The Bang Bang Club Snapshots from a Hidden War

Greg Marinovich, Author, Joao Silva, Author, Joao Silva, Joint Author Basic Books $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-465-04412-2
Four white South African photographers (Marinovich, Silva, Kevin Carter and Greg Oosterbroek) decide to chronicle the years of violence--ostensibly ""black on black"" violence but actually apartheid-sanctioned violence aimed at destabilizing the ANC--that 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.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Paperback - 254 pages - 978-0-465-01978-6
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