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Regarding the Pain of Others (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Published just three years after 9/11, this is a powerful meditation on the intention behind and consumption of war photography. Sontag explores the necessary act of acknowledging violence while challenging ourselves to respond to it with empathy, not apathy. Today, when acts of mass violence are as common as the hashtags that represent them, this book feels particularly urgent.

— Kristi


A brilliant, clear-eyed new consideration of the visual representation of violence in our culture--its ubiquity, meanings, and effects

Watching the evening news offers constant evidence of atrocity--a daily commonplace in our "society of spectacle." But are viewers inured -or incited--to violence by the daily depiction of cruelty and horror? Is the viewer's perception of reality eroded by the universal availability of imagery intended to shock?

In her first full-scale investigation of the role of imagery in our culture since her now-classic book On Photography defined the terms of the debate twenty-five years ago, Susan Sontag cuts through circular arguments about how pictures can inspire dissent or foster violence as she takes a fresh look at the representation of atrocity--from Goya's The Disasters of War to photographs of the American Civil War, lynchings of blacks in the South, and Dachau and Auschwitz to contemporary horrific images of Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, and New York City on September 11, 2001.

As John Berger wrote when On Photography was first published, "All future discussions or analysis of the role of photography in the affluent mass-media societies is now bound to begin with her book." Sontag's new book, a startling reappraisal of the intersection of "information", "news," "art," and politics in the contemporary depiction of war and disaster, will be equally essential. It will forever alter our thinking about the uses and meanings of images in our world.

About the Author

Susan Sontag's most recent novel, "In America," won the National Book Award in 2000. Her other books include four novels, a collection of stories, a play, and nonfiction works, among them "On Photography" and "Illness as Metaphor." She lives in New York City.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780374248581
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: January 1st, 2003
Pages: 144
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Created At: 10/21/2014 09:24pm
Last Updated At: 8/22/2018 09:48am