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The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  1,382 ratings  ·  128 reviews
Most people, upon hearing gunfire, would run away and hide. Conflict photojournalists have the opposite reaction: they actually look for trouble, and when they find it, get as close as possible and stand up to get the best shot. This thirst for the shot and the seeming nonchalance to the risks entailed earned Greg Marinovich, Joao Silva, Ken Oosterbroek, and Kevin Carter t ...more
Paperback, 254 pages
Published September 20th 2001 by Basic Books (first published January 1st 2000)
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Catch-22 by Joseph HellerAll Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria RemarqueSlaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut1984 by George OrwellMASH by Richard Hooker
Absurdity of War
58th out of 72 books — 35 voters
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Non-American books that every American should read
265th out of 484 books — 353 voters

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Community Reviews

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The sentence that best summarizes this poignant read for me is from page 153, "Good pictures. Tragedy and violence certainly make powerful images. It is what we get paid for. But there is a price extracted with every such frame: some of the emotion, the vulnerability, the empathy that makes us human, is lost every time the shutter is released." Although you won't know this while reading, it perhaps explains why Greg Marinovich is no longer shooting conflict.

While this book is the story of deep
This is an easy read about four photographers in South Africa who photographed the township wars between the political parties the ANC and Inkatha. These wars occured in the early 90s as the country geared up for its first democratic elections in 1994. The book is also an interesting treatment of the moral problems associated with artists (like photographers) whose jobs demand that they witness people's pain but do little more than be a witness of it.
A phenomenal book. Taken from the perspective of war photographers who are there to capture the last, bloody days of Apartheid in South Africa. This book provides more than sufficient background on the history behind Apartheid, without overwhelming the reader. The toll that this conflict took on these 4 photogs and on everyday folks in South Africa is artfully presented in the bang bang club.
This one is pretty rough, but very worth the time.

Told by those who lived it, it's the story of the group of photographers that became internationally recognized for their photos of war torn Africa, primarily the unrest leading to the eventual end of apartheid in South Africa. We've all seen their photos of starving children, of mobs burning men alive. They're photos that are hard to look at and these guys stood RIGHT THERE and took them. The emotional baggage on all of them is tremendous and no
Bjørn André Haugland
A brutal, visceral and disturbing ride through the last days of apartheid South Africa. I loved it. Even though Marinovich is not an experienced writer, as can be seen through some less than fortunate passages, the style of the book is nonetheless incredibly engaging. Apart from the unfortunate in medias res beginning, which gives the chaotic impression that one needs to be intimately familiar with the conflict and its different groupings, this book gives anyone a tough to put down introduction ...more
I'm not going to say that this is the definitive insight into the transition between apartheid South Africa and universal suffrage in South Africa because I have done nothing that qualifies me to say that. But this book is written by a man who photographed, felt and lived those years. And with that qualification makes it very very worth reading.
Arwen Fowler-jonsson
I try to always read a book before I see the movie but until I saw the movie I did not even know about this book. The movie was almost exactly like the book which either sings very high praises for the movie or means the book was just average. I really loved reading the book and it made me more informed and educated about the events surrounding the end of apartheid. If you read the book or watch the movie you will gain almost the same in the end. The saddest part to me was the the reporter that ...more
Really enjoyed this book. Story of 4 journalists who follow the "bang-bang", the conflicts in South Africa leading up to the election of Nelson Mandela. They also do wars all over the world, from Bosnia to Ethiopia. This book is a story of how being war photographers destroyed them, as Joan says, every time he clicks the shutter, a small piece of his humanity dies. They are all depressed, tormented, and 2 end up committing suicide. One of them, Kevin, commits suicide after winning the Pulitzer f ...more
I saw the movie a few weeks ago and immediately knew that I had to know more about the history of the conflict during the four years before Mandela was elected president. I was also very intrigued by the brotherly bond between the photographers and became especially interested in Kevin Carter's life. The book is easy to follow and I found the pieces of historical information and personal anecdotes well intertwined. At times the book was difficult to read because of the harsh content. Sadly, not ...more
Oct 24, 2015 Konlin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Konlin by: Łukasz Kędzierski, Jacek Szust
Shelves: own
Poruszająca książka. Wiedziałem że skoro będzie o fotoreporterach wojennych to znaczy że i wojna będzie ale nie takiej wojny się spodziewałem. Mój naiwny obraz wojny to natarcie czołgów, bomby spadające z samolotów i te same samoloty spadające po zestrzeleniu, gdzieś daleko. Oczywiście są ludzkie dramaty, śmierć i cierpienie ale nie było w tym obrazie ludzi mordujących się maczetami, czy oblewającymi benzyną i rzucającymi zapałkę.
Poruszają też obszerne w książce rozterki moralne stojące przed św
Niel Vaughan
An honest account of addiction to adrenalin, drugs, egos and the truth.
This became my South African book in my 257 book challenge quite by accident. I have had it for a while – I tend to buy South African books at airports and obviously on that trip got side-tracked and didn’t read my purchase. I remembered it the other day and dived in. and pretty much swam to the end with maybe one breath.
It’s a cracker of a read with only a few slightly less than gripping sections.

