Read Beyond Bullets: A Photo Journal of Afghanistan by Rafal Gerszak Dawn Hunter Online


Award-winning photographer Rafal Gerszak spent a year embedded with the American military in Afghanistan, where he used his camera to document everyday life in the war-torn country. While there, he developed a deep affection for the land and its people, and he later returned on his own. Despite the dangers around him, he continued taking photos, exposing the plight of thatAward-winning photographer Rafal Gerszak spent a year embedded with the American military in Afghanistan, where he used his camera to document everyday life in the war-torn country. While there, he developed a deep affection for the land and its people, and he later returned on his own. Despite the dangers around him, he continued taking photos, exposing the plight of that besieged country.Framed by journal entries that relate his experiences on two levels—as a foreigner looking for a deeper connection to a country that has stirred him, and as a journalist looking for another side to the story—BEYOND BULLETS addresses the volatile situation in Afghanistan with sensitivity and profound insight. Through Gerszak’s lens, readers can see the shattered aftermath of military attacks and dismal hospitals and refugee camps, but they can also experience the vibrant activity of life in the markets, at home and on the Muslim day of rest....

Title : Beyond Bullets: A Photo Journal of Afghanistan
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781554512928
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 128 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Beyond Bullets: A Photo Journal of Afghanistan Reviews

  • Mitch
    2019-02-23 04:10

    I really liked this book for many reasons. One of the reasons is that in the beginning it gives you the oppurtunity to see the North American side of war. I also like this book because after seeing the North American side, you get to see the Afghanistan civilian side and how war affects their everyday life. I would definately recommend this book to all males and some females.

  • Barbara
    2019-03-11 03:21

    After spending time in Afghanistan with American troops, this book's photographer returns to take photographs of civilian life. Alongside the large, full-page photographs, he includes a journal describing his thoughts and feelings as he falls under the spell of the country, even while being aware of its shortcomings. The book also contains short bits of informational text explaining important concepts or terms such as the Taliban or the tenets of Muslim faith or even the presence of NATO forces in the country. Several of the images are heart-breaking while others celebrate the joy of time spent with family and friends. As I finished the book, though, I wanted to know more, much more, about the stories behind these photographs, stories that are often only hinted at here. For instance, an image of a soldier sitting near a bullet-riddled Humvee causes the reader to ponder his near-death experience only to be brought up short by a postscript stating that the soldier later committed suicide while on leave. While I felt partly enlightened, I also felt frustrated at what wasn't included. Still, if this photo journal is intended to remind readers of the human cost of war, it does so effectively.

  • Celina
    2019-03-11 09:21

    What I really like about this is that it shows 2 sides of life. Life as a solider and life as a civilian. It got me wanting to know more about life in Afghanistan and the countries history. This non-fiction book taught me a few things I didn't know. It's not basis and is great for people who want to learn more about an Afgan's life

  • Savanah
    2019-03-19 05:19

    "Beyond Bullets: A Photo Journal of Afghanistan" takes readers on a journey through the lives of war-torn Afghanistan's citizens. Real life photographs of the people's struggles, triumphs, and everyday activities are all represented in this haunting book. It is easy to think that war is far away, which is why it is so important that we all look at the horrible consequences and resiliance of the human spirit afterwards. This book is graphic, so it may not be best suited for younger kids, but when they are old enough to understand war and what is happening around the world it would be a great way to show them what has happened. As a teacher, I would be careful about having this book around the classroom because some parents may not want to expose their children to the idea of war if they do not already know. Overall this is a touching book that makes you feel grateful for what you have and pray for the people who have to endure these situations.

  • Aisha Perreira
    2019-03-21 05:08

    Author Rafal Gerszak took two trips to Afghanistan. These trips were not due to deployment with the military, but personal trips. One trip was taken as civilian attached to a military movement as a photographer who captured the events of his trip with the military. The second trip was taken as a civilian to explore the lives of those in Afghanistan. Both times, Gerszak took up close and personal photos, some of which he risked his life for.The experiences Gerszak shares through this book is amazing, especially with how close he gets with the military. What I also liked about the book is the side blurbs that Gerszak adds, telling of what he has discovered afterwards. Overall, It was a great book.

