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The Bang-Bang Club: Snapshots from a Hidden War

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  1,728 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
During the final, bloody days of South African apartheid, four remarkable young men-photographers, friends, and rivals-banded together
ebook, 293 pages
Published May 14th 2014 by Basic Books (AZ) (first published January 1st 2000)
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Nov 11, 2012 Russ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Francis Kessy
Oct 20, 2016 Francis Kessy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
You might end you up with a pink slip if you start reading this Book in a working day. Absolutely recommended on your day off. The Bang Bang Club is a thrilling account of the four photojournalists who worked and have fun together during last days of apartheid. In this book I have learned more about Kelving Carter, a photographer among the four who took the famous picture of a vulture that seemed to stalk a starving Child in South Sudan. The photograph made Kelvin get the Pultizer award. He late ...more
Jan 14, 2008 J.L. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 15, 2008 Lindsay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
I took a visual journalism class at Boston University with Greg Marinovich last year. As happens with many of the teachers and instructors I’ve encounter in your life, I did really know much about him as a person. All I knew what was in front of me: Here was a man who walked with a funny gait and spoke with a foreign accent but explained the fundamentals of photography like no one I’ve ever met. He was personable yet encouraging, pushing people to strive for things that he knew was within their ...more
May 13, 2009 Gavin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Linda Watkins
Mar 03, 2016 Linda Watkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a memoir by conflict photographers Greg Marinovich & Joao Silva with a foreward by Archbishop Desmond Tutu. It is an appaling remembering of the time 4 conflict photographers spent in South Africa during the time that apartheid was coming to a violent end, as well as time spent in Sudan. Two of the 4 received Pulitzers for their photos. The book gives you the feel of what it is like to leave your humanity behind & go in & get the shot. It isn't your job to help. It is your jo ...more
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
Sep 03, 2013 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Hannah (fullybookedreviews)
Review to follow
Niel Vaughan
Jun 09, 2014 Niel Vaughan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An honest account of addiction to adrenalin, drugs, egos and the truth.
Elizabeth Mendoza
This book took forever for me to finish because it was such a tough subject matter that I know many people in my profession have to deal with. There is constantly a grey area between being human and being a journalist that changes with each scenario. A detailed and touching account of pain, grief and constant doubt of capturing what's going on is helping the people you're photographing.
Ola Loobeensky
Mar 21, 2011 Ola Loobeensky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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
Sep 10, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
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
Oct 29, 2010 Bruna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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".

Nov 06, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 01, 2011 Anna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 02, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 06, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Chelsey Langland
Jul 22, 2013 Chelsey Langland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
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
Adrian Fingleton
The Bang Bang club is a memoir written by a freelance photographer about th wwild times that he and a few kindred spirits with cameras had during the worst of the unrest in South Africa, when the Inkatha (secretly backed by the dying white regime) were fighting a kind of proxy war with the ANC and attacks on the hostels – largely occupied by the Zula Inkatha – were the order of the day.

In this crazy environment the local knowledge of a handful of South African photographers took them into succes
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
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
Aug 27, 2012 Rich rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 04, 2013 Luci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 17, 2012 Abe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This one should be required reading in history courses. Not because the moment to moment chronology of events or the description of vital and important elements of modern African history, though those elements are here, they are handled better elsewhere, but because it captures a reality of history and conflict that is largely missing from the academy. History and social change is made by people, flawed, conflicted, and confused people who are, moment to moment, just doing what feels right at th ...more
Aug 26, 2012 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Mar 23, 2007 Aaron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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.” 3 likes
“There we met Distance, a hardened ANC fighter with the looks and physique of an adventure movie-star. It was a quiet day and one of us mentioned Abdul. Distance looked at us and then said: "I am not sorry your friend Abdul was killed. It is good that one of you dies. Nothing personal, but now you feel what is happening to us every day.” 0 likes
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