The Bang-Bang Club, for those who may not know, was a group of crazy-ass photographers who covered
Anna Leung
This was truly an incredibly excellent read. The story, time, and events taking place in South Africa was truly riveting to learn about. Although the topic was quite heavy (as it takes place during the apartheid), the story of these bang-bang photographers were never romanticized or censored. The book was written in a very raw and realistic tone that allows the reader to begin to realize how this difficult period has affected the citizens of South Africa in so many different, intricate levels. T ...more
Babak Fakhamzadeh
With the two authors being South African and the book recounting predominantly events from the period around the abolishment of apartheid, it's surprising the authors and copy editors let a common misconception slip.
The book claims that, during the Soweto Uprisings on June 16th 1976, Hector Pieterson (which the book spells as Petersen) was the first to die, which is debatable, at best, but generally considered to be wrong. Most certainly, he was not the first child to be shot, as this was Hasti
It was hard to rate this book but in the end, chose 5 stars because it gave me a view of South Africa's end of Apartheid, the political aspects and the photojournalists recording it. It was heart-wrenching to read at times and the photos intensified it.

The Bang-Bang Club comprises of four South African photographers, Greg, Joao, Ken and Kevin who risk their lives going into violent townships, dead zones, hostels in order to document what was really happening there with their cameras. By working
Alexandra Loobeensky
f5.6 nie wystarczy

Szóstego lutego 2011 roku Wojciech Jagielski opublikował na łamach „Gazety Wyborczej” dość obszerny artykuł, w którym opisywał traumę i stres, będące udziałem fotoreporterów zajmujących się konfliktami zbrojnymi. Zadedykowany Krzysztofowi Millerowi tekst został zatytułowany zupełnie tak, jak wydana dekadę wcześniej książka Grega Marinovicha i João Silvy, „Bractwo Pif-Paf”; trudno z pewnością wyrokować, czy była ona główną inspiracją, ale cytaty z niej pochodzące znajdowały się
This book is incredibly thought provoking. The reader finds themselves in the writers shoes facing moral decisions that must be made in an instant but they will carry for a lifetime.

The story is about four press photograghers who are South African and who cover the pre-election period of 1994.

As a young teenager one at the time I accepted the one sided government propoganda sent out and reading this book illustrates the darker side of what the truth was and how it was manipulated by the Aparthei
Living in South Africa over the past 1 1/2+ years has taught me so much about a country and cultures whose history has been riddled with trials, violence, and ultimately transformation. There are still a lot underway in the 'New South Africa' but the efforts made since the transition to democracy have been profound. This book was an eye-opener for me, uncovering more about the history of the country I currently call home.

Per's my Three Sentence Book Summary:

Both disturbing and beaut
Chelsey Langland
The authors were two members of a loose group of photographers who took pictures of the armed strife in South Africa in the very early 1990s, when apartheid was coming to an end. The book is actually a very good history lesson on the politics of how everything came together, and the warring between the townships and the different ethnic factions. The book covers the death of two of the members.

The book touches on many ethical issues, like how do you stand there and take a photo of someone being
During the transition period between the release of Nelson Mandela in 1991 and the first democratic elections in April 1994, a number of factions tried to derail the process in South Africa by violent means. This is the story of a group of war/news photographers who captured the low level war fought by tribal factions in the townships of the Witwatersrand. Their photographs became one of the main sources of reporting during the period and ensured that ordinary South Africans remained aware of th ...more
Jun 16, 2011 Elizabeth rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people with hearts of steel
Shelves: 2011
There's a pre-req for this book: a keen intellectual interest in the politics of South Africa. In order to contextualize the cowboy element of the photojournalists comprising the Bang Bang Club [Jaoa, Greg, Ken and Kevin] the author goes into DEEP historical aspects of Apartheid and the unraveling. He has to I think to articulate exactly how violent things are and the huge risks whites (even born and bred in SA) were taking by going into the townships to shoot these photos.

