For the past 25 years, Henry Rollins has photographed the most desolate and inhospitable corners of the Earth, and his powerful vision has been harnessed in this photographic essay. Though he is known for the raw power of his expression, Rollins has shown that the greatest statements can be made with the simplest of acts: to bear witness; to be present. This collection is an invitation to do the same. The book pairs Rollins’ visceral photographs—taken in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Nepal, North Korea, Northern Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Siberia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam—with writings that provide context and political commentary and thereby magnify the impact of the images. This is a visual testimony of anger, suffering, resilience in the face of tragedy, and the quiet, stronger forces of healing, solidarity, faith, and joy.
Rollins writer, TV host, and front man of Black Flag and the Rollins Band provides mostly photos of oppressed, poor, and marginalized people in the developing world. Each portrait of suffering is accompanied by a mini-essay, sometimes an attempt to get "into the head" of each subject, sometimes Rollins's personal reaction. Rollins can express real empathy, but more often the text devolves into shallow analyses and trite prose ("The human story is not a new one"). Also, a real disconnect occasionally exists between a photo and Rollins's reaction to it; for example, a shot of a prince's palace in Saudi Arabia is accompanied by words describing an anxiety attack. Some of Rollins's photos are undeniably compelling, such as two of a supine man in Thailand dragging himself along a street but they are overwhelmed by the lackluster text.