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Sahel: The End of the Road (Series in Contemporary Photography) [Hardcover]

Sebastiao Salgado , Fred Ritchin , Eduardo Galeano , Lelia Wanick Salgado

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Book Description

28 Sep 2004 Series in Contemporary Photography (Book 3)
In 1984 Sebastiao Salgado began what would be a fifteen-month project of photographing the drought-stricken Sahel region of Africa in the countries of Chad, Ethiopia, Mali, and Sudan, where approximately one million people died from extreme malnutrition and related causes. Working with the humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders, Salgado documented the enormous suffering and the great dignity of the refugees. This early work became a template for his future photographic projects about other afflicted people around the world. Since then, Salgado has again and again sought to give visual voice to those millions of human beings who, because of military conflict, poverty, famine, overpopulation, pestilence, environmental degradation, and other forms of catastrophe, teeter on the edge of survival. Beautifully produced, with thoughtful supporting narratives by Orville Schell, Fred Ritchin, and Eduardo Galeano, this first U.S. edition brings some of Salgado's earliest and most important work to an American audience for the first time. Twenty years after the photographs were taken, "Sahel: The End of the Road" is still painfully relevant. Born in Brazil in 1944, Sebastiao Salgado studied economics in Sao Paulo and Paris and worked in Brazil and England. While traveling as an economist to Africa, he began photographing the people he encountered. Working entirely in a black-and-white format, Salgado highlights the larger meaning of what is happening to his subjects with an imagery that testifies to the fundamental dignity of all humanity while simultaneously protesting its violation by war, poverty, and other injustices. 'The planet remains divided,' Salgado explains. 'The first world in a crisis of excess, the third world in a crisis of need.' This disparity between the haves and the have-nots is the subtext of almost all of Salgado's work.

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"While art should speak for itself, Salgado's photography is first and foremost a documentary way of bearing witness to something else. His work is both an anguished cri de coeur and, although he professes not to be religions, something of a votive offering presented in the hopes of getting the attention of a world that sometimes seems to have fallen asleep." - Orville Schell, from the Foreword"

About the Author

Sebastiao Salgado has been awarded more than fifty international prizes from countries including France, Germany, Holland, Spain, Sweden, Japan, and the United States. He has twice been named Photojournalist of the Year by the International Center of Photography in New York. He is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and an honorary member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences in the United States. Major exhibitions of his work include Sahel: L'Homme en detresse (1986), Other Americas (1986), An Uncertain Grace (1990), Workers: An Archaeology of the Industrial Age (1993), Migrations: Humanity in Transition (2000), and The Children: Refugees and Migrants (2000). Orville Schell is Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. Fred Ritchin is Director of PixelPress (www.pixelpress.org), Associate Professor of Photography and Imaging at New York University, and former Picture Editor for the New York Times Magazine. Eduardo Galeano's books have been translated into more than twenty languages. He is the winner of the Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom. Lelia Wanick Salgado conceived, created, and edited almost all of Sebastiao Salgado's books, as well as most of his exhibitions. She is the Director of Amazonas Images.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will haunt you long after you put it down 29 Aug 2008
By Guy P. Harrison - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In 1984-1985 approximately one million people died as a result of a severe famine in the Sahel region of Africa (includes parts of Chad, Ethiopia, Mali, and Sudan). Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado spent many months shooting the disaster and "Sahel: The End of the Road" is the remarkable result of his efforts. The photos, all in black and white, are art in the most meaningful sense. Salgado's images grab you by the throat and pull you into the dizzying mix of horror, pain, love, hope and struggle that exists within a crisis like this.

