A gripping story of four remarkable young men-photographers, friends and rivals-who band together for protection in the final, violent days of white rule in South Africa.
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.
The book describes the experiences of four well-known South African press photographers, at the peak of the political transition period of the country. Of the four, only two survived. Most South Africans as well as international readers interested in photojournalism, will remember the killing of Ken Oosterbroek by a stray bullet while covering an unrest situation in the townships. And the whole world was shocked by the brilliant photograph of a starving Sudanese child with a vulture patiently waiting in the background. Kevin Carter committed suicide not long after winning a Pulitzer Prize for that image. Although the book deals mainly with their work experiences, it also provides insight in the personal lives of photojournalists. It focuses mainly on events in South Africa, especially during those eventful years in the early nineties. However, there are also references to other African countries. A few months before I read this book, I also read Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa by Keith Richburg. This was another excellent and very honest book by a black American journalist who was assigned to the African Desk of the Washington Post. The combination of these two books gives an excellent perspective on the Dark Continent and scares the hell out of you.
I can strongly recommend both these books. It is a must-read for anyone interested in photojournalism and for people interested in the political transition period of SA. People who enjoy biographies will also appreciate the book.