“Relentless Absurdity”: An Army Photographer’s Censored Images

Ben Brody’s book has no narrative, because, from the perspective of an American infantryman in Baghdad, the war had none.

In his new book, “Attention Servicemember,” Ben Brody recounts being sent to a Rotary Club luncheon near Fort Stewart, Georgia, to present a slide show of pictures he had taken as an Army combat photographer in Iraq. Brody’s mandate overseas had been “to photograph the war in a way that justified its existence and exaggerated its accomplishments.” At the luncheon, however, he found himself telling the Rotarians about an American soldier killed by friendly fire and showing them images of night raids and executions. “I wanted them to feel the murderous heat and arbitrary death and relentless absurdity that came with my job,” Brody writes. The effort failed: “No one stopped eating during my talk, and when I was done they clapped a little.” With “Attention Servicemember,” Brody tries again. This time, he will make you stop eating. He might make you stop breathing and blinking.

Endgame: Afghanistan - Photographs and text by Ben Brody | LensCulture

“The war stories I know don’t usually have a hero, or even a good guy

I have been working in Afghanistan for over four years, documenting the American experience there through photography and writing. Rather than taking a strictly news-oriented approach, I have sought to read between the war's lines—and found relentless absurdity and alienation.