Baghdad Journal: An Artist in Occupied Iraq Hardcover – Sep 1 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. With countless war accounts already in from Iraq, it's refreshing to get this dispatch told, from the perspective not of a journalist or a photographer, but of an artist. Mumford, a New York City painter, first arrived in Baghdad in April of 2003 and spent about a year there, and in other cities, accompanying U.S. troops on patrols, raids and combat missions. But the most arresting images in this illustrated journal come from his more mundane interactions: with people in cafés, at a meeting with a local imam, at a galley favored by local Baghdad artists. Mumford writes that, for him, "the act of drawing slowed down the war, recording the spaces in between the bombs," and it is through these spaces, the day-to-day of life in a country where life runs minute-to-minute, that Iraq and its war become illuminated in a way that we rarely see. At first glance Mumford's watercolors carry something of the hasty urgency of courtroom art, but this impression is soon belied by the images' depth of feeling and nuance. Accompanying the watercolors are passages from his journal, written in a lucid and reflective style that perfectly matches these quiet spaces pushing out at the surrounding chaos. His is a remarkable document.
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"Some of the most compelling commentary on Iraq has come from New York painter Steve Mumford." -- New York Times
"[Mumford] helps us see a difficult war from yet another perspective." -- Peter Jennings, ABC World News Tonight
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This is a compelling, unique and personal view of war torn Iraq. After the TV cameras are shut off and the photogs have gone we see a very different view......thanks to Mumford.
His artwork has a great range as does his subject matter.
"Unusual." On page 157, Steve Mumford uses this word to describe getting ready for a firefight. And his use of this word, the naturalness of it, and the fact that by page 157 the reader fully believes it, is what makes Steve Mumford's Baghdad Journal such an interesting book. For what Mumford gives us is an entirely different outlook on occupied Iraq than we in America get from the majority of the American media-- one of day-to-day life that is full of conflict, but is mostly civilians and the American armed forces going about their everyday lives, dealing with the quotidian worries that one might expect in a country trying to rebuild after a devastating conflict. And the key term in that sentence is "after."
Baghdad Journal is exactly what it purports to be-- it's a guy with a press pass, a pad, and some colors wandering around and describing what he sees. Mumford is an engaging writer, though his prose often tends toward the journalistic (a charge I have often wished I could level at most of the reporters over there); this is more than made up for by the drawings, which present a world unlike that we've been given to believe exists in Iraq at present.
A good book, and an important one. Worth your time. *** ½
I am haunted by this book and greatful to the Artist.
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