Thursday, January 9, 2014

My First Book Review of the Year- "Here I Am"

Photo of Tim Hetherington,, use granted by the photo owner, attribution to Michael von Bergen

Greetings All:

I recently read Here I Am by Alan Huffman.  It is the story of an amazing man, Tim Hetherington.  I picked it up without a whole lot of thought at the Bettendorf Library, an impulse checkout, if you will.  I vaguely remember hearing about Tim when he was killed in Libya in 2011.  However, this book tells the complete story of an incredibly talented and courageous man.  Sebastian Junger sums it up with this quote:  "I don't think I fully understood how brave my good friend Tim Hetherington was until reading these pages."

Tim struck out to document the tyranny that was going on in the world in places that I'd barely heard of and really did not pay a whole lot of attention to.  I recall that many years ago at The Airliner in Iowa City, my friend Jaret told me, and not in a mocking tone, "Jeno, the world does not want to be saved."  The more I hang out on this planet, I more evidence piles up to support my friend's point.  And yet, there was Tim, with his camera, and his conscious, to record what he saw.

And he saw a lot.  From various stints in Africa and Afghanistan, Tim recorded the horror and beauty of human interaction.  This was not some idealist.  Tim might have very well been my friend Jaret's star witness in a trial in the court of public opinion about the world not wanting to be saved.  Just a quick perusal of Tim's work would be exhibits A thru double KK to support that point.

And yet...

Ant yet Tim captured the humanity of people in the very worst of situations.  His photo essay entitled, Sleeping Soldiers was a beautiful and jarringly honest visual of the human side of war.  I went on line and watched the collection he put together.  It strikes me as about the most honest thing I have seen come out (from a media standpoint) of the past years of war.  I was struck by the absence of pillow cases for the Soldiers.  Just one missing regular item these young men did not have.

I could write another 1000 words easy on this guy but I am forcing myself to be more disciplined in my writing, shooting for 500 words per blog post.  With that, I am going to punch out of this story but not before I mention the tragic circumstances of Tim's death.  Long story short- he was killed by a mortar round that impacted where he was in Libya in 2011.  The cynic might claim that he had pushed his luck once too many times.  I will say that he was practicing his vocation and sadly died for it.

Please do not view this post as hero worship of Tim Hetherington.  That is not my intent.  I also have, intentionally, referred to him by his first name.  I do not do this out of a sense of assumed familiarity but out of respect.  From reading this book and a bunch of other articles, this guy was about as down to earth and genuine as they come.  I like to think that he'd be cool, if not insist, I use his first name in this post.  So I will.

Here's a book that tells the tale of an amazing person and his life's work, his vocation.  I highly recommend it and it will be back at the Bettendorf Library in a couple of days.  If you do read it, please drop me a line and let me know what you think of it, thanks.

The links below include one to the Amazon site where you can order the book in hard cover.  There is no Kindle version yet.  There is also a link to a website his parents set up.  Unfortunately, Mr. and Mrs. Hetherington have joined an unwanted organization of parents who've buried their children, killed in a war zone.  Their message is moving and I can tell that through their grief they are incredibly proud of their son.  And with good reason.

Be well my friends,


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