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Beyond Bullets

A photo journal of Afghanistan

Interest Age: 12–18
Grade: 7+
Reading Age: 12+
Hardcover : 9781554512935, 128 pages, September 2011 , 8.54" x 11.24"


Award-winning photographer Rafal Gerszak spent a year embedded with the American military in Afghanistan, where he used his camera to document everyday life in the war-torn country. While there, he developed a deep affection for the land and its people, and he later returned on his own. Despite the dangers around him, he continued taking photos, exposing the plight of that besieged country.

Framed by journal entries that relate his experiences on two levels—as a foreigner looking for a deeper connection to a country that has stirred him, and as a journalist looking for another side to the story—Beyond Bullets addresses the volatile situation in Afghanistan with sensitivity and profound insight. Through Gerszak’s lens, readers can see the shattered aftermath of military attacks and dismal hospitals and refugee camps, but they can also experience the vibrant activity of life in the markets, at home and on the Muslim day of rest.

Featuring more than 40 of Gerszak’s photographs and at once harrowing and heartrending, Beyond Bullets is as illuminating as it is riveting.


  • Commended, South Asia Book Award, Highly Commended Book 2012
  • Long-listed, Garden State Teen Book Award 2012
  • Joint winner, Book of the Year Award, Foreword Reviews 2012
  • Commended, Information Book Award, Honor Title 2012
  • Commended, USBBY Outstanding International Books, Honor List 2012
  • Long-listed, Red Maple Award 2012
  • Winner, Eric Hoffer Award 2012
  • Long-listed, Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, YALSA 2012
  • Short-listed, Norma Fleck Award 2012
  • Joint winner, Nonfiction Honor List, VOYA 2012
  • Winner, Children’s Literature Roundtables of Canada Award 2012
  • Joint winner, YA Top Forty Titles, Pennsylvania School Librarians Association 2012
  • Joint winner, Best Bets List, Ontario Library Association 2012
  • Commended, Notable Books for a Global Society Book Award 2012
  • Joint winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, starred selection, Canadian Children’s Book Centre 2012


“Reading this book is a moving and eye-opening experience.”

- Canadian Children’s Book Centre, Fall/12

“Educationally informative and culturally sensitive . . . It will engage students to read and beyond that to think, ask questions and seek authentic answers.”

- Resource Links, 02/12

“Avaluable photo journal that is especially successful at showing how people in a country carry on living in the midst of a war-torn land.” 

- CM Reviews, 10/11

“The photos tell a story all on their own, but the added narrative draws readers in and gives them a front-row seat.”

- School Library Journal, 12/11

“His photographs and accompanying text—the sensitive, bemused, horrified, awed and compassionate account of his encounters—offers readers a personal view that demonstrates what most impressed Gerszak: the clear will of the people to survive.”

- The Star, 11/20/11

“An artistic coup . . . both riveting and informative.”

- US Review of Books, 05/12

“Tells a compelling story that is personal and heartfelt.”

- Sal's Fiction Addiction, 12/09/11

“Gerszak’s frank and descriptive observations effectively convey the ugliness, monotony and tragedy of war.”

- Kirkus Reviews, 10/11