  • Desiree
    2019-02-27 01:10

    The author's minimizing of animal abuse and acting like dog fights were a jolly ole time was bothersome to me. Compassion for animals at a young age usually leads to compassion in all aspects of life. Imagine what a place of conflict could be with more compassion...for it's women, girls, animals, sick, and poor...

  • Cheriee Weichel
    2019-03-07 04:23

    One of my library monitors told me his stepdad had written a book on Afghanistan and so I asked if he would loan it to me to read.I received it the next day. I started browsing the first page and knew in those few moments that this was not a book to peruse distractedly. Already I was about to cry. I asked for permission to take the book home so I could read it at my leisure. Last evening I sat down and read it.Rafal Gerszak is a photojournalist who has been to Afghanistan a number of times. This book reflects those journeys and reveals multiple perspectives on the conflict there. It is a difficult read.The first part of the book deals with his experiences while embedded with a platoon on the front lines. The writing is simple but powerful. His description of travelling in a Humvee in the heat puts us right there, "it's like wearing full hockey gear and sitting in a sauna--times ten. The armor we wear doesn't breathe at all, plus we wear helmets and gloves (which are fire retardant so that, in case of an explosion, we don't burn our hands; plastic gloves would melt to our skin.)" And that is just the beginning. In this section Gerszak takes us through ambushes, searches through private homes, military hospitals, humanitarian aid drops and rocket attacks. When a child dies despite heroic efforts of people on all sides of the conflict, we see clearly that "This girl had nothing to do with the conflict, but everything to do with what's wrong in Afghanistan."The second part of the book reflects Gerszak's time spent with Afghani people. There are some truly sublime moments - like the day spent at Qargha lake on the Muslim day of rest. What I learned from this section is that in the midst of the hell of war, people try to live ordinary lives just like you and me. There are aspects that will break your heart: life in a refugee camp, the hardships of medical volunteers, watching children die in a hospital, a conversation with a suicide bomber, child labour, and the situation for women and girls.My aging eyes had a bit of trouble with the contrast between the page colour and the font, but it wasn't overwhelming. I appreciated the boxes on some pages giving me additional information to help me put Gerszak's experiences into context.The content is heavy and disturbing, but an eye opening read. I will most certainly get a copy of this book for our library.This review is from my blog at

  • Mary
    2019-03-15 07:58

    The photographs are remarkable, but it took me awhile to actually read this book. It is structured with a large color photo on the left of each spread, and a brief essay describing it and the circumstances of its taking on the next page or two, often accompanied by smaller photos. Some of the pictures and captions are distressing. One that especially got to me was of a father holding his dying little daughter, having struggled to get her to a field hospital. In the accompanying essay describing the child's death, Mr. Gerszak says, "Today it didn't matter what uniform anyone was wearing or what god we prayed to. Sorrow connected us and stripped everything else away." That's certainly true, and to look at this picture knowing the little girl was dead, or about to die, was somehow quite horrible. Also, Mr. Gerszak seems to be confirming a prejudice here - that Muslims, like the father in the photo, pray to a different god than Christians. That's an oversimplification at best. Another shocking image, reproduced on the cover, is of a young soldier who has just survived an ambush, viewed through the shattered glass of the jeep. We learn that this young man later committed suicide.But here's the thing: this isn't just a book of painful images taken by a journalist embedded with Western troops. It starts out that way, but Mr. Gerszak realizes that he has not presented the Afghan civilians' stories as he would have like to, and, in the second half of his book, he returns, alone, to get a better sense of who the Afghans are. This makes "Beyond Bullets" a very personal book. We learn a great deal about life in Afghanistan as we witness Mr. Gerszak struggle to understand their lives and their suffering - as well as their joys. In the last section, he also describes his own PSTD and his difficulties in adjusting to civilian life at home in Canada.This brief book covers a lot of territory, morally and emotionally. And Mr. Gerszak's photographs are powerful. Not an easy book to read, but a necessary purchase for every library serving junior high and high school age students.

