Inferno by James Nachtwey

October 10, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

I just completed reading Inferno, the "photography" book by photographer James Nachtwey. I placed the quotes around photography as although it is a photography book, it tells the compelling story, actually, the history, our history of the end of the 20th century and the horrors inflicted upon one another.

In the 1990's, I like most of my friends and family were living our lives with our own struggles. I recall hearing most of these stories in distant lands in countries that may have been covered in geography or history lessons, and maybe even answers rattled off in Jeopardy. And, of course, 15 years later, there have even been a few movies basing their plots in these killing fields.

What has touched me in reading this graphic novel of images is that we have not learned from the Holocaust of WWII. Even with the marketing to spread the truths of what people are capable of doing and how readily willing they are to ignore their conscious for their leaders' dogma, the truth is, people continue to this day brutalizing others for being different. Apparently the existence of multiple dedicated museums and historical sites of violence, brutality, and murder fall on deaf ears to those "leaders" that act on their greed, images of grandeur, bigoted thoughts, and their shallow compassion for other beings.

In the afterword of the book, Nachtwey begins with:

"Inferno represents a personal journal through the dark reaches of the last decade of the twentieth century.  It is a record of loss, grief, injustice, suffering, violence and death. Implicit is an appeal to the reader's best instincts - a spirit of generosity, a sense of right and wrong, the ability and the willingness to identify with others, the refusal to accept the unacceptable."

This book should be required reading, study, and discussion starting with high school.


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