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books to recommend

since i’m always looking for something to read, especially before going on a trip, i thought it might be a good idea to start a thread and have people post books that they’d like to let others know about….right now i’m just finishing up guns germs and steel by jared diamond.  it’s of a large scope and covers a lot of ground but if you’re interested in understanding how the world is shaped now as based on it’s geography and history then it’s a good place to start.  for more: http://www.wwnorton.com/catalog/spring99/gunsgerms.htm

by [a former member] at 2005-07-26 08:47:50 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) rome , Italy | Bookmark | | Report spam→

dang, Jake. did you actually finish that book? I’ve lugged it to like 4 continents over the past 5 years, and I still haven’t made it past the second chapter.

anyway, if anyone out there comes across any of these books, all out of print as far as I know, please grab them for me —

The Aristos , John Fowles
War and Anti-War, Alvin Toffler
the Shy Photographer, Jock Carrol

by teru kuwayama | 26 Jul 2005 09:07 | brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
Along with being a photojournalist, I happen to be a book freak. A good short paperback is Witness Of Our Time edited by Ken Light on Amazon for 14 bucks. It’s divided into short sections so it’s great for travel. It contains brief histories of photogs and then things the photog’s wrote themselves. It gives great insight into how the real veteran’s did their job. And some of the stories are extremely inspiring. Another book I read which is probably a little less well known is called How I Learned Not To Be A Photojournalist by Dianne Hagaman. You can find it on Amazon for 18 bucks or so. The pictures leave something to be desired, but the lady who wrote it describes how each photo project is unique and how each one calls for a different style of photography.
As for non-photo books, I recently read Lost Rights by James Bovard, which is a massive book with a rather liberatarian slant, but it completely blew my mind to read about the American Govt. in this light. I would also recommend Peace Kills by O’Roeke, a journalist who covered Israel and Iraq in his many world travels. And finally for those people who are scientifically-inclined, may I recommend Demonic Males by Peterson and Wrangham, which is an anthopological view of the origin of intra-species violence. This book also changed my world view.

by Cameron Knight | 26 Jul 2005 21:07 (ed. Jul 26 2005) | Cincinnati, Ohio, United States | | Report spam→
Im currently chugging my way through Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle of 3 books – Quicksilver, The Confusion and the System Of The World. Each one is thick as a phone book, but it’s a fascinating ride.

The books chart the birth of science and the monetary system in the 16th Century, through an interwoven series of characters and plots encompassing the Great Fire of London, the white slave trade, Issac Newton’s experiments in calculus (which along with his German contemporary Liebniz, formed the conceptual framework behind computer science), Benjamin Franklin and King Louis XIV.

Oh yeah, it’s actually a science fiction novel so there’s this immortal guy who keeps cropping up as well…

It’s hard to pin down which genre the books actually are – they appear to be in their own category – but If you liked ‘The Name of the Rose’ by Umberto Eco, this book will probably appeal.

There is also another Stephenson novel called Cryptonomicon which actually links into these three books, and so maybe the best place to start.

It’s a great page turner about the birth of the Internet, cryptography, the WW2 Enigma Code and the US war in the Pacific, and cuts between these and a story about computer hackers in the present day.

I found it a bit geeky, but if you’re into computers it’s fascinating…and the immortal guy crops up again.

by [former member] | 27 Jul 2005 15:07 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Camera or book, camera or book, camera or book ;))….a formidable question, the answer to which is that I hope that I can (and should be able to ) live without…but I know I cannot ;))))……however, as both a writer and photographer, books have been the constellations around which my life has navigated…o,  language (our innate prayers), the reckoning that best distinquishes us, most likely……as Coetze wrote, "Teeth are for tearing, the tongue is for churning the swill around: that is the truth of the oral. Only by an ingenious economy, an accident of evolution, does the organ of ingestion sometimes get to be used for song.”…

so, okay then, some books…I cannot imagine where to begin, but okay, here’s a brief list of recommendations to begin: let’s say Im thinking about books for y’all  as photographers…ones which might feed you while away on assignment:

In no particular order of importance (aint Letterman):

1. Bruce Chatwin’s "Songlines": the most wise/truthful book I know about "traveling": anyone who travels (especially  you, photojournalists, who seek to "report"), should have this book tatooed to your skin ;)) (it is to mine)

2. Heraclitus, "Fragments" There is a great new translation: heart-breaking….

3. Orphan Pamuk (Turkey’s deleriously great contemporary novelist): a) Snow (if interested in conflict between Islam and Europe), b) My Name is Red (my favorite of his),  or c) his new book on Istanbul