  • Allison
    2019-03-03 04:20

    When photographer Rafal Gerszak decided to go to Afghanistan, he did not realize that he would be inspired to go back again and again. After a year of being embedded with the military to photograph and record the effects of the war there, Gerszak realized that he his focus had changed. He needed to capture the lives of the Afghani people as they struggled to live in a war-torn country. As Gerszak writes in his journal, he wanted to record what it is like "to live every dat with the war on your doorstep."Through his stunning photographs and journal entries, Gerszack is able to achieve his goal. His writing style is conversational, making this an easy read. He shows how he was able to build relationships with the military and citizens alike, and he successfully avoids getting overly political. Call-outs throughout the book help to inform the reader about various groups, religious and social customs in the regions. Gerszack also points to several maps embedded in the pages that help ground the reader and gives a sense of scope. He also organizes his journal and photographs by region or district, being careful to describe the types of people who live there each time.I feel as though there is a bit of an unintentional bias in this book, which is why I only gave it 3 stars. Gerszak's reflections tend to be fairly pro-military, which is understandable, but his writing often appears to generalize the Afghani people. As an example, the tone in the early chapters seems to assume that all citizens are insurgents. Gerszack does not provide much context and makes some leaps and accusations that I found troubling. I think it would make a great companion to other materials on this region, as Gerszak's likely unintentional bias paints an incomplete vision of Afghanistan and the war there.

  • Rebekahj
    2019-03-16 05:14

    so I've been reading this book this week. and its weally on Afghanistan and there life. so his a photographer. and in the page I read today was page 74 to 99 and he went to a lot of hospitality places. there where a lot of people who had listed there family's there siblings lots of stuff and that don't have much but that still have hope. some have found homes and a roof over there heads some are still finding a new life.

  • Kimberly
    2019-02-27 03:58

    Since I'm doing my Around The World Challenge I thought that this would be a great book to read as it takes place in Afghanistan. This is a photo journal of sorts based on what photographer Rafael Gerzak experienced during his 15 month deployment in Afghanistan and what happened after.The first half of the book depicts some of the events that took place while he got deployed in Afghanistan with a unit for 15 months. He gives the readers a look into his life while he was there by including wonderful photographs and to aid him and he provided captions as well as little "journal entries" about different things that he bore witness to.The second half of the book depicts the war in Afghanistan from the civilian point of view that he was able to experience after he finished his deployment and returned home to the U.S. for a period of time but he felt that he only captured half of the story when he was over there the first time. This part of the book I liked best. There is one thing that is often forgotten is that depsite there being a war happening, there are innocents still trying to eek out a meager existence and I fully appreciated this. This book is perfect for older kids and even teens, there are also interesting little sidebars that give additional information about Afghanistan. All in all it wasn't a bad book but it wasn't great those I wish the authors the best of luck in their future endeavors.*I recieved a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my free and honest review. ★ ★ ★

  • Jenn
    2019-03-19 01:06

    Paired with The Kite Runner: Rafal Gerszak shares his experiences in Afghanistan, first embedded within American forces on the front lines for several months and later as a journalist on his own in the country. This is a captivating book that I could not stop reading until I was all the way through it, despite some of the atrocities that Gerszak was faced with in his journey. It is certainly not an easy book to read with devastation of the Afghan people that is presented in this book. Situations dealing with the death of children and the constant danger of suicide bombers and IEDs prompted an emotional response that I couldn’t suppress. He also makes it very clear that no one who experiences the atrocities of war goes unaffected, as he admits that he has shown signs of PTSD himself. However, just when the story seems to be ending abruptly with the return of Gerszak and the troops he has accompanied to the safety of their homelands, Gerszak decides to return to Afghanistan in order to tell the other story of the Afghan people - the story of survival despite war on their doorsteps each day, of the hope for change and peace. Gerszak does an effective job of providing the reader with another look at the Afghan people and the understanding that we are not quite as different as we may think we are. Although the emotional factor would likely prevent me from putting this book in the hands of middle school students, I feel it is a must-have for any high school library.

  • Madison
    2019-03-15 07:57

    Beyond Bullets is amazing because it give incredible insight into the lives of the Afghan people and the war in Afghanistan. This book is a photo journal by Rafal Gerszak with the help of Dawn Hunter. This book was compiled after Gerszak time with the American Army in Afghanistan followed by another trip in which he was able to document civilian life. The photographs and first-hand accounts he provides gives you amazing insight into the Army’s culture in times of war. You see the culture that is imbedded in this way of life. Phrases they use, attire, things they need to know, where they sleep and what they eat. Furthermore, the second part of the book focuses on what life is like and the perspective of the war from the citizens of Afghanistan. The photographs themselves were able to depict all of these qualities authentically because they were done so well to capture the emotion and truth of the people and moments happening during the Afghan war. I think this book does an incredible job at depicting who the Afghan people really are as well as showing how the war affects their lives. I would use this book in the classroom possibly during a lesson on cultures because you can talk about the culture of the army as well as the Afghan people. I recommend this book for middle school and higher because of some violent graphics and written content.

