“I think war is part of the hard-wiring of young men,” Tim Hetherington once said, and for much of his short life, he offered himself as proof – not as a combatant but a photographer, in Sierra Leone and Liberia and Afghanistan and, when that fatal mortar exploded, in Libya.
Sebastian Junger, who worked with Hetherington on the celebrated doc Restrepo, paints a biographical profile that often speaks eloquently to the unique nature both of his late friend and of war itself. Helping him immeasurably are Hetherington’s superb images, the best of which transform action into reflection, isolating still points in the bloody frenzy of combat, moments that are touchingly personal yet harrowingly resonant.
In West Africa, the photos show us the child soldiers, thin and bedraggled yet posturing like men. In Afghanistan, they reveal the American soldiers, burly and tattooed yet acting like children, no more so than in an extraordinary series that captures them sleeping – quiet for once, their armour down, faces serene and bodies curled inward, just vulnerable boys awaiting their fate.