowing the sacrifices of the veterans to go unnoted. Highly Recommended. Grady Harp

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