  • Anastasia202
    2019-03-20 02:12

    This book is very inspiring to those who're not satisfied with life in Canada. It depicts and portrays the daily lives of Afghan civilians, including the injured and wounded, suicide bombers, doctors, nurses, everyday women and soldiers, and young boys and girls. It takes a lot of courage to interview people who've sacrificed themselves for the well-being of their countries (at this point, I related to patriotism during the American Revolution and the War of 1812). The wonderful author, Rafal Gerszak takes amazing photographs that catch the difficult moments of the citizens."I felt more a part of their community, more aware of their culture. I wanted people outside of Afghanistan to look at my photos and feel that way, too- for them to understand that there's so much more than war going on there," quotes Rafal. His emotional remarks and stories truly make you want to help those people, give them even more hope and inspiration to fight for what is theirs.I recommend this book for EVERYONE! Both adults and young kids will be amazed by Gerszak's stories, and learn more about the Afghan people and culture. I hope that we'll realize how fortunate we are to live in a safe and peaceful country.

  • Rhonda
    2019-03-02 02:16

    5 STARSThis is not my typical type of book. Can't say I loved it but I do understand a little bit more about Afganistan and it's people. I wish their was no need for any war.Rafel Gerszak spent a year enbedded with American troups. He saw and photographed the war. Then later he went back to Afganistan on his own to see how the life was during war and what they were like.This book was filled with pictures he took. Also had his journal and what was going on. plus facts about the people,politics.He showed the struggle the people with injuries from war. Doctors treating people without the drugs and supplies we take for granted. Showed how the women are and told more because its hard to get photographs of women. Showed some changes, somethings stay the same.Told how after a year enbedded than comming back to see the everyday life than going back with same American troups how much he had changed too.I was given an ebook of this book so it was a little hard sometimes to see all I wanted to see. These photos moved me and make me appreciate the freedoms that I and my girls have. Hard to see the suffering but it's good that we know the cost of wars and freedoms.

  • Elizabeth B
    2019-03-26 05:01

    The journal portion of this book is nicely done, providing a rarely seen glimpse into what this world is like. The photos are exquisite as well and not the same repetitive ones we see in newspapers or on the television. My problem, then, isn’t with the content of the book at all but more the chosen organization. This seems to be a melding of an adult picture book (although some of the writing has been done in such an elementary language that I’m not positive about that) with a memoir. I suppose that’s a creative approach but it just doesn’t seem to work here. I think a full memoir with a companion photography book would have been much more effective. As it is, I feel cheated by not enough photographs and an overabundance of journal entries. But, as I said, the journal entries are well done and could easily stand alone…so, the reader is somewhat cheated on both sides of the coin. A good book to check out at the library but not one I would be likely to recommend as currently published.ARC Galley Proof

  • T
    2019-03-01 04:07

    Overall I enjoyed this book. The format was quite good, and having the photographer himself write the narrative made the difference. That being said, I think an editor should have guided the flow of the stories a little better. In a few spots it seemed too tangential. The layout of the book was also quite nice. The publisher did a good job giving it the feel of a photo album. But since it did feel like a photo album, I expected more photographs. After having spent so much time with both the military and civilians in the area, I would like to have seen more of the pictures that didn't make it into the book. I received this book from the publisher as one of Goodreads giveaways. Would I have bought it myself after seeing it in a bookstore? Possibly. Would I borrow it from a friend who already had a copy? Most definitely.

  • Jesse Lasarte
    2019-03-05 09:02

    One of the things that makes Beyond Bullets a quality informational book is it has an appealing format. However, what I mostly enjoyed about this book is its enduring quality. One particular part of the book that has stuck with me is the picture of the Afghan woman sitting next to her injured child in the hospital. The photo perfectly captures the child’s face who can’t be older than six-years-old. As a teacher in training, I have worked around many children who are about the same age. I can’t help but get very emotional when I see the picture. The picture wears on my feelings in such a way that I can’t help but think how silly my “problems” are. The injured child in the picture must be so confused about life and its meaning.

