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Inside Algeria Hardcover – Nov 1998


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A collection of photographs of the nation of Algeria which portray the political turmoil and fierce repression that qualifies it as a closed society.

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Amazon.com: 5 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Photojournalism At Its Best 21 Feb 2005
By A. Ross - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Swiss photojournalist von Graffenried made eight trips to Algeria during the 1990s to document the horrific effects of the conflict that started smoldering in the late '80s and burst into open civil war with the cancellation of the 1991-92 elections. One has to admire the sheer bravery of the effort, as this was a period in which some seventy or so journalists were killed by Islamic guerillas, and some 100,000 people were killed by guerillas and the army. Beyond this obvious danger, there is no "camera culture" in Algeria (nor indeed in most Arab countries). Traditionally, the camera is reserved for documenting special occasions, and in Algeria it is tainted by its association with the French, who used it during Algeria's struggle for independence as a tool of control. To overcome these obstacles, von Graffenried used an old a Widelux panoramic camera which produces 150° views without any lens or shutter noise. Armed with this camera which looks like a pair of binoculars, he would shoot from the hip, guessing at what was in frame. This technique is one that makes for interesting ethical debates, and even von Graffenried admitted in an interview that "it makes you feel dirty." Thankfully he was able to rise to this challenge and come away with such a stunning collection of ninety black and white photographs, beautifully reproduced in this stark coffee-table book.

The breadth of subject matter is amazing: a FIS rally, children and poverty in the Bab el Oued, black marketeering in the Casbah, beautiful Berber children in Kabyle, the funerals of president Boudiaf, writer Tahar Djaout, and Islamist fighters, behind the scenes of the "ninja" (special forces police) barracks and in operations, the aftermath of a car bomb, teenagers trying to live normally at the clubs and beaches, the aftermath of a village massacre, and so on. There is a lot of pain and suffering in this book, and as someone who spent their childhood in Algeria, it's a heartbreaking portrait. Still, it's an outstanding work of photojournalism that demands the attention of anyone interested in photographing in adverse situations, foreign cultures, and the Middle East in general. It is also to be highly commended for putting a human face and picture to the exceedingly nasty civil war that stole a generation from Algeria.

Interestingly, von Graffenried returned to Algeria in 2002, when the country was somewhat safer and tracked down some of the people he photographed to show them the book. With him was Algerian documentary filmmaker Mohammed Soudani, who recorded the varying reactions people had to the photographs. The resulting film, Guerre Sans Image (War Without Images) is apparently quite good, though I've not seen it.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Searing and unforgettable images 19 Jan 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As a photographer (albeit amateur) who has attempted to work inside other Arab countries photographing Islamist insurgencies and security forces, I have a huge amount of respect for the environment in which von Graffenreid attempted to work. He has succeeded hugely. His photographs are stark, absolutely searing, and freighted with undertones of almost unbearable tension. This book should be mandatory for anyone with an interest in photojournalism, combat photography, the Middle East, Islamist politics, and covert photography.
7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Algeria 19 Jun 2000
By Rasheed Fazle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Algeria gained independence from France July 5, 1962 when the Evian accords were signed. The country had been fighting a war of independence, led by the National Liberation Front, since the 1950's. More than one million Algerian's were killed and over two million have been internally displaced. On December 26, 1991, the Algeria's first multi-party general election took place. The military intervened in the election for fear that the Islamic Salvation Front would win the election. Early February 1992 a state of emergency was declared and since that time it's believed that over 100,000 Algerian's have been killed in the eight years of civil strife. Michael Von Graffenried photography and story are timely and incredible because it captures a people who are tired of conflict and who are struggling to stay alive.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Algeria is more complex than you think 5 Mar 2008
By Chickasaw - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In 1962, after 132 years of brutal occupation and inhumane treatment of the native population, Algeria gained its independence from France. France left 98% of the Algerian population illiterate. Isn't that a another crime against humanity? In addition, the "Mujahidines" who fought the French armies thought they deserved to be in charge of the country and they did get control of the government. Which way should one expect such country to go? Of course to disaster.
To make things worse, they thought because France was capitalist, Algeria should be on the opposite side (socialism).While under occupation, the population suffered daily from poverty, oppression and starvation while the Europeans settlers enjoyed the vast tracts of fertile lands and natural resources taken from the natives. France used techniques, such as "divide and conquer" and "make them illiterate to control them" and "starve them to subdue them" to keep its grip tight on Algeria.. What happened in Algeria since the independence is mainly the natural consequences of the brutal colonialism it endured and survived for 132 years. Almost every developed country went through a crisis/revolution/civil war. Today, the foreign influence and interference (politics and economics) in the majority of the third world countries have devastating effects and Algeria is no exception.
3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Arab Country? 27 April 2005
By F. Bensaadi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
To the first reviewer: Algeria an Arab country? Where did you get this one? Don't talk about people and countries you don't know about. Algeria is Berber. Many algerians are arabic-speaking, but no one is Arab. How dare you reduce Berbers to this shamefully exotcizing picture :"beautiful Berber children in Kabyle" ?

There is no "camera culture" because there's no money for cameras, this has nothing to do with social taboos.

As for the book, it's selective anyway. So you want to get you picture of it go and visit.
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