Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
A Photographer's Chronicle of the Iraq War
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot gathers the best of Gilbertson’s photographs, chronicling America’s early battles in Iraq, the initial occupation of Baghdad, the insurgency that erupted shortly afterward, the dramatic battle to overtake Falluja, and ultimately, the country’s first national elections. No Western photojournalist has done as much sustained work in occupied Iraq as Gilbertson, and this wide-ranging treatment of the war from the viewpoint of a photographer is the first of its kind. Accompanying each section of the book is a personal account of Gilbertson’s experiences covering the conflict. Throughout, he conveys the exhilaration and terror of photographing war, as well as the challenges of photojournalism in our age of embedded reporting. But ultimately, and just as importantly, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot tells the story of Gilbertson’s own journey from hard-drinking bravado to the grave realism of a scarred survivor. Here he struggles with guilt over the death of a marine escort, tells candidly of his own experience with post-traumatic stress, and grapples with the reality that Iraq—despite the sacrifice in Iraqi and American lives—has descended into a civil war with no end in sight.
A searing account of the American experience in Iraq, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is sure to become one of the classic war photography books of our time.
"A stunning new book. . . Thankfully, we have writers and photographers like Gilbertson, now working primarily on contract for the New York Times, who have not given up on the idea of real reporting. The photographs in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot convey a clear-eyed fidelity to the facts. . . The lurid and the ludicrous share equal space, often to dizzying effect. . . This is the kind of reporting we so desperately need: free of false bravura, free of agenda, free of inflated urgency. . . For this reason, the book belongs less with other histories of the war than on the same shelf with Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms and Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five. This is not trumped-up news coming live from Iraq but the straight story with harrowing snapshots of the American soul. When future generations look back and wonder where we went wrong, where we failed ourselves and them, it will not be hours of television and radio broadcasts that they pore over. It will be a select few texts, and Gilbertson's book deserves to be one of them. He has accepted his charge and climbed the cliff-top. He has told the truth and does not balk."
Association of American Publishers: PROSE Book Award