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Look at the U.S.A.

A Diary of War and Home

Peter van Agtmael


A chronicle of post-9/11 America, at war and at home, as seen through the lens of one of Magnum Photos’ leading photographers: a compelling and ground-shaking meditation on war and society

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LOOK AT THE U.S.A. is a searingly honest portrait of post-9/11 America by Magnum photographer Peter van Agtmael. Broadly chronological, images from the front line of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are interspersed with conflicts at home, from protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline to the storming of the Capitol, and layered with van Agtmael’s personal reflections, critique and interviews with those he has encountered along the way.

Exploring race, class, nationalism, the mythology of war and America’s self-image, LOOK AT THE U.S.A. is by turns damning, surreal, moving, confronting, ironic – and always attuned to the human cost.

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'A weighty record of two decades of fallout from Helmand Province to Harrisburg, Illinois … As Obama gives way to Trump and to Biden, Look at the USA catches up to our present moment'
British Journal of Photography

'Threaded through with often deeply personal, self-questioning reflections, it is also a fraught conversation with himself about the nature and thorny ethics of his vocation. Van Agtmael’s American images suggest the simmering discontent that has since been leveraged by Donald Trump and a Republican party in thrall to his inflammatory rhetoric'

'Alongide reflection on the ethics of his vocation, van Agtmael’s photos… are a disconcerting examination of the faultlines that have defined America’s troubled society'
Financial Times

'It’s impossible not to be purposefully moved by this 352-page brick of a book. Moved by the contradictions and emotions, humour and strangeness, frailty and fragility, the humanity of it, of the people photographed and the way in which Peter expresses his own flaws as narrator'
Amateur Photographer

'Almost 200 photographs feature in Look at the USA, which can be a difficult read at times, with so many images of war and conflict. But van Agtmael’s use of diary entries alongside the images provides some useful context and allows the photographer to zoom out from the pictures to offer a wider view to the reader'
Digital Camera World

'The weight of war on the American psyche is recorded through the lens of brooding photojournalist Peter van Agtmael'

'Peter van Agtmael shares a harrowing personal account of the post-9/11 era, at war and at home'
Eye of Photography

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 24.2 x 19.0 cm

Extent: 352 pp

Illustrations: 186

Publication date: 4 April 2024

ISBN: 9780500027028

About the Author

Peter van Agtmael is an American photographer based in Paris, and has been a full member of Magnum Photos since 2013. His previous books include Disco Night Sept 11 and Sorry for the War. Van Agtmael is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship, the W. Eugene Smith Fund Grant, the ICP Infinity Award for Young Photographer, the LUMIX FREELENS Award, the Aaron Siskind Grant and several World Press Photo Awards. He has been a mentor in the Arab Documentary Photography Program in Beirut since 2014.