Reviewed by J Craddock

Our World Now presents a visual record of a year in the life of our world. Taken by photographers across the globe from January to December, this book takes you on a journey through 2012, with all of the memorable, wonderful, tragic and amazing events captured in stunning perspective. More than just a collection of photos however these images tell the story of the state of the world in the turbulent and transformative year that was 2012, offering a crucial record of some of the most important events of our time, the inspiring and the heartbreaking, the uplifting and the melancholy, the joyous and the tragic, the beautiful and the cruel. Importantly, thanks to the skill and bravery of its photographers, the book does not shirk from the darker and more horrific scenes that defined 2012, providing a hard-hitting reality that will not let readers forget the plight of others throughout this, at times, very difficult year, making Our World Now an even more vital resource for future generations.

Separated into four tri-monthly divisions, each section contains breathtaking photographs from a moment in that timeframe, all of which are beautifully presented, from full-page shots to collages, and all of which, to various degrees, arrest, move, and inspire. Whether showing the wonderful or the heart-rending, the photographs pay testament to the creativeness, skilfulness and, above all, boldness of the photographers. Brief descriptions outlining the location and scene, as well as the date and photographer, are collated on a separate page so as not to disrupt the power and beauty of the images. But, in truth, these pictures speak for themselves and perhaps have greatest effect when viewed as standalone portraits, as the producers of this text have realised. Never has the phrase a picture paints a thousand words been more true.

From the spectacle of the London Olympics to the devastation of the Arab Spring all of the major world events are covered, but so too are smaller events, including the Wall Game at Eton College and a car in the shape of a stiletto created in India to mark International Women’s Day. There are some truly harrowing pictures in the book, but these are merely a stark reminder of the times we live in. Were there not such horrific and cruel realities taking place these photos would never have been possible and perhaps the one thing that stands out about this book is the extent of these chilling pictures. Whether or not they are actually more numerous than the positive images, they certainly overwhelm them in their emotion and power, again a sad reflection of the modern world. Indeed, whilst the wonderful and beautiful moments of 2012 have been captured, it is the sombre and poignant pictures that resonate long after the book has been closed.

Whilst this is the sixth edition of Our World Now, there having been annual editions since 2008, it is the first which I have been made aware of and viewed and having done so I think the overall concept and project is both brilliant and vital. Not only do the individual editions offer superb visual records of a given year but together the volumes must certainly offer an eye-opening and telling history of our times, and by comparing the images between volumes we could get a sense of the ways in which our world is changing. Our World Now is a vital record of living history.

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