The Cruel Radiance: Photography and Political Violence

University of Chicago Press
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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.
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About the author

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.
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Reviews

5.0
2 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
May 27, 2011
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Pages
344
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ISBN
9780226482521
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Language
English
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Genres
Language Arts & Disciplines / Journalism
Photography / Criticism
Photography / General
Photography / Photojournalism
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This content is DRM protected.
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Lynsey Addario
"A brutally real and unrelentingly raw memoir."--Kirkus (starred review)

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Lynsey Addario was just finding her way as a young photographer when September 11 changed the world. One of the few photojournalists with experience in Afghanistan, she gets the call to return and cover the American invasion. She makes a decision she would often find herself making—not to stay home, not to lead a quiet or predictable life, but to set out across the world, face the chaos of crisis, and make a name for herself.

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