Peter van Agtmael’s Decoding of American Violence

On the eve of Donald Trump’s Inauguration, I rode the train from New York to Washington, D.C., with a book tucked in my bag like a private salve. The volume—a new photo collection by Peter van Agtmael, called “Buzzing at the Sill”—doesn’t radiate comfort in any obvious sense. Its cover is ominous: a copper image of a buzzard with its wings outstretched; we learn, from the book’s text, that the bird banged at the window of a U.S. military hospital in Texas, where soldiers, badly burned in Iraq and Afghanistan, struggled to recuperate