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not impressed. I've read "On Photography" and really enjoyed and see how well it has aged over time. But there are better contemporary reads that cover the same topic with better examples than "Regarding the Pain of Others." ex. Liisa Malkki, Leila Abu-lughod. I wouldn't recommend this.
This book will appeal greatly to psuedointellectuals, who will invariably write pretentious reviews about what an insightful and timely work this is. But for a book ostensibly about our relation to the suffering of others, this is an incredibly dispassionate and overanalytical book which, despite the title, is ultimately just a book about photography. In fact, as far as I can tell, Sontag just retreads her ideas on the nature of subject and viewer in photography that have been published elsewhere. I have great respect for her, but this isn't her best work, especially given the subject she claims to be addressing. Only a hardened intellectual could write a book consisting of a series of disconnected, too-clever observations on the nature of images and call it "Regarding the Pain of Others."
In the end, I found the individual arguments somewhat interesting, and she is clearly very smart, but the book ultimately adds up to very little more than a souless disappointment. Such a deep subject, potentially, and all we get is cocktail party speculation on the nature of images and memory. Sontag is many things, but a qualified cognitive scientist isn't one of them, so I'm not quite sure why she even ventures into some of the speculation she does. One gets the impression from reading this book that Sontag could see an image of a suffering individual, and it would illicit not so much visceral reaction as obsessive theorizing.