Testament (powerHouse Books, 2014), the new collection of images and writings by the late photojournalist Chris Hondros, is a labor of love by many people who were close to him. In 160 pages, it incorporates images he took in Kosovo, Liberia, the West Bank, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Libya from the 1990s until his death in Misrata, Libya, in April 2011. Some of his best-known images are here, such as his photo of an exultant child soldier with a grenade launcher in Liberia, and his haunting image of a little girl screaming in terror after her parents were killed and her siblings injured when U.S. soldiers fired on their car at a checkpoint near Tal Afar, Iraq. But the book also includes numerous images Hondros took behind the frontlines. Many of these depict the human impact of conflict: a terrified group of women holding children as soldiers enter their home; kids playing soccer while a tower of fire rises above the treeline behind them.
Testament includes reflections Hondros wrote during down time between actions while he was embedded with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. In these he shared his thoughts on the meanings of the conflicts he was covering, his occasional frustration with the inability to convey in photographs what he witnessed, and his wonder that he would find himself “hanging on the side of a mountain” in Afghanistan or other spots. In one, written in 2005 on a Marine base near Fallujah, he described fingering his iPod loaded with classical music, trying to find “the music that best conveys the tragedy of Iraq.” He noted that the previous week, while sleeping under the stars in a remote desert of Anbar Province, “I listened to Beethoven’s cavatina as I stared up into a black sea sprinkled liberally with the lights of the cosmos. And I felt, for just a moment, that I almost understood why I was there and what it all means.”
Sales of Testament benefit the Chris Hondros Fund which supports photojournalism and education through fellowships and awards. A silent auction to benefit the Fund will be held May 7 in New York City. For information check the website of the Chris Hondros Fund.