I love photojournalism a lot and so have collected the majority of this series. These books came out from the mid 1970s until the early 2000s, and the Best of Photojournalism contest still goes on although they seem not to do the physical books anymore. This 15th volume covers the 1989 competition, which was a very strong year in terms of world events — the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Tienanmen Square protests and massacre, the overthrow of Ceausescu, etc. The book is split into different contest categories, with my favorites being the news/photo story related photos. The sports photos just don’t interest me very much, and neither do the science and natural history or illustration categories. Fortunately the bulk of the book is news related photos and it doesn’t hurt to look at some photos of athletes and animals. Highlights of this collection include Carol Guzy winning another well-deserved Newspaper Photographer of the Year award (this series introduced me to her work, which is amazing), and interesting photo stories on a mother trying to break the cycle of abuse, a boy being sent to military school, and a look at step families.
In comparison to the other three or four of these I’ve read, this volume felt thinner or less fleshed out. Other volumes had much more introductory material and more coherent layout work. While the quality of work here was uniformly excellent, and the fact that it was such an explosive news year made for interesting photos throughout, there was something missing in how this book was put together in comparison to others they’d done. Still worth a read and a keeper for the sake of having almost the entire run (some of these are rare since they’re all out of print, so this is a long-term collection). I think this series as a whole is a great tool to show the development and art of photojournalism, and a wonderful way to explore recent history. Often there are stories that have been forgotten or overlooked, so reading one of these is a fun way to find little research rabbit holes. Not sure that I’d recommend this buying this one in particular, as the ones from the 70s and early 2000s are better, but definitely recommended as a series.