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Most people, upon hearing gunfire, would run away and hide. Conflict photojournalists have the opposite reaction: they actually look for trouble, and when they find it, get as close as possible and stand up to get the best shot. This thirst for the shot and the seeming nonchalance to the risks entailed earned Greg Marinovich, Joao Silva, Ken Oosterbroek, and Kevin Carter the moniker of the Bang-Bang Club. Oosterbroek was killed in township violence just days before South Africa's historic panracial elections. Carter, whose picture of a Sudanese child apparently being stalked by a vulture won him a Pulitzer Prize, killed himself shortly afterwards. Another of their posse, Gary Bernard, who had held Oosterbroek as he died, also committed suicide.
The Bang-Bang Club is a memoir of a time of rivalry, comradeship, machismo, and exhilaration experienced by a band of young South African photographers as they documented their country's transition to democracy. We forget too easily the political and ethnic violence that wracked South Africa as apartheid died a slow, spasmodic death. Supporters of the ANC and Inkatha fought bloody battles every day. The white security forces were complicit in fomenting and enabling some of the worst violence. All the while, the Bang-Bang Club took pictures. And while they did, they were faced with the moral dilemma of how far they should go in pursuit of an image, and whether there was a point at which they should stop their shooting and try to intervene.
This is a riveting and appalling book. It is simply written--these guys are photographers, not writers--but extremely engaging. They were adrenaline junkies who partied hard and prized the shot above all else. None of them was a hero; these men come across as overweeningly ambitious, egotistical, reckless, and selfish, though also brave and even principled. As South Africans, they were all invested in their country's future, even though, as whites, they were strangers in their own land as they covered the Hostel wars in the black townships. The mixture of the romantic appeal of the war correspondent with honest assessments of their personal failings is part of what makes this account so compelling and so singular among books of its ilk. --J. Riches --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Four white South African photographers (Marinovich, Silva, Kevin Carter and Greg Oosterbroek) decide to chronicle the years of violenceAostensibly "black on black" violence but actually apartheid-sanctioned violence aimed at destabilizing the ANCAthat marked the time from Nelson Mandela's release from prison to the first nonracial elections in their land. Before those years passed, two of them would be dead (one by his own hand), and their lives would be forever changed (" 'I was appalled at what they were doing. I was appalled at what I was doing' "). Heard and seen almost entirely through the voice and eyes of Marinovich, this memoir is about, in the words of Archbishop Tutu, the "remarkably cool, no, even cold-blooded" photographers who negotiated a war zone for journalistic gain and not the war itself. Although compelling, their story suffers from a lack of hard-core introspection. Even if the reader can understand the photographers' almost aloof response to the violence and death around them as they seek out bloodbaths and bodies, their manifest coldness (evidenced by both their words and their photographs) remains undeniably disturbing. For example, in one telling scene, after taking pictures of a young man who was killed and burned, Silva takes his friends to see the scene. While they look at the still-smoldering body, a woman comes out from a house nearby and throws a blanket over the body and looks at them in disgust. And when Marinovich and Oosterbroek are injured in a shoot-out, Oosterbroek fatally, their description of the events only accentuates their dispassionate point of view ("the ethic of getting the picture first, then dealing with the rest later"). B&w photos. Radio satellite tour. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Much more than simply a book about photojournalists, The Bang Bang Club tells a haunting tale about several young men growing up in a rapidly changing and often hostile world. Read morePublished on Aug. 30 2001 by Michael Casey
I can't even imagine how hard it was for these guys to write this book. Not only did they lose two of their best friends during the period covered by the book, not only did they... Read morePublished on Sept. 26 2000