  • Brandy
    2019-02-25 09:26

    As someone very interested in current events and our fighting troops, the idea of Beyond Bullets as a photo journal was a very interesting concept to me. The photojournalist has spent a huge amount of time in Afghanistan both as an imbedded photographer and with the civilian population. He documents his time spent in both endeavors with photos that are paired with journal-type text. The tone is very conversational and is not political. Great sidebars offer a lot of information on the history and culture of the Aghani people.I enjoyed the book; I just wish that there had been much more photos and a little less of the journal to this one.

  • April
    2019-03-06 05:07

    *I receieved this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. Thanks to Annick Press for listing this giveaway!*The pictures in this journal were amazing. They really capture not just the sights, but also the emotion. I also enjoyed the writing in it, hearing what the author did while he was there and some of the experiences he had. It's very emotional. My only complaint is that I wish it was longer. I wanted to see more pictures and read more if that's my only complaint then I'd definately say that this deserves 5 stars! A great book (or photo journal) should always leave you wanting more!

  • Jesse
    2019-02-26 04:23

    I found this book to be very timely in its content, and the photographs seem very true to every day life in Afghanistan. The book is formatted as a journal of the author with each entry centered around an individual photograph. This format works well, though the passage of time is hard to judge with the entries spaced sometimes montns apart. The writing easily engages the reader and additional sidebars with factual information about Afghanistan and its people and customs allow insight into a far-off place. Overall I enjoyed the book, but wasn't a huge fan of the format.

  • Jeanette Johnson
    2019-02-24 02:15

    Photographer Gerszak spent time embedded with Canadian troops in Afghanistan and them spent time with civilians there. This is his documentation of both sides of the war in Afghanistan. It is definitely non fiction and reads that way. Is writing is informative but lacks the depth of connecting his emotions to the reader. Even the carefully selected photos didn't seem to make that connection for me.

  • Salsabrarian
    2019-03-06 02:07

    A photojournalist first embeds with the military to record what is happening in Afghanistan and later returns to discover and understand the story of the Afghan people, their day-to-day lives, and the challenges they face in a long war-torn country. A very personal account that I see serving as an introduction for young people to learn about a newsmaking country, or to supplement other books about Afghanistan.

  • Mackenzie Beals
    2019-03-25 01:03

    This book won the Notable Book for a Global Society Award. It is told from the perspective of Rafal Gerszak, a photojournalist who lived Afghanistan and captured the life of the people, soldiers, and the war through his photographs. The content is very moving but is also extensive. There is more text in the book than photographs. Gerszak does a great job of capturing powerful images that depict life in Afghanistan.

  • Sarah
    2019-03-06 09:04

    This is book is made to look kind of like a children's book, but I feel it is more young adult. There are some pictures in here I wouldn't want my children seeing yet. I do feel this is something maybe 12 and up should read in a classroom to maybe understand what is going on in Afghanistan. But I also think adults can learn a little from this book too. It does show what a day is like over there for a solider and a civilian.

  • Andrea
    2019-03-21 09:24

    Hard to read, but extremely well done. A sobering picture into the reality of people in war zones - soldiers and civilians alike. Impressed on me once again that we so often don't know how good we have it, simply being able to go to work, school, church, the store, etc., without worrying about snipers or bombs. Again, recommended for middle school and up.

  • Mikayla
    2019-03-15 02:17

    This is a good story about being in Afghanistan during the war. I like this book because instead of just telling you whats going on you see it too. In this book the author gets to do many things a lot of people would be able to do. He is along side the soldiers during his time in Afghanistan and gets to experience what its like fighting in the war even though he isn't actually a soldier .

  • Carol
    2019-03-07 07:15

    This was really interesting. The author spent a year with American troops in Afghanastan. It says that it's a Photo Journal, but was more like a journal with photos. I wish that there were more photos and less text.

  • Jordan
    2019-03-17 09:15

    I thought this was a very good book it had alot of information and tells us what is happening over in Afghanistan. I found this book was hard to read but it wasent really in my interest. Over all this was a good book to read. I would recomend this book to someone who is interested in war.

  • Yonina
    2019-02-23 02:11

    I thought this was a very very good book.It shows another side of war and how it affects people lifes.I hope that teenager would stop acting likke war is cool and it game.It happens.It kills.This book gives ff a amazing messge.Over awesome book