Throughout the War on Terror, there has been a knowledge gap between the civilian population and the service members who have gone to Iraq and Afghanistan. One reason could be the relatively small number of Americans who serve in the military or the fact that those places are so foreign they are nearly inconceivable unless you have been there. Ed Darack, a photographer, journalist, and cartographer, has covered the war in both countries extensively, as well as military training at home. His new book “War Moments,” is helping to diminish the gap between civilians and service members. Through a fusion of photography and narrative journalism, Darack is hoping to create a piece of journalism that is relatable to every American. I spoke with Darack about his new book recently, and about what he hopes to accomplish with “War Moments.”

NEWSREP: Ed, What exactly is “War Moments?”

Darack: It’s a compilation of 118 of my favorite pictures taken in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as of training. I’ve been embedded with many different units and I have had the opportunity to get a lot of images that most people don’t normally get to see. Each picture has a companion piece to accompany the photos. I wrote what I feel was the most compelling story associated with each image.

N: Your first image in the book is of a Marine named Jeremy Sandvick Monroe. It’s a very striking photo, but I was heartbroken when I read the accompanying piece and learned that Jeremy had been killed a few years later in Iraq. Can you tell me more about that specific image?

D: I really liked Jeremy a lot; we were pretty good friends in the sense that we spent a lot of time together in war. Everyone loved Jeremy. He was a great guy and it’s just one of my all-time favorite photographs. But when I paint an image of war with specific vignettes, [losing friends] is part of it. You meet friends and you meet enough people who are deployed and you’re going to lose friends, because that’s the profession. I wanted that tragic fact to come across and be very apparent.

Darack: Found on page 8 of “War Moments,” this is Jeremy Sandvick Monroe, a SAW
(squad automatic weapon) gunner and member of 1st Platoon, Company E, 2nd
Battalion of the 3rd Marine Regiment. This is one of my favorite
photographs: He’s partially silhouetted, but you can still make out
foreground detail. I shot it during a combat operation deep in the Hindu
Kush of eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar Province. Photograph courtesy of Ed Darack.

N: Was that your objective in writing the book? To illustrate the realities of the War on Terror?

D: The objective is to grant a really lucid window into modern warfare. This is what it’s like. With “War Moments,” you can see it through the images and you can learn about it through the stories. While nonfiction books lack pictures, picture books lack context and information, so this is an amalgamation of the two. It’s a fusion of visual works and narratives. It’s much more than a who-what-where-when-why caption. It’s more lucid and offers a greater understanding.

Found on page 18 of “War Moments,” this was one of the most incredible photo
shoots of my life! I was in a Marine Corps KC-130J Super Hercules, miles
over the Al Anbar Province of Iraq. Just before two F/A-18D Hornets came
up to refuel, the crew of the Super Hercules dropped the rear ramp and I
walked to the very edge and got some incredible photographs with desert
dusk light in the background. Photograph courtesy of Ed Darack.

N: What’s one of your favorite things about publishing this book?