One of the opening spreads (c) Don McCullin

Don McCullin’s incredible book Is Anyone Taking Any Notice? (ISBN 0-262-13084), originally published as The Destruction Business in 1971, is a heart breaking compilation of his work from Europe, Asia, India and Africa. As the first few pages open, the sequencing and pace of the book take hold, as some almost romantic landscapes are played off against tight crops of people that feature further into the volume, their faces and expressions removed from the wider context supplied by the original frame.

It is ‘A book of photographs and comments by Donald McCullin With phrases drawn from the 1970 Nobel Lecture by Alexander Solzhenitsyn’, to quote directly from one of its opening pages.

McCullin was born in 1935 in the UK, and following his national service photographed for The Observer after selling them  a picture following the murder of a police officer. Many of his later, and most famous conflict pictures, were made while commisioned by The Sunday Times.

There is a long interview transcript on the BBC website, and you can also listen to the interview there as well:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/johntusainterview/mccullin_transcript.shtml.

McCullin is often referred to as reclusive following his departure from photographing wars, so it is good to find long pieces like this. Until I read this interview, I was never aware of his connection to Brandt (well, I had probably been told, but then had it slip out of my hopeless memory).

Two other books by McCullin sit on the shelf here, one with photographs from only a few years ago. It is exciting to see this strong worker continuing, pushing on into new work and showing us things that happened in front of him.

I found a pit

with dead men in it

one of them

had his foot blown off

he had tried to bandage it

They stayed there

and died together

as if they’d been

placed in a bed

and were quite peacefully

sleeping side by side

Other Vietnamese

and Cambodian soldiers

put a hankerchief

over their face

looked in the pit and

looked back smiling

“Good job, it’s the enemy”

I put a camera

to my face and

photographed

These are my

two lovers in repose

this is my family

it’s the same face

it’s the same face

it’s no different from

Dachau or Auschwitz

Two soldiers in pit (c) Don McCullin

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