4. Julio Cortazar, "Hopscotch"

5. Anne Michaels, "Fugitive Pieces"

6. Jim Crace "Being Dead"

7.  Coetze, "Disgrace"

8. Grass, "Tin Drum"

9. Any Collection of Poems by Any poet: you’ll make them bloody happy! :))

10. TAHAR BEN JELLOUN, This Blinding Absence of Light

the rest of the pack: anything by Haroki Murakami, Claude Simon, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Amos Oz new autobiography, David Grossman ("Yellow Wind,", See Under: Love, Intimate Book of Grammar), Roy’s "God of Small Things" , Bernard Lewis, "Middle East", …..

lastly, the book that stays with me every place I’ve been.."Ulysses"…’ll take a lifetime ;))…cheers, bob 

by [former member] | 27 Jul 2005 16:07 | Toronto, by way of the States, Canada | | Report spam→
re-reading Kapuscinski’s “The Soccer War” at the moment…as always, i can’t help but conjure in my mind the image of him as a grey-suited Communist wraith with a thin tie, sunglasses, and Polish passport gliding through the war zones of the 1960s…the kind of guy you would be sure was some kind of spook…and yet, that whole time he was writing his brillant stuff.

Ha Jin’s “War Trash” i wrote about in another post.

other recent favorites (that I read in Baghdad):

“History: A Novel” by Elsa Morante, one of the very best novels of the Second World War.

“One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey, sixties classic on life in the loony bin

“Survival In Auschwitz” by Primo Levi, amazingly not depressing. i actually was dreading this, having read “The Re-Awakening” first, and therefore out of order, but I finally read it and enjoyed it immensely.

i discovered a great website called www.gutenberg.org, this has the full text of thousands of books that you can download, mostly 19th and early 20th century works for which the copyright has expired. i read a guide to california grizzly bears from 1903, a travel guide to central europe published 1913 (right at the end!) and “The Castle Of Otranto” by Horace Walpole, the classic 18th century Gothic novel.


by [former member] | 27 Jul 2005 18:07 | New York, United States | | Report spam→
Alan:…Morante’s History: A novel is also my favorite book about WWII and not well enough known….(ironically, i think its better than any novel by Moravia (her better known husband)… ;)) )…bb

by [former member] | 27 Jul 2005 18:07 | Toronto, by way of the States, Canada | | Report spam→
Well, okay, I am a booknut too, but haven’t been able to read anything completely after reading Norman Mailer’s brilliant, beautiful, bastardly WW II novel The Naked and the Dead – even my favourite brooding Russian novelists can’t match Norman. I also was at a loss of what to read when I read James Jones’ From Here To Eternity and The Thin Red Line. Another book reaching the same heft is Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet – but only read it when you’re home – it’s all about lonely lovers, yikes!

But these are some great lists, I’ll have to check the bookstore and try to fill my Norman Mailer void.


Oh, I also enjoyed David Shipler’s “Russia”, written during his time in Brezhnev-era USSR.

by [former member] | 27 Jul 2005 20:07 | Toronto, Canada | | Report spam→
love(d) Alexandria Quartet…but not didnt hold as much weight for me when i re-read it years later (is it simply that Ive found my own Justine and become my own Mountbatten ;) )…bb

by [former member] | 28 Jul 2005 05:07 | Toronto, by way of the States, Canada | | Report spam→
Anything at all by Salman Rushdie

also (not so light) Bernard Henry Levy.

by Kenneth Dickerman | 28 Jul 2005 09:07 (ed. Jul 28 2005) | Chicago, United States | | Report spam→
A few recent reads:

Susan Sontag- Regarding the Pain of Others and On Photography are essential books that reward multiple reads.
Scott Anderson- ‘Triage’ is an entertaining enough novel about a war photographer and his mental rehabilitation from wartime traumas
Ryszard Kapuscinski- ‘Another Day of Life’- short, brilliant travelogue (in typical Kapuscinski style) of last days of Angola before independence
Aidan Hartley- The Zanzibar Chest- Eloquently written recount of East African horrors in the 90’s by a Reuters journalist.

Hey Alan, hung out with Meghann Curtis in Jo’burg these last few weeks and she mentioned you fondly. Look forward to crossing paths at some point..

by [former member] | 28 Jul 2005 10:07 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Colum McCann’s Songdogs about an Irish photographer travelling in Mexico in the 50’s. A stunning read. Beautifully evocative.

by Paul Treacy | 28 Jul 2005 13:07 | New York City, United States | | Report spam→
IN HARM’S WAY  Reflections of a war-zone thug by Martin Bell( BBC Foreign correspondent) former…
A good read mostly about his time in Bosnia…

by [former member] | 28 Jul 2005 14:07 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
The Bang Bang club   Snapshots from a hidden war.

by Joao Silva.

