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Book Review: War Is Only Half the Story, Vol VI


Book Review War is Only Half the Story, Vol VI By Andrew Lichtenstein, Simon Brann Thorpe, Michelle Frankfurter, Christopher Capozziello & Michael Zumstein Reviewed by Colin Pantall War is only Half the Story, Vol VI shows the work of the finalists in the Aftermath Project grant application.

War is Only Half the Story, Vol VI. By Andrew Lichtenstein, Simon Brann
Thorpe, Michelle Frankfurter, Christopher Capozziello
& Michael Zumstein. The Aftermath Project, 2014.
 
War Is Only Half the Story, Vol VI
Reviewed by Colin Pantall

War Is Only Half the Story, Vol VI
Photographs by Andrew Lichtenstein, Simon Brann Thorpe, Michelle Frankfurter, Christopher Capozziello & Michael Zumstein
The Aftermath Project, 2014. 87 pp., 78 color illustrations, 11x11". 


War is only Half the Story, Vol VI shows the work of the finalists in the Aftermath Project grant application. Michelle Frankfurter’s Destino looks at migration from Latin America to the USA, Toy Soldiers by Simon Brann Thorpe is a more conceptual piece where real soldiers are posed as toy soldiers. Bon Amis by Michael Zumstein looks at the failure of Ivory Coast to overcome its violent past, while Chris Capoziello’s For God, Race and Country is a tour of the Klu Klux Klan complete a picture of a young boy staring at a black doll hanging by the neck from a branch of a tree.

The injustices of the past are also revisited in the work of the winner, Andrew Lichtenstein. His project, American Memory, forms the bulk of the book and is almost a visual representation of Howard Zinn’s classic A People’s History of the United States. Here Lichtenstein photographs historical sites that connect past to present and shows what might be a rougher and realer USA than the conventional historical narratives would have us believe.


War is Only Half the Story, Vol VI. By Andrew Lichtenstein, Simon Brann Thorpe, Michelle Frankfurter, Christopher Capozziello& Michael Zumstein. The Aftermath Project, 2014.

One picture shows Winthrop in Massachusetts. In the background rises above the waters of Boston Harbour, water that is breaking on a rocky, reed-strewn beach. This is Deer Island, "America’s first concentration camp. Denied adequate shelter or food, over 500 ‘Christian Indians’ starved or froze to death on the island" in the winter of 1675-1676.

The pictures are quiet and evocative, featuring sites that are neglected and overgrown, concealed by layer upon layer of retouched history. We see James Weekley, the last resident of Pigeon Holler on Blair Mountain, Virginia sitting on a sofa in his trophy studded room. Weekley is a former miner who refuses to sell his land to coal mining companies, Blair Mountain is the site where, in 1921, the National Guard used planes to bomb the trenches of striking miners.

War is Only Half the Story, Vol VI. By Andrew Lichtenstein, Simon Brann Thorpe, Michelle Frankfurter, Christopher Capozziello& Michael Zumstein. The Aftermath Project, 2014.

There’s the motel where Martin Luther King was assassinated, the start of the American fence that separates the United States from Mexico and a picture of Money, Mississippi, the small town where Emmett Till was "…kidnapped, beaten, and murdered…" in 1955 after flirting with a white woman. His murderers were quickly set free despite admitting to the crime.

Wounded Knee and Trail of Tears also feature, as does Mankato, site of "America’s largest mass execution." Thirty-six Dakota warriors were hung here following a rebellion by Dakotas who were ‘…starving after promised provisions never arrived on their reservations.’

War is Only Half the Story, Vol VI. By Andrew Lichtenstein, Simon Brann Thorpe, Michelle Frankfurter, Christopher Capozziello& Michael Zumstein. The Aftermath Project, 2014.
The internment of Japanese Americans in the Second World War is shown, as is the slave trade. We see a dawn ceremony on Rockaway Beach commemorating those Africans who died in slaving ships after being kidnapped and enslaved in their home countries.


In the above examples, it’s not too difficult to find contemporary parallels that resonate with the brutalities of the past. Often, as with James Weekley, these are embedded into the visual narrative. Sometimes, however, especially when there is a sense of the progressive, the past lies dead and buried. This is the case in the picture of the home where Lyndon Johnson announced his war on Poverty in 1964. The home isn’t there anymore. All you can see are ivy strewn trees and undergrowth. The house has gone and so has the War on the Poverty.

War is Only Half the Story, Vol VI. By Andrew Lichtenstein, Simon Brann Thorpe, Michelle Frankfurter, Christopher Capozziello& Michael Zumstein. The Aftermath Project, 2014.
In the introduction, Lichtenstein writes, "History is all around us, in the air we breathe, and it is very much alive. Calling attention to the injustices of the past is important, for me, because ignoring them can be worse than the original crime committed. It is these denials of the cruelty of slavery, of the Indian genocide, of the violence used to suppress the labor movement that allow those same injustices to continue today. I’ve always believed that the first step towards healing a wound is acknowledgement. Without that, it is impossible to move forward."—COLIN PANTALL


COLIN PANTALL is a UK-based writer and photographer. He is a contributing writer for the British Journal of Photography and a Senior Lecturer in Photography at the University of Wales, Newport. http://colinpantall.blogspot.com

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