Shots: An American Photographer's Journal 1967-1972
By David Fenton
(Earth Aware/Mandala, 160 pages)
In a book filled with striking and provocative photos, perhaps the most striking and provocative is a shot of demonstrators behind a barricade during Nixon's 1969 inauguration. A small crowd of smiling, inspired young people is collectively flipping the bird to the President. It's unlikely that Nixon saw them, but in Nixon, these people saw the end of their country's greatness and wanted nothing more than to let him know how damaging he was to America. And that's the primary thread that runs through Shots, a stunning collection of images that David Fenton took as a news photographer in the very middle of the "revolution." That word "revolution" is an accurate description of the confluence of anti-war sentiment, the mobilization of civil rights battles (not only for blacks, but also for Latinos, women and gays) and a general sense that our nation was drowning in the brackish water of institutional violence, near-fascist corruption and deep-seated inequality. His position as a young photographer shooting for the "underground press" allowed Fenton to brilliantly capture the revolutionaries in action. From the angry, marching masses and the soldiers sent to stop them to lightning-rod spokesmen like Bobby Seale and Abbie Hoffman, Shots is a glorious visual retelling of a peculiar moment in American history that, despite the insistence of red-state/blue-state polemicists, has (unfortunately) yet to be repeated.