on 13 January 2001
To gripe about the fact that certain of the photographer's other works are not covered in this book misses the point. Inferno is a harrowing and moving account of inhumanity, and in that respect it is an important body of work. If the intention, however, is to draw this misery to the attention of the ordinary man, then it fails miserably since its high quality production standards, and sheer size dictate that it must be expensive. It is an impressive body of work that I shall look at time and time again, but the content sits uncomfortably with a product that looks and feels like an art book. Perhaps that is the point?
on 19 February 2002
James Nachtwey's war photography was never supposed to be a representative perusal of global conflict and suffering. It is consequently churlish to denigrate it for poor coverage, as in so doing one may well miss its accomplishment in being one of the most harrowing and important collections of images I have seen in recent years. Frankly, the introduction by Sante is badly-written and erratic, but more to the point it is unimportant. The images and their terse captions (presented at the back of the book) dwarf Sante's slightly ostentatious posturing. What sets Nachtwey apart from the majority of war photographers is the fact that each image - however horrendous or traumatic the topic - is absolutely beautiful, with tones, composition and perspective all keenly observed. Like Don McCullin, he seems to maintain the (I believe correct) idea that war photographers can do more to alleviate the suffering of their subjects if they coolly record without becoming directly involved at an emotional level. The images are therefore more accessible to the general public, who cannot experience the emotional charge of being present to witness the sight in all it's horror. Additionally, this decidedly purist stance has the effect of elevating images of suffering to truly beautiful, even magnificent portrayals that restore some of the human dignity that has been so cruelly ravaged by war and famine. All this said, it is still a hard book to read, and is guaranteed to shake you out of a complacency you never even knew you had.
on 27 July 2015
This brutal, horrific, important book is mentally and emotionally hard to absorb in even multiple sittings. The pictures, as one would expect from Nachtwey, are extraordinary, haunting, moving and often somehow beautiful. Few people will have witnessed so much inhumanity in so much of the world and fewer have lived to share the depths of that depravity with others.
The printing and binding are up to snuff and do the work justice.
In short, this is a must-purchase for anyone interested in photography - and not just war or documentary photography - and for anyone else interested in the wider world and recent world history. It's an incredibly important, poignant book.
on 27 January 2001
This is an astonishing book of war related black and white photography and in a saturated world of war imagery and short attention span it certainly has succeeded in arresting my attention. James Nachtwey demonstrates with a brutal honesty and integrity his disgust of some the ugliest pursuits of humankind. Its simple layout and design are wholly appropriate for its content and help the reader empathise with its plight. The photography is simply stunning and wholeheartedly achieves in delivering an uncomfortable message. Nachtwey's images are enough to churn the stomach whilst steering well clear of exploitation. Not an easy task today. I found Luc Sante's writing noble although I considered it a tad irrelevant as I believe in the school that says that good image books need no introduction. This book is not expensive for what it is and whilst it it denies some people access, to print it any cheaper by lessening the quality just to save a few quid would be a much bigger injustice. If this book is ever found on a coffee table then its owner really has missed the point.
on 21 December 2011
This book is a masterpiece of what I would call "political" photography. Nachtwey goes to war, or follows war's footsteps, and closes in on his subjects where most others would turn away. He prevails over his own emotions in order to show us the horrors of the world. He feels he has to do it, as he explains in interviews (see DVD War Photographer [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]) because if he does not, who will? He is humble, understated and brilliant. The book contains only B&W pictures, is big and heavy and expensive, and it is probably the best photo reportage book you will ever buy. It certainly is for me.
on 4 November 2010
This book is brilliant but highly disturbing. James Nachtwey is one of the best (war) photographer of all times. The way he captures horror is undescribable. Most photos in this book are very difficult to look at. The photos are about the result of war: famine, destruction, death, despair. And the book is so big, the viewer is left alone with people that suffer immensely. Its gripping, its personal. Some people might cry going through this book. But aspiring photographers will look for clues how to achieve with light, composition and subject, that kind of reaction from the reader. It is therefore foremost an inspiring book and in the end it will provoke a reaction. A form of anger will fill your mind.
The ultimate collectors item!
on 14 January 2010
Why Did I buy this?
I dont know why I ordered this book,
when I could've ordered something that celebrates life, anything that celebrates life. It was expensive, very heavy and does not fit into my bookshelf, so I have to keep it out on a table covered with a large handkerchief.
I have a few books on photography:
Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Adams, Walker Evans, Man Ray etc.
Before I ordered Inferno, I went through some videos of James in action and some reviews. It is a fact that I had to face, I could not turn a blind eye to my mind which wanted this book in my shelf (or on my table for that matter).
Its bad news, and somehow humans in a peculiar and ironic way like bad news(subconsciously), its a fact.
When to open it?
'The bad news book' arrived at my doorstep a few days ago, except for a few random pages, I haven't gone through the whole book, I feel that there is a time to open the book, like the opening of hell's gates.
I dont urge anyone to buy this book unless they really want to see what James saw with his eyes. When you open the book you will find that James had no artistic notion about what he shot, the photos are spontaneous and the ones I saw really really sucked my energy away.
There is so much sadness, gruesome depressing sadness in almost all the pages. Its not a book where you just open it everyday and happily go through the images.
Quality of the Book?
The prints are large and the photos are printed on matte paper.The paper is heavy gauge and would last a lot of abuse.
The book is spine bound very well with a cloth cover with embossed letters 'Inferno' with authors name.
Ironically I don't regret ordering it.
on 24 March 2011
Great, amazing book, in all aspects. The book itself is big, huge, heavy, and beautifully presented. At the same time, it looks dry, sad, like a stone. So it suits perfectly the content.
Nachtwey's images are hard to look at without crying or feeling really bad, so they touch you deep, they interrogate you about your values.
The book leaves no space to doubt, photos come out as words in a direct speech, straight to you.
One of the best photojournalism books ever done, a must have.
Delivery from Amazon.co.uk to Barcelona, Spain was quick and clean, one week time, perfectly packed and protected, and delivered at home. Thank you!!
on 14 February 2000
james nachtwey is without question one of the most eminent war photographers of our time, but to publish a book at this price without his work from afganistan, indonesia and kurdistan is asking too much.
on 8 July 2013
The book says everything about this kind of photography as James Nachtwey is talented photographer. The book arrived on time is technicaly excellent. The content however is incredible!!!