I suspect that some may criticize Salgado's work for being too good. His photographs are so haunting and dramatic that they arguably could be seen as exploitive. His subjects, starving people, could be mistaken for actors on Hollywood sets precisely designed to drag emotions from viewers. If Stephen Spielberg did a famine movie to match "Schindler's List", for example, it probably would look a lot like Salgado's book. I imagine critics thinking that famine is not fiction; it's real and it's ugly. But Salgado's images are not staged. This obviously was life, death and the in-between as it occurred before his eyes. His choice of black and white film and his talent for seeing, framing and capturing spectacular shots are hardly crimes. He is a great photographer and he did what he does. One cannot blame him for preferring to apply his talents out on the jagged edge of human misery rather than some Paris runway or football match. "Sahel: The End of the Road" is not poverty pornography. I am very sensitive to the issue of extreme poverty yet I did not close this book with a feeling of disgust, rather I felt more aware, more human and more determined to care.

Back in 1984, during the height of that terrible famine, images on CNN and the BBC forced the western world to cringe in horror. Some turned away; some tried to help. (Remember "Live Aid" and the hit song, "We are the World"?) Politicians delivered determined speeches, preachers prayed, and the public agreed that mass starvation was not something the modern world should allow to happen. Then, of course, nothing meaningful was done to end global hunger or prevent future famines. Today, nearly a quarter of a century after the famine that Salgado photographed, more than 800 million people do not have enough food. Every day more than 16,000 children die from hunger. That's one child dying every five seconds. Buying this book, by the way, does provide some direct help as a portion of profits are given to Doctors Without Borders, an organization that provides medical aid to people in the developing world.

The true horror of Salgado's book is not that it serves as a record of that terrible famine that occurred 24 years ago. This is not a mere collection of snapshots, past moments frozen forever by a camera. No, more than anything, Salgado's work is a mirror that reflects a current and continuing horror that we in the West seem to find acceptable.
I highly recommend this book. It may not be the happiest book you will ever own but that is no reason not to experience the work of Salgado. As a human you have an obligation to at least look at the real world we inhabit. Don't turn away. Look, and see humanity for what it really is.

For those who feel the desire or need to help improve global hunger in some way, I suggest visiting [...] and making a donation. There is a convenient page on the site that accommodates credit card transactions. A few of your dollars won't stop hunger or change the world but it may save a child or two. And that's not a bad start.

--Guy P. Harrison, author of

Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know About Our Biological Diversity


50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Photographs that changed the world's perspective on famine 23 Mar 2010
By DOTAN GOOR-ARYE - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are only a handful of photographic projects that really changed the way the world reacts.
In the mid-eighties of the 20th century a disaster stroke Africa - drought and famine killed hundreds of thousands of people.
But the world stood silent, mostly due to unawareness of the disaster.

Then came Salgado.
After more than a year in the Sahel region, Sebastiao Salgado returned with shocking images the world (apparently) was not ready to see at that time.
Still, he eventually managed to publish this book in Europe, a book which became one of the most provocative and controversial pieces of documentary work at the time.
Salgado, in this book, presents slow decay and death, children mortality and infants starvation.
Yet, the pictures are artistically beautiful and almost touches divine perfection in a way.
At various occasions, Salgado was accused in inhumanity for his ability to take these pictures, the way he perfectly composed a frame of a dying young woman while her breath slowly evaporate from her being.

While looking at these images, one can easily relate to this argument: "How can he take such pictures and not helping these poor people?"
Well, think again. The awareness of the western world to humanitarian disasters as such is there thanks to Salgado and his followers.

This is a 'must have' book for every documentary photography enthusiast, a piece in the history of photography.

Dotan Goor-Arye
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting imagery 18 Sep 2005
By T. Monson - Published on Amazon.com
One of the most potent books on the human experience. I got a lump in my throat while viewing this collection of prints. Sebastiao Salgado is a master at using value to capture shape and texture in his subject matter.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book, definitely worth buying 23 Mar 2011
By TheSoapmaker - Published on Amazon.com
Sebastiao Salgado is pure genius when it comes to juxtaposing great subject matter with god-awesome composition. This book is definitely worth the price for those of you who really want to learn good photography. Every time I flip through the book, I learn something new. Great buy!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book from an excellent photographer! 12 Oct 2007
By Tassos Venetsanopoulos - Published on Amazon.com
The book "Sahel: The End of the Road" is a rare example that shows how can a photojournalist produce excellent fine art pictures!!!
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