A bed for the Night

by David Rieff

by [former member] | 29 Jul 2005 10:07 (ed. Jul 29 2005) | UK, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
M by John Sack

The Spell of the Yukon by Robert W. Service

by Thomas Michael Corcoran | 29 Jul 2005 10:07 | Washington DC, United States | | Report spam→
My War Gone By I Miss It So, by Anthony Lloyd is one of my favorites.

by Andy McMillan | 29 Jul 2005 14:07 | Charlotte, NC, United States | | Report spam→
i saw that Bob mentioned songlines  favorite book for travellers it used to be for me   -If you are ever travelling through Alice Springs I  discovered that it is best to keep any positive thoughts about that book and Mr Chatwin to yourself-Not very popular with the locals for some reason,and annother good example of the ruination of a great book by to much inquiry post reading.

"Life and Fate" by Vassily Grossman,Red Army reporter at Stalingrad ,one of the first to report on the Death Camps in eastern Europe.

"An Intimate history of humanity"-By Theodore Zedlin A philosophy book relating to common human thought patterns and fears,makes you feel either small and insignificant or frees your mind of a lot of unneccesary baggage….Its all Biological.

"On The Psychology of Military Incompetence" By Norman Dixon….Need I say More?

by Glenn Campbell | 30 Jul 2005 01:07 | Darwin, Australia | | Report spam→
There are two books I read recently that are excellent:

- "I, Fatty" by Jerry Stahl is a fictional first-person account of Fatty Arbuckle, Hollywood’s first actor to make a million dollars a year. He was also the first to be involved in a highly public scandal, when he was framed for the rape and murder of a young woman. Even though he was eventually aquitted, his career never recovered. The book is fascinating and beautifully written.

- "Def Jam, Inc." by Stacy Gueraseva is the story of Def Jam Records- the first major hip-hop label in the world that became a worldwide phenomenon. It was started by a Jewish guy from Long Island- Rick Rubin and a black guy from Queens- Russell Simmons. The label was behind such acts as Beastie Boys, LL Cool J and Jay-Z, who recently became president of the label. It is a real page turner. If you’re into music and popular culture, this book is a must-read.

by Julie Gueraseva | 30 Jul 2005 02:07 (ed. Jul 30 2005) | Brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
Many of my favorites have already been mentioned -  Chatwin’s "Songlines" and Kapuscinki’s "Soccer War" are mandatory reading.

I’d also recommend anything by Ted Conover. The guy really gets in a topic and lives it – then writes a 1st-person account of it: riding the rails as a hobo, crossing the border illegally with Mexicans looking for work, hobnobbing with the rich and famous as a taxi driver in Aspen, and a look inside the modern prison complex as a prison guard in Sing-Sing.

Daniel Duane’s "Caught Inside," a modern day Thoreau – who surfs.

I think this was mentioned on another thread: Aidan Hartley’s "Zanzibar Chest" – great read.

Photography related books:

"On Being a Photographer" – David Hurn, conversation about, well, being a photographer.
"The Photographic Essay" – William Albert Allard, a classic!
"Return to Mexico" – Abbas. great photos and a very interesting journal in the back.

I’m sure I’ll think of more later…

by [former member] | 30 Jul 2005 16:07 | Sacramento, United States | | Report spam→
just came across this on the npr website and thought it was well spoken so i’m posting it below, also the link where there are some of his pictures.  luce addresses the superficality of so much that’s covered and therefor people’s understanding of it.  if only fox at 10 would give him a job…..


‘Tha Bloc’: Portrait of a Baltimore Community

Weekend Edition – Saturday, August 6, 2005 · Scott Simon talks with t.p. Luce, author of Tha Bloc. Luce is a resident of East Baltimore who set out to create a portrait of his neighborhood using his photos, poetry and stories — with a recipe and a prayer thrown in for good measure.

Excerpt: Guppies

I read a story the other day about two people lying in their own blood dying, then dead, then outlined by that white chalk. Killed over something stupid they said. Shot down when an argument over basketball players boiled over into gunfire and death. As the event hangs and the media and the talkers begin to feed on our collective social blind spot, it is amazing how often they, (we), miss what is really going on and how much they, (we), depend on that blind spot. The shooting was not about an argument over basketball players, it was about breaking. It was about breaking. It was about someone who is sitting, standing underneath 10 tons of straw pressing him so tight that each breath drawn is indistinguishable from a razor. So much so that he walks around teetering, about to snap, straight up and down on the outside but stumbling, propped up on the inside ready to fall. If you can remember the last time you almost fell off the hinge, maybe in an argument or stuck in traffic and then imagine being in that state 24 hours a day minus only the time you’re asleep. Being that way because of abuse, neglect, failure, depression, lost chances, dead dreams, being on the bottom or because of … whatever.

