A biography of war correspondent Tim Hetherington (1970–2011), who died during a firefight in Libya while documenting the revolution there.
Huffman (Sultana: Surviving the Civil War, Prison, and the Worst Maritime Disaster in American History, 2009, etc.) recounts the career arc of British-born and -educated Hetherington while simultaneously providing insights into the mentality of war photographers during the past century. Hetherington seemed to win trust wherever he traveled and with whomever he collaborated professionally. For the most part, he did not parachute into war zones to shoot potentially prizewinning photographs and then depart quickly. Instead, he remained to document long-term problems as well as personally assist the victims of war. That characteristic became evident most prominently in the West African nation of Liberia, where Hetherington returned year after year to track war criminals and solidify relationships with rebel leaders. To casual observers, Hetherington seemed fearless, but to those who knew him well, he admitted to being frightened in a variety of dangerous situations. In the words of Sebastian Junger, Hetherington was a "bright spirit drawn to dark places." Huffman also chronicles the Hetherington-Junger collaboration on the documentary film Restrepo, which was nominated for an Academy Award. Like so much of Hetherington's other visual projects, Restrepo delved deeply into the relationship between young men and war. Though he could have settled in England or the United States or other relatively peaceful locales after making his mark as an artistic war photographer, Hetherington chose to continue to travel to dangerous locales, worrying his family and friends while also assuaging their concerns with his sunny nature.
A first-rate biographical portrait that also deserves accolades for its insights into the minds of adventure-seeking photographers.