The information about
Richard Kunzmann
Relentless, honest, personal, and grating: just like the Bang-Bang Club shot its photos of a bleeding South Africa. We’ve all seen their images at one point or another in the years leading up to, and after, the first free elections; these are the unrestrained words of the few good men who took it upon themselves to visually document those violent days in a violent country. We run with them as they sprint through the war zones and show us their hellish inner worlds, which eventually led to hefty ...more
Set chiefly during the chaotic blood drenched last days of Apartheid. This non-fiction account follows a group of South African war photographers in their professional and personal lives, as they attempt to document the hidden war that preceded the fall of the white minority government of South Africa. A story known by most of us, but not in great detail, manifested through the optics of this group of men popularly known as "The Bang Bang Club." The reader is exposed in both memoir and photograp ...more
Riveting, graphic, tragic . . . this is the story of four "living on the edge" photojournalists who essentially broke the horrors of South African apartheid in living color to the international world. It is told in startlingly frank detail by Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva, the only two journalists still alive at the time. This book presents a human side while revealing just how heinous is the institution of apartheid. This story should be told in all its shocking detail, to sugar coat it in any ...more
A perspectiva de Greg Marinovich é pessoal e implacável.

Sem dúvida falta uma narrativa mais fluida, mas seus autores (João Silva foi colaborador) são fotógrafos e não romancistas, e por isso (ou ainda assim) o livro vale as cinco estrelas.

As histórias oferecem e capturam de forma sincera os últimos anos do apartheid na África do Sul até o momento da eleição de Nelson Mandela e seus desdobramentos políticos e, principalmente, as conseqüências emocionais sofridas pelo "clube do bangue-bangue".

Steve Goodyear
Set in South Africa during the civil war leading up to Nelson Mandela's election, this book gives an inside account of what was happening on the streets through the eyes of a photojournalist. It has a thrilling account of what it is like to be a conflict photographer: not only with the daily dangers they face on the front line, but their motivation to even be out there trying to capture the picture that tells the story behind the conflict.

For me I couldn't put this book down. Part of that might
I was introduced to the work of Kevin Carter by, of all things, a Manic Street Preachers song. I'm drawn to read this book by his tragic story but also by the arresting images I've seen that are contained in it.

...Unfortunately, I just got a paperback copy of the book and the reproductions of the photos are terrible. Worse than you would find in the most low-rent daily paper in Nowheresville, USA. I hope the text makes it worth it.

Decent-quality versions of many of the photos in the book can be
I first read this book about 10 years ago. Today, I understand far more about both the transition from apartheid to democracy in South Africa and photojournalism in places of conflict. I wanted to learn more about the Hostel War which took place in South Africa during the transitional period when the apartheid government was dismantled and non-racial democracy was established, 1990-1994. The violence taking place in the townships was referenced in Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom, which I r ...more
Dave Kenyon
"Snapshots from a hidden war" is a very good sub-title. Having lived in South Africa at the time, we were generally unaware of what was going on, and more specifically, what was going on behind the scenes. The National Party government treated us like mushrooms: kept us in the dark and fed us on sh.. manure. So this was a hidden war for most of us. During the TRC, when a lot of these stories came to light, I was living in London, so didn't experience the baring of truth that was so necessary for ...more
Sep 16, 2007 Jen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: not sure.
This book follows a brother hood of photo journalists who made there names taking some of the most provocative images in human history. They forged names for there selves in the war torn south Africa as blacks fight among them selves and against the dirty cops, gangsters and every day citizens who were caught up in the formation then destruction of apartheid

Well I still don't know how I feel about conflict photo journalists. Images that have generated profit of the most desperate of people do ma
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“Good pictures. Tragedy and violence certainly make powerful images. It is what we get paid for.But there is a price extracted with every such frame: some of the emotion, the vulnerability, the empathy that makes us human, is lost every time the shutter is released.” 2 likes
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