The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence by Susie Linfield
In The Cruel Radiance, Susie Linfield challenges the idea that photographs of political violence exploit their subjects and pander to the voyeuristic tendencies of their viewers. Instead she argues passionately that looking at such images—and learning to see the people in them—is an ethically and politically necessary act that connects us to our modern history of violence and probes the human capacity for cruelty. Grappling with critics from Walter Benjamin and Bertolt Brecht to Susan Sontag and the postmoderns—and analyzing photographs from such events as the Holocaust, China’s Cultural Revolution, and recent terrorist acts—Linfield explores the complex connection between photojournalism and the rise of human rights ideals. In the book’s concluding section, she examines the indispensable work of Robert Capa, James Nachtwey, and Gilles Peress and asks how photography should respond to the increasingly nihilistic trajectory of modern warfare. A bracing and unsettling book, The Cruel Radiance convincingly demonstrates that if we hope to alleviate political violence, we must first truly understand it—and to do that, we must begin to look.
Susie Linfield has been an editor for American Film, the Village Voice, and the WashingtonPost and has written for a wide range of publications including the Los AngelesTimes Book Review,the New York Times, Bookforum, the Village Voice, Aperture, Dissent, and the Nation. She is associate professor of journalism at New York University, where she directs the Cultural Reporting and Criticism program.
The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence 2 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
The writing and thoughtful examination of the world of photojournalism is excellent. The author has done a wonderful job.
My disappointment is with the publishing decision to not include any of the photographs that accompany the text in the Nook version, instead telling readers to view the print edition. The Nook is perfectly capable of rendering excellent quality images.
A photography book with no photography. A poor decision.