By early 2006, the war in Iraq was entering its fourth year. No weapons of mass destruction had been found. Tens of thousands of Iraqis were reported injured and dead, more than two thousand American soldiers had been killed, and rates of depression and suicide were rising among American military personnel. Yet all the while, Congress and the media debated what the conflict was costing America in image and treasure, and costing the president in popularity. Troubled by the public's growing indifference to the ongoing horrors in Iraq and critical of his own inaction, acclaimed photographer Eugene Richards began documenting the lives of Americans who had been profoundly affected by the Iraq war.
Bold and epic in scope, War Is Personal is a compilation of fifteen real-life stories that speak of what it means to go to war, to sacrifice, to wait, to hope, to mourn, to remember, to live on when those you love are gone. With heartbreaking photographs and texts, Richards records the funeral of twenty-two-year-old Army sergeant Princess Samuels and profiles veterans such as Tomas Young, who was shot in the spine and paralyzed four days into his tour in Iraq. Richards documents parents such as Carlos Arredondo, who grew so distraught upon hearing of his son's death in combat that he attacked and destroyed a Marine Corps van, severely injuring himself, and Nelida Bagley, whose massively brain-injured son requires nearly round-the-clock care.
Uncompromising and sure to be controversial, War Is Personal is a study of lives in upheaval and a chronicle of greatly differing attitudes, experiences, and understandings of what it means for Americans to go to war.