Waiting, waiting to be set off. Set it off by a glance, a word, a jacket you want, or because someone hit your cousin, wore blue on red day, kicked your dog, didn’t know what time it was. They, (we), always reduce this to over something; over a pair of shoes, a girl, basketball players or whatever amount of change the victim has in his pockets when the police finally draw that whit line around him. Instantly trading in a chance to see what is – for the sucker punch. Preferring to say that he was, she was, they were, just in the wrong place at the wrong time or shot over 84 cents or 10 dollars as if the money or the amount of it is to blame. In the end, without presence of mind and perspective, all we are left with is the event; upon which a long list of writers and social pundits invariably prop their sad stories lamenting what society has become, and how different it is now from when they were young. Some tie it into television reflecting society reflecting television again and the issue the woes for us all if something isn’t done. Maybe something like letting go; of our preconceptions, of our foreseeing and of our knowing.

Maybe the some light could fall into that blind spot, where were all hiding not because we don’t want to know, that way it’s easiest to settle for the cheap shot. Maybe one day they, or rather we, might peek out of the hole where all of the smart people do their bidding; from where they appropriately tell us what is in and what is out, what to eat, what to wear and when its going to rain, all the while casting these pearls as "normal" life.

Out of this hole, compassion overflows after the fact, rarely before the fact. It’s a contrived superficial compassion, the only kind the talkers know. After all, there must be at least a hint of authenticity, in order to keep the wizard behind the curtain and for their audience to connect and join the chorus. That time-tested chorus of feebly wishing that right should exist while doing nothing for it.

As the white line fades and with it the only thing we knew of them. Why? Everyone asks. At the bottom, no one should ever ask why.

by [former member] | 08 Aug 2005 09:08 | rome, Italy | | Report spam→

I would recommend:  Pity the Nation by Robert Fisk …a very humane document given to the wars.

                                       Power by  Bertrand Russell… some outstanding observations on the affluent and what
                                       some do with … well I’m loaded and I seem to have all this time and I can’t stop thinking of
                                       RULING everything…

                                       Oreintalism by Edward W. Said… Capital D for Dense but worth it.

by Dustin Leader | 08 Aug 2005 13:08 (ed. Aug 8 2005) | grrr, nowhere Winnipeg, Canada | | Report spam→
I’ve always been a big fan of photographers memoirs.
Robert Capas “Slightly Out of Focus”
Man Rays "Self Portrait"
Ansel Adams "Autobiography"

Margaret Bourke-White’s "Shooting the Russian War" is fascinating if only for the equipment list, even more impressive given the route she had to take to get there:

"My quota of supplies included three thousand flash bulbs, peanut variety, a large quantity of film packs, five cameras, twenty-two lens, four portable developing tanks, bottles of Dk21 fine grain developer, several papers of dressmaking pins, duplicates of every screw found in all minute parts of my lens mounts and synchronizing magnets, a synchorscope, and a jewelers screw driver and pliers. In addition I carried twenty-eight paper  bound detective stories…My equipment weighed six hundred pounds."

But when and doubt if you get bored of photographers memoirs try the memoir of their wife and/or lover:

"Kikis Memoirs" by Kiki of Montparnesse who was Man Ray’s lover and model for several years. The best reason to get the book is an introduction by Ernest Hemingway where he says the translation is horrible and you should just go learn French if you want to read the book and a rebuttal by the translator saying I did my best it doesnt translate well

"Through Another Lens" by Charis Wilson, who is Edward Weston ex-wife. Its one of the better books on photography I’ve read.

by Joshua Wolfe | 08 Aug 2005 15:08 (ed. Aug 8 2005) | New York City, United States | | Report spam→

by Joshua Wolfe | 08 Aug 2005 15:08 (ed. Aug 8 2005) | New York City, United States | | Report spam→

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teru kuwayama, I/O teru kuwayama
New York , United States
Cameron Knight, Photojournalist Cameron Knight
Cincinnati, Ohio , United States
Kenneth Dickerman, Photographer Kenneth Dickerman
Nyc , United States
Paul  Treacy, Photographer Paul Treacy
London , United Kingdom ( LGW )
Thomas Michael Corcoran, journalist/photographer Thomas Michael Corcoran
Washington, Dc , United States
Andy McMillan, photographer Andy McMillan
Charlotte, Nc , United States
Glenn Campbell, Photographer Glenn Campbell
Darwin , Australia
Julie Gueraseva, Photographer Julie Gueraseva
Brooklyn , United States
Dustin Leader, Photographer Dustin Leader
Winnipeg , Canada
Joshua  Wolfe, Photographer Joshua Wolfe
New York , United States


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