You can’t just flip through James Hill’s new book, “Somewhere Between War and Peace,” for a quick survey of his 20-years-and-counting career
The moments of violence hardened me without my realizing, returning me a stranger to those that I loved. I could still marvel at the infinite whiteness of the Arctic or the golden warmth of an Italian afternoon, but in my dreams, again and again, I would find myself being pulled to an edge beyond which there was nothing. I would fall and fall before waking in my bed or sleeping bag, soaked in sweat and startled to be alive.
A few hours before President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia spoke at a ceremony in the Bolshoy Ice Dome in Sochi in February, marking a year to the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics, I was watching pensioners strip to the waist and bask in the midday sunshine on a beach a few miles from the Olympic Park.
For Russians, an Old Victory Lives On
At first, some of the Russian veterans of World War II portrayed by James Hill look too small and frail to bear the weight of all those medals arrayed over their breasts.
On Victory Day, celebrated May 9 each year, many veterans gather at Gorky Park in Moscow. James Hill, a contract photographer for The New York Times in Russia, attended the gathering in 2006, set up a canvas background and took portraits in this impromptu studio of field nurses, snipers, anti-aircraft gunners, wireless operators and partisans.
Far from the Kremlin and its rising military and economic ambitions lie remnants of a seemingly eternal, agrarian Russia. James Hill was there with his camera.
“What they described in newspapers and magazines — it was all rubbish,” said Anatoly Rasskazov, the station photographer who was there that day.
“The ruins that I photographed from the ground and the upper part were retouched so it couldn’t be seen that there was a ray coming from there, that everything was glowing,” he said. “Just a ruin. So as not to get the public up in arms.”
Here. Make sure you check out